Being a creature of habit, I always walk on the same side of the street, so on this, my last morning in NYC for a while, I crossed the road and got an altogether different view from the usual.
Actually, I went over to see what was going on beneath this, the National Debt sign. Since we started coming here to New York, we’ve seen those figures increase and this morning, following the events in government last evening, there was a bit of a hoohah going on there on the street.
I didn’t linger however, having important business to attend to further down 6th Avenue. I did stop to watch this chap in an elevated platform string a ?nylon cord across the street from one lamppost to another, though – the Extended Manhattan Eruv, I learned from the policeman standing on the same street corner, watching the goings on with the same curiosity as I.
My business was there in Toho Shoji though. Newly extended, I found what I was after and though I would have liked to have lingered, I still hadn’t eaten breakfast. I’d packed up as much as I could, put clothes for the flight in the top of my suitcase and checked out of the hotel, thinking that I’d get what I needed and eat in whatever time I had left.
When I arrived in class, all was quiet and cool. The perfect time for dealing with a tricky and, for me, challenging, overprint of the “Tolstoy’s Ceiling” image I’d done on the brown kraft paper a couple of days ago. I wasn’t happy with the indistinct image and so prepared another layer in black and white, which I hoped would bring out the architectural detail a little more. I measured carefully, I checked all the print settings and held my breath as I loaded the paper.
Not bad, eh? I don’t seem to have taken a photograph of the finished piece – it will have to come later and in the meantime, you’ll have to believe me that it looks a whole lot better than it did. It’s still not a spectacular piece, but it represents a shift-change in my ability to control the print outcome, so for me, it’s an important piece of work.
No time to bask in glory, however, because there’s more to do. I’d made a list of the remaining goals to be achieved and one of them was to print and apply the gel substrate we’d made. I felt that this, in particular, needed to be done in the presence of an expert! Though I’d planned to cover a cigar box (thank you, Jordi) having watched Mary demonstrate the steps required to achieve a good end result I decided on a smaller, flatter project and bought half a dozen round capiz shells in Toho this morning. I printed out the image I’ve called “Colombo Fields” – it’s a photoshopped image of Colombo harbour superimposed on another image of Castlegate Meadow in Gloucester, taken on my way to work one day.
Having sprayed it with a post-coat of Krylon to fox the image, it had to be carefully peeled off the kitchen cutting mat with the minimum of stretching. Thankfully, it came off relatively easily – hardly any need for holding breath at all!
I likened this to making a sheet of clingfilm and then putting it through the printer before peeling it off and applying it to…well, whatever we fancied. In my case, it was those six capiz shells and a couple of flat, plastic disks. Getting it straight with no crinkles wasn’t easy and like clingfilm, it really did want to stick to itself rather than behave and stick to the surface I wanted it to stick to.
By this time it was getting hot. The air conditioning in the part of the building we were using had broken and with all the machinery going full tilt, the temperatures had risen to sauna levels. The classrooms and print labs are at basement level and with no windows to open, we were getting very uncomfortable. Installations such as the one above began to appear and a bin full of iced water was brought for us. Time for lunch, perhaps?
We went out onto the "cool” street and spotted these chaps high above the street having a conversation, it appeared. What a strange experience it was after lunch, to go from the normally hot and steamy street into an even hotter and steamier building again! But portable air conditioners had been brought in and the temperatures were beginning to be under control again, thankfully.
This was important because Mary had some crucial information to share about the placement of substrates on carrier sheets, being particularly important to those of us who intended to print over the edge of the paper.
I wasn’t quite there yet, deciding to make my last print of the day on matte white Inkaid painted onto brown kraft paper. This wallpaper sample from the Andaz hotel room recently fitted the paper well and the effect of printing on that matte white surface was very satisfying indeed.
Did I say last print of the day? I lied! I spotted that one of the remaining goals for the day was direct printing onto the aluminium sheeting, which had to be prepared by thorough cleaning, rubbing with steel wool and then two coats of digital ground. Drying it swiftly became a great excuse for standing in the direct line of the fan!
Putting it through the printer on a carrier sheet, following Mary’s advice about printing over the edge of the metal, it was breath-holding time again. All was going well until…
I heard a “click” as the metal sprung back into shape after being released from the roller and the print head scraped the last quarter of the image. How very infuriating! This could have been remedied by using the straight feed of the printer, the one which ensures the media being fed through doesn’t have to flex at all; the one which steadfastly refused to accept any medium at all, today, however. So, lessons learned – and a great bit of printing nevertheless, because it can be cut down or even washed off and reprinted, should I choose.
Then, as if to prove that it was Friday afternoon, hot as hell down there and we were all tired, my decision to do a “quick and easy” transfer print using hand sanitiser gel into my notebook result in the mess above. Too much gel perhaps? Too little patience? Time to relax, to call it a day and to enjoy sharing what we’ve all achieved in these four, short days.
Believe me, there were some spectacular pieces! Jordi recreated her masterpiece completed on the first day but spoiled in the rain on the way home. The youngsters in the class had all worked their socks off, making the most remarkable images and really revealing their exciting artistic talents. The rest of us sat back and proved that once again, everyone else in the room creates more interesting and well-finished results than oneself – and that’s true for each of us. We packed our things up, said our goodbyes and thankyous and off we went.
For me, it was goodbye and see you soon to Jordi, a quick change of clothes in the hotel and a squeezing of artwork into my suitcase before jumping into a cab to JFK, where I sit now. My suitcase was labelled “heavy” when I checked in, which is hardly surprising, but I managed to secure a seat on an earlier flight.
It’s been a fantastic week, full of fun and activity. I suspect that I’ll have no difficulty sleeping on the way home!