Peter J. Blackburn on why you should not use old materials.
Three days ago I was reminded again of how we as alternative printers are so dependent, so utterly and pathetically dependent upon the reliability of our working materials. The minute we turn our backs, the moment we let our guard down, we find to our horror that we’ve spent a fortune on a shipment of materials which for some unknown, pain-in-the-neck reason just do not measure up to our requirements. Oh sure, we’ve grown accustomed to art papers changing with the wind. The Lana, the BFK, the Arches of yesterday are not the same today. And I lay 6-2 odds they won’t be tomorrow. Pigments, too, are not immune from the endless reformulations which ultimately waste our precious time as we recalibrate our workflow to accommodate those updates.
Now, even cottage cheese—yes, cottage cheese changes! Oh, what a hair-ripping hassle. The quality in the brand of cottage cheese which I have depended upon for years to create my casein mixture for dichromate printing is now kaput, finis, histoire. Once I opened the plastic seal on that little round container to reveal a pasty white mush rather than the usual curd and whey, I knew trouble lay ahead. Much trouble.
One stained print after another resulted from that wretched batch of mystery goop. Some of the stain was palatable, the rest was simply nauseating. So now I’m back to printing with gum until I find a suitable cottage cheese replacement. It’s comforting to have gum as a backup. But, I love casein, too! Needless to say it is with an anxious heart that I begin to search for that classic cottage cheese of yesteryear—classic cheese to nicely complement my select papers and vintage pigments. If you see any lying around, give me a shout. It seems we all know the drill.