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April 16, 2008 at 12:34 am

I’ve been printing a lot in the last couple of days. Most of what I was doing was of this nature:

Yes, this Black Cat job is over, despite the hassle that inevitably comes along with trying to print tiny, tiny little details at perfect resolution. I rushed it across town on my bike to Jim, he chopped the edges off the cards on his huge chopping machine (to make the blade come down you have to push two buttons at once, one with each hand, to make sure that you don’t chop a part of yourself off), then rushed it across town again to make it to the shipping company by 7pm. Done and done.

Can you see how tiny those tiny letters are? Smaller than a 16th of an inch. Yes, get out your rulers and look to see how small that is. It’s tiny! Such a thing should not rightfully be printable by screenprinting. Yet it happened, it’s done. Yikes.

(Note: I did not design the above material, it was designed by this fancy, fancy wedding-invitation designer. Their website is impressive, though the opening page is kind of disconcerting. The strange thing I constantly find myself remembering, while in the middle of printing these somewhat excruciatingly detailed and definitely high-luxury “unnecessary” objects, is that, despite whatever one might say about the convention of marriage and the ‘wedding industry’ in general — a wedding invitation is one of the few pieces of art or design that will actually have meaning for many people: personal, intimate, significant meaning. So — not completely unnecessary. . .)

[my printing studio. tool shelves and drawers near left. new printing table in the center, with Scøtt’s rolly cart in front to hold paper. right: homemade drying rack (the shelves pull out, it’s sweet), with light table on top (covered by black cloth & plywood). back: pile of junk. this is all in the former kitchen of an attic apartment: note corner of kitchen sink/counter at left]

So my friday-saturday-and-monday of printing a bunch of high-precision, long-hours print runs left me with some longstanding questions newly affirmed in my mind.

1) I need to not lock my knees when pulling a print. I kind of realized I was doing this, but now that I have finally built myself a new printing table (above) that is a) not wobbly and b) four inches higher than the old one (more-or-less the right height!), it has become imperative. In the middle of the first print run of the weekend (which was also the first on the new table) I tried to sit down to take a break, and yelled because I had totally strained my knees from not bending them forward with every pull… The rest of the weekend became a practice session for careful attention to non-locked-knees standing and print-pulling. A no-brainer — but it’s hard to change long-held physical habits…

2) I need to wear a respirator while printing. This should also be a no-brainer, I guess, but it took me a while. I’ve been noticing a weird itch in the back of my throat whenever I printed for a while now, and after I realized that I wasn’t just “starting to feel a sore throat coming on”, had begun to harbor (somewhat reluctantly) the idea that there was probably a connection.

The labels on the Speedball inks I use say they are non-toxic, so I had always thought that I must be wrong. However, yesterday, as I finished a five-hour, non-stop print run (pulling somewhere around 500 prints in that time!), my throat really hurt, and my lips felt tingly (and yes, I had the windows open, and no, I’m not licking the squeegee, or anything like that). Today, the croaky throat was still there, and by the afternoon, the tingly numbness in my lips had spread to the lower right side of my chin & face. BAD. ! ! ! So I looked up the MSDS.

It affirms the product’s supposed non-toxicity, and says this:

no respiratory protections required

but it also says this:

hazardous components: VOC (.71-1.66 lbs per gallon)

1 pound per gallon is about an eighth of a gallon, which seems to me to be quite a lot. I guess I am just the one-out-of-however-many people that has a bad reaction to it. My housemate B has an extra respirator that I can use, and he already has the Organics cartridges (in his puppetmaking, he uses a lot of terrible spray glue to stick terrible foam together — which is obviously toxic, in contrast to this stuff I have been using for years…).

So I will start using it tomorrow and see how it goes. I’m kind of hoping the weird numbness goes away first . . . It’s a depressing reminder of just how long it’s been since I’ve been to the dentist.

[. . . I set up the next print run tonight, so I can print tomorrow, since I still want to have the windows open, and tonight it’s too cold for that . . . ]

intermediate kitchen…

April 12, 2008 at 1:07 am

The Forbes St. kitchen is not finished, but of course it is constantly in use, every day. For example: Nick and Max working together on house dinner.

The food was as good as it looks. (note the spice rack in the background — more or less finished!)

Max talks about plans for a folding desk in his room. (Laptop = recipe source)

secret door projects does NOT recommend: hanging cliplights from the kitchen ceiling, plugged in to extension cords (which are precariously stretched out along the ceiling, above the ceiling fan), that are plugged in turn into a surge protector that is loosely attached to the wall, by the switch of which you can turn the hanging lights on and off. Such a solution must only be implemented on a temporary or “mock-up” basis, and as we know, building codes disallow the use of extension cords in any situation.

HOWEVER such cliplights do give really nice direct illumination to work by, and make said kitchen really warm and cozy, as seen in these somewhat fuzzy pictures — and when we will get around to actually re-doing the lighting in here is anybody’s guess.

new pinboard

April 9, 2008 at 5:04 am

A trip with Scøtt in the van to a creepily perfect still-almost-brand-new shopping plaza in Smithfield RI, a visit to the giant chain home improvement store, twenty-three dollars spent, some cutting with the knife, and a little time with the white paint =

new homasote boards for pinning stuff up on!

I have been making notes on small cards and laying them out to think about how things are related. This probably traces back somehow to witnessing some of my friend James McShane‘s comic-making practice, in which he works on narrative sequences the same way, as a deck of card/pages that can be ordered & re-ordered.

Laid out on my desk, whatever arrangement the cards are in is bound to get destroyed in less than a day (since I’m also using the computer, reading & taking notes on books, trying to do my taxes, organizing stuff I pull out of my backpack when I come home, etc, all on the same desk). The pinboard solves that problem. Also it lets me look at many things at once, keep many ideas up in front of my eyes, and thus in front of my ever-distractable mind.

Having more pinboards also makes my room into even more of an art-making nest. It’s pretty tiny (about 8 feet by 10 feet), with flatfile storage, bed, clothes, giant 4 foot by 4 foot drawing desk, many shelves, cat litterbox, etc. fitted in on multiple levels. The pin-up boards definitely are kind of tipping the scales towards “work” and away from “other life”. wait, is there such a thing as “other life”?

More cards, with images instead of text, are probably going to be in evidence soon. There’s a drawing of them already, but I need to be able to move them around & rearrange. The second print looks like it’s going to be some kind of catalog or chart of various different ways doors, walls, corridors, windows, stairs etc. can create different degrees of privacy between personal spaces and shared spaces. At least that will be one of the things that is happening in it… My tenuous prediction/hope is that it will be some kind of cross between the rigor of an Edward Tufte diagram, and the nonsense-within-order of a Bernard Tschumi drawing for the Parc De La Villette in Paris. Plus some perspective drawings. In awesome colors. WHO KNOWS.

This stuff happened about a week ago, it just takes me a while to record things and write about them. The non-internet comes first.


  • The Social Psychology of Privacy, a 1968 essay by Barry Schwartz, which was a standout in Robert Gutman’s 1972 anthology People and Buildings, dealing with the implications of sociology on architecture. In general, pretty interesting and relevant, even in its datedness.
  • Architecture and the Burdens of Linearity, by Catherine Ingraham, 1998.
  • A Hut of One’s Own: Life Outside the Circle of Architecture, by Ann Cline, also 1998.

The late-90s critical theory and the late-60s sociology provide a really good counterpoint to each other. Like Fanta and cheap red wine. I mean it!

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