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Thank God for Liz

December 19, 2015

I’m showing some of my HOLI photos at a little gallery downtown. I narrowed it down to about 35 images and I researched ways of presenting them. I really wanted to have free-standing block prints made. Stand alone’s, they call them. But they’re expensive. So, I was in a craft store when I saw these painting blocks. They were nice wood blocks with thin veneers of a gessoed surface. There were a variety of sizes and porportions. I decided to buy a bunch of them, get prints made, each one just a little bigger than the block and I would simply mount them to the block and trim the excess. Easy.

I ran the idea by Liz, the perfectionist designer. She thought it could be done.

I set up a date to do the work. I was smart enough to ask friends, especially Liz, who I knew had a high standard of excellence to help me out. I’m like my grandmother. Messy and weird. My craftsmanship leaves a lot to be desired and I have too much of  a”this is good enough” attitude. (The plethora of spelling and grammatical errors in these posts, evidence of this attitude.)

The craft day arrived and I set everything up and decided to try one out before Liz arrived. I’ll start with a little 5×5, I thought.

I sprayed the print with glue, laid it down, face down, placed the block on it, pressed down on it, turned it over for inspection and reached for a brand new xacto knife. I turned the print over, slid the knife along the edge on all four sides and turned over the block.

It looked like shit. There was a inconsistent white edge where the blade had tilted in a little. This wasn’t going to work. I wondered if I needed a knife with a larger blade. Maybe one that could be dragged along with more surface area.

Liz showed up. I showed her my handiwork. “Yeah, that’s not going to work,” she agreed.

“Ok, show me how you would do it,” I said. She took another block and print. She sprayed the print, carefully, one edge at a time, rolled it onto the block. Took a piece of paper and placed it on top and used a tool to put pressure on the print, one edge at a time. She turned it over and got a knife. “Is the blade fresh?” she asked. “I just used it once,” I said. “You might need a new blade,” she said. “Are you serious?” I asked. “Oh, yes,” she replied.

She took the blade and examined the block and the line she needed to cut like a pro golfer examining the grass before a put shot. She carefully placed the edge of the knife against the edge of the block, pushing it in place with her little finger. Using just the sharp tip of the blade, she carefully scored the print, stopping short at the corner. She repeated the motion several times, explaining what she was doing the whole time. I was watching her silently and laughing to myself. At myself really. And that’s why her house looks like it does and my apartment looks the way it does, I thought to myself. When she was finally finished all four sides, she scored and cut the corners with precision and held up the perfectly executed little block print. It was perfect.

I looked over at the rest of the blocks, leaning against the wall. There were at least 24 of them ranging in size from 5×5 and 8×8 to 16×20. How were we going to get this done? There’s no way I could do what she just did.

“Well, shit,” I said to her, “You can’t trim each of these yourself.”

“Well, you can start mounting and I’ll trim,” she responded.

“Ok,” I said, with both gratitude and fear. If I had been alone, trying to make that little craft project work, I would have ruined expensive prints and cried……a lot.

We started an assembly line and she got a little faster the more she worked on them. Another friend showed up and Liz gave her a trimming lesson. She was better at it than I was and before long we were making progress.

I was in charge of spraying and I was beginning to screw that up too. It was after noon and I had only had a light breakfast and way too much coffee. And I was nervous about it all working out. When I watched Liz trim that little 5×5 in 20 minutes, I had felt a little panicked. Liz told me to slow down and take a break.

A third friend showed up and helped with the mounting. Before I knew it, they were all done, with the exception of some miss-matched sizes that I messed up.

We had them all on display on a shelf. It was a nice collection.

I looked over at Liz and thought, Ok, I can never say anything negative about her ever again. She saved me. I don’t know how I would have managed without her there.

Now I just need to make sure she’s there when I install the show. That will present many opportunities for me to screw up and cry.

Thank God for Liz.



From → Rantings

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