Thursday, April 4, 2013

SEA CHANGE: Printing the Xeric, Day 3

(In which I think I'm pretty clever, and Maisie proves her right hook can knock that cleverness clean outta me)

Woke up tired, aching. Hands scuffed, black, knuckles chewed up by rivets and metal. My mistake of printing too few sheets the last two days weighed - and still weighs - heavy on me. Fucks up my schedule. Went into today with the plan of printing 6 plates (pages 15, 17, 19, 21, 23, 25) and at least making up for the fact I can't print Friday.

Shuffled early to Amaya and Ian's, down in Seward. Caffeinated, fed myself and the cats. Told one of them in passing as I went for the back door, "I'm going out into the wilderness, and I may not come back." He didn't care.

Again short of breath before I put the plate on and hit the switch to go, but the weight of the task before me shoved me hard over the edge. First plate always seems to take the longest to black up (generally the case; later plates come out consistently darker, when the rollers are saturated) but today took longer than the last. General theme of the day. First plate okay, middling-gray, but no great disaster. I spend less time these runs printing on copy paper, which is my cheap test paper. As soon as that print comes through on the copy, I switch as fast as possible. Second plate even better. Pretty darn good, actually. Switched to the third plate with relatively few issues and got some goddamn beautiful ink down and switched to the good paper.

I no more than thought to myself, "Hey, I'm pretty good at this-" and all hell broke loose on that press and didn't really stop for the next two hours. She'd been throwing sheets into the rollers and back out the feed side more than usual today, and, hearing my quiet thought of hubris, punished me for it. She threw a sheet up into the ink rollers, which is normally an instant KO. Paper pulp proliferates through the rollers, destroys all hope within three hot seconds. Leaves me sadder and more defeated than anything I think I've ever encountered.

Fought through that. Stopped the machine immediately and furiously cleaned that pulp off the rollers. Scrubbed and peeled off inked up paper off eight rollers for 10 full minutes. Got the thing rolling again and finished that plate. Good, but troublesome. Throwing sheets every other minute, it felt like. Got through plate three and four and five through all that trouble (even refilled anti-offset powder mid- run!) and nervously started six. Low on ink and scrap paper but wanted desperately to hit quota.

No more had gotten sixth plate running and good paper flying through when, my pride be damned, I thought to think to myself, "I got through so much today. I am pretty good at this-"

She threw a traffic jam of sheets up into herself, I missed one, and looked up one second later and the ink rollers were frothy white with paper pulp. Instant KO. Hung my head, told her she'd won, and quit for the day.

Not phenomenal but could have been worse. Still sore I was so bad at math, but happy I didn't shy from that mean, mean machine. Printed well over 4500 sheets altogether.

Anti-offset spray powder.

Actually just food-grade starch. Looked like the surface of the moon.

After printing.

After cleaning after printing.

I reset the counter sometime in the middle of the first or second plate, but that's still a lot.

And at the end of the night I couldn't fit all of the printed pages in the same container together. Weighed a goddamn ton to pick up by myself.

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