Wednesday, April 17, 2013

SEA CHANGE: Printing the Xeric, Day 8

"It's never the press."

So, basically, "it's you." Pretty darn true. And even when it is only mostly true - a rare exception - that's not so bad. That failure I can handle. I'm a little bit closer to separating my feelings of self-worth sunk into running Maisie from the snowballing, fuck-all chaos of screwing up a print run. Not all the way there, but much closer.

Tuesday I attempted to print and ran into the same problem I had last week. I had not solved it. The problem with believing in luck and fate and emotions and the stars is they are as nebulous as they are capricious (and how actual they are is also debatable, but...). I thought my luck had turned about face. Thought whatever cosmic scales had weighed my pain and effort and seen fit to balance them in my favor. I'd answered Maisie's vicious one-two with my own scrappy can-do-ness. I felt better, re-energized, renewed. Until I ran it, got the ink/fountain going, make-ready sheets doing fine, switched to the good, expensive stock and all of the sudden ran into the exact same problem.

To say I crumpled beneath self-doubt would be generous - that implies I had a backbone for more than a few seconds. No. I was flattened by it like Wiley E. Coyote under a goddamn anvil within the span of  minutes of problems reappearing. I screamed, per usual, and found myself crying in defeat as I pulled rollers back out only half an hour into starting. Winter was back, and it was never leaving. Failure was the fluffy, inextricable lei around my neck and Maisie had more fucking flowers where that came from.

I called Sally in heaving tears and left a message I was at the end of my rope - and emotionally and mentally I was (The floor of that crisis of faith would later that day fall out beneath me again and I'd still manage my way up). God bless him, he passed the distress call onto pressman Clint, who proceeded to troubleshoot with me and eventually texted me off that ledge of just calling it a fuck-all-quit.

Point being, with coaching and another press-doctor garage-call and new supplies, I think I have it. Running back at normal, managable, and the regular amount of difficulty. I'll take it.

And the second point being as soon as I saw the logical, mechanical reasons I was running into problems - a dozen or so small factors that start small and snowball and just turn into pure, baffling pain - and a way to go at them, to adjust, fix, and eliminate them until the smallest amount of variables remained, the haze was gone. Some mushy, ill-defined cloud of worry that I'd ascribed to the bad alignment of stars or luck or fate, immediately gone from sight. I know it's not her out to get me. Maisie is metal; she doesn't care. She can't care in the least. Explains why she was so silent through my screaming, "I need you to do this! Why do you hate me?" Or, in a real pity-party moment, "Peaked at 23! I can't have peaked at 23!"

It wasn't me; it wasn't divine punishment, or some shit like that. It was me, ignoring or simply missing the signs of problems, all of which were not living, planning devils but just a rubber blanket too old to run, a crank turned too far, an un-level surface. And I can really handle that. An issue of un-level paper versus the universe deeming me too worthless or too vain to deserve success? Earthly mistakes versus an invisible hand of misfortune? Come on. Easy choice.

Got more light installed. Two space heaters at the ready. Bought and put in a new rubber blanket. Greased/WD'd a bunch of parts. Went looking for a replacement part for the feed table; got a few pieces of plywood to make-do. Adjusted my vacuum on the suckers a little. Nearly got my goddamn finger in that gear again, but I was paying attention.

I feel good. Afraid, of course, but a hell of a lot more ready this time.

Maisie looking, as Floss would say, "Famous."

The cylinder without the rubber blanket. Not so famous-looking.

The inky-blue part is the rubber blanket. Comes out, is pretty thin, one-sided rubber coating. The two sets of bars are what clamp around it to attach to the cylinder, and a crap ton of little rusty screws.

When I brought the old blanket into the printing supply place in Bloomington, I said, "Yeah, this one's a little past her prime," and Larry laughed, "A lot more than a little."

Flipside of the new blanket.

A slightly different rubber blanket. But a "workhorse" one, for a little workhorse press.

It took all the strength in my little hands with all the leverage I could muster to put that damn thing back in, but it's back in. And that is really blue. Like Duluth Pack blue. Like TARDIS blue.

As a roomful of old pressmen and still none of them know what the hell those feed table "thingy-ma-jigs" are called, of which I currently only have one. Replaced it with some plywood and it acts more stable now.

Picked some of this mess of a studio up / put the thus printed pages not on top of each other in plastic tubs. Less than halfway done.

Holes punched out of poly-plates. Reminds me of tears. Maybe not surprisingly... but that's definitely not even close to how many I've paid to this project.


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