July 27, 2010

Working Vacation: Pass The Strawberry Slushie

The joys of renovating!  We've been on summer vacation for over a week but so far there hasn't been much down time. Busy with our "big" living room renovation it wasn't until this Sunday that we took a break and lounged around in our sunlit garden, sipping strawberry slushies spiked with Vodka, reading, and contemplating how good life is. The pictures still had to be hung at this point but we decided enough was enough and took advantage of a rare quiet afternoon, when none of our neighbours were mowing lawns, or pressure washing, or weed eating, or using some other noise making contraption.

It's funny how house repairs go, isn't it?  Ever the optimist, though I know things generally take twice as long as you think they will, I somehow figured I was allowing for that and thought it was realistic to start on Saturday and expect to be done with everything by Thursday.  This, even though the carpet installer was only scheduled for Thursday.  And I was sure that even on days we'd be painting etc., we'd only have to work partial days with lots of free time to laugh and play, lounge around in our sunlit garden... 

Crazy?  It just didn't seem like the job was all that complicated really. I mean, how much is there to putting in new crown moldings, painting a ceiling and walls and three door frames and two doors, and putting in new carpeting?  Easy right?  Well... 
  • Saturday and Sunday: to purge five boxes full of books and other "treasures" we've been hanging onto for no real reason, pack up everything else in the room and distribute it, judiciously, throughout the rest of the house 
  • Monday (until 8 at night): deal with the crown molding and figure out how to make the tricky angle cuts and install it
  • Tuesday and Wednesday: mask, prime and paint the ceiling, walls, baseboards crown moldings, and doors
  • Thursday (until nearly midnight): get the carpet installed, touch up some minor dents made during the install, and buy and assemble a new wall unit
  • Friday: fill the new wall unit (artfully) with the books and stuff we decided to keep, during our pre-reno purge of same, and build a new CD cabinet that will match the wall unit and hold all of our CDs in one place
  • Saturday: make three separate trips to three separate stores to find the right stain for the CD cabinet and stain it to match the new wall unit
  • Sunday: install the CD cabinet, hook up the stereo and TV, and clean up the mess in the rest of the house
  • Monday (half a day): hang pictures
Plus, all the above activity was regularly interrupted by trips to General Paint: for primer (when the latex primer we had in the garage turned out be oil-based) and for more paint when one coat, even with primer underneath, didn't cover the paint we had on the walls before.  And I'm not even going to get into the issues we had with finding a stain for the CD cabinet that would match the new wall unit. 

But we got it all done at last and now something we've been talking about for a couple of years is done.  Almost.  R still needs to finish up the fireplace mantel but that won't happen for a couple of weeks.  Now, with what time there's left, we're vacationing.  Here's a couple of pictures: 

We've even made room for some of my work on the walls.  Before this, most of the wall space was taken up by my dad's work which is still there, but there's a bit less of it now. 

As I said, the fireplace is still raw.  It'll be trimmed in white with a dark mantle, to match the other dark pieces in the room.  But, despite an unfinished fireplace, we're thrilled with how everything turned out.  Even if it did  take a little longer than I thought it would, and even if I didn't really get any time to do anything with my prints other than hanging some on the walls.


July 11, 2010

It's Not a Disappointment; It's an Opportunity

I finished my Poppies print today and I'm not as happy with it as I could be.  

No, it's not entirely dreadful or anything, I like the design and the way the colours came together, but it's just not what I envisioned and that's always frustrating.  It's not a clean as I want and the edges, even though they're clean and sharp on the block, are ragged. I covered my ink issues etc. in last week's post so I'm not going to beat that drum again. I'll simply take it as an opportunity to figure out why things went a bit sideways with this print and work out a fix for next time.

I'll have a week or two of down time anyway; next weekend Saturday R and I are starting our much-discussed (and two years overdue) living room reno: new paint for the ceiling and walls, new crown molding, new carpet.  The weekend will go to packing up everything in the living room and stuffing it into the bedroom so I don't expect I'll have time to print.  That may just be a good thing.  But I will have lots of time to think about things like printing ink and paper etc.

July 04, 2010

The Down Side of Recycling

Though I didn't really think I'd be writing a follow-up to last week's post about good "old" stuff finding new life and purpose, my printing trials this week seem to call for a return to the same theme.  Because this week I learned a different lesson: not all the stuff we save to use at "some time in the future" should be saved.  

This last Thursday Canada celebrated it's birthday.  For most of us, that meant an extra day off.  For me, it was a day to stay up late the night before, sleep in till 8:30 (oh the decadence), take it easy, and, most importantly, print colour two of Poppies.  All was good but the last part: the printing.

My next colour was a red and it just happened I had a little tub of maroon ink saved from some other print I did in the past.  Ok, I'm not really sure when, specifically, but whatever.  Proud of myself for my thrift, I figured I'd make use of it now.  All I had to do was adjust the hue a bit, sprinkle in a few drops of my magic French linseed oil and I'd be good to go.  Really, what could be simpler?  Well...it turns out lots of things could be.

In sharp contrast to how my ink behaved last week, after I'd added the linseed oil, this time it just wasn't totally doing what it should be.  I don't know why.  It rolled out okay on my inking plate (and made the right kind of "smucking" sound), it looked good on the brayer, and it looked good on the block.  The only place it didn't look all that good was on the print. 

It just didn't go down as smoothly and evenly last week and my edges are not as "clean" as I want them.  Not in a huge "toss the whole thing away and start again" sort of way but enough to cause some angst. The only thing I can think it might have been is the ink? Was it too old?  It's possible right?  I should have tossed it right? I think I probably should have. 

Anyway, here's the print as it looked on Thursday:

OK, it looks pretty good and you're wondering what I'm going on about and maybe even thinking I'm one of those people who like to whine a lot.  But this is one of the better prints (my ego will not allow me to show one of the worst ones) and, even here, if you look at the border lines up top you'll see what I mean.  They're not as clean-looking as they were before I added in the red.  I'm hoping it'll fix itself as I move forward, even after colour three, added today.  

After today's printing, the red is still plaguing things somewhat.  One thing I've come to rely on is that any ink mixed with white will usually cover the colour underneath it.  Not so today, as per the red specks on the poppy heads.  It may not necessarily be a detriment, in fact it may even end up looking kind of cool, but it's not what was supposed to happen, damn it!  

And, once again, despite all my labours to prevent it, I had registration issues.  It's another mystery why because it just didn't look like the paper was slipping or anything and the block was in exactly the same place as last week.  So, I'm going to be positive and say the mis-registration adds a level on interest also, the same as the red speckles, but that doesn't eliminate the simple truth: it should NOT have happened.  I have to have better control of that kind of thing. That means I'll be re-evaluating my registration method for the next print.  For now, I find comfort in knowing that challenges and obstacles are always opportunities for growth if we can only learn to see them that way.