14 December 2009

Screenprinting, Bluefin Tuna, and Donuts

 Jan takes a pass with the squeegee.  Photo credits: moi

 I've been waiting for Jan to load up her high-res photos to her blog so I could share them with you here.  Last Wednesday was a blowout screenprinting bonanza that almost didn't happen and became this magical rolling sashimi eating screenprinting feast complete with donuts from the best mom & pop donut shop in the area.

 wearing a coat with a starbucks apron over it in the freezing  factory.  photo: Jan  

I arrived at the screenprinting factory at 4pm to find out that one of my frames looked like it had dissolved (too many passes with the screenprinting filler)  and wasn't worth inking up.  So I tried to clean it with three of Jan's father's most potent emulsion cleaners and I almost passed out from the fumes with absolutely little to no results.  Our inks and fillers were made by Speedball, not the ink this factory produces.  After about 40  minutes of trying to clean the frame without success in a freezing cold factory, I was ready to throw in the towel.  I googled how to clean frames and found that Greased Lightening is Speedball's recommended source other than their own overpriced option.

Jan and I drove to Lowe's and bought Greased Lightening for 3 bucks and came back to the factory only to find that Jan had locked us out.  She lived 15 minutes away and suggested driving over to her house to get spare keys and at that point, it was dark and windy and wet and I seriously wanted to go home.  But I decided to suck it up and said, ok, sure, let's go. 

We were rolling down the boulevard and Jan said, you know, I really think I should take you back.  I said, no no, let's just go. Soon after I resisted the urge to call it a night, the strange magical moving printing feast began.

On the way to Jan's house, I had this donut craving (everytime I drive to Jan's factory, I get donut cravings because her parents used to own a donut shop before entering the screenprinting business).  We passed a Yum Yum donuts and I said, hey let's stop but it wasn't good enough for Jan.  She looked at me and said, Hanna, I'm taking you to B&B Donuts--that's the best mom and pop donut place in the area.  As she always does when she's getting donuts, she called her parents and asked them if they wanted any (which they always do) and that's when I found out about the sashimi.

"Do you like sashimi?" Jan asked.
"Um yes!" I said.  
"Because my parents have tuna sashimi at home and they told us to come home and eat.  Their chemical salesmen/avid fishing hobbyist friend caught a 200 pound tuna off the shores of Mexico and brought it back yesterday."

Come again???

We arrived at Jan's house and by the time we reached the door with our bag of donuts, Jan's dad, Bob, had confronted us and asked us both if I ate sashimi.  No hi, hello, welcome.  Just straight up, "Do you eat sashimi?"  He was practically buzzing--his excitement at sharing his friend's tuna was palpable.  He pointed me towards a chair and and brought me this:

 (Actually, that's a half eaten plate--I was too busy eating at first to document the momentous occasion)

Before I could put it in my mouth he gave me a knowing look and said, "This is going to be the best sashimi you have ever had in your life."

And by god, he was right.  It was bluefin tuna (the very same bluefin tuna that is going extinct and written about extensively in every food magazine I know--namely that we are going to be the last generation to ever taste this fish which makes me feel kind of guilty but only a little) and it melted in my mouth like butter.  I had eaten an early dinner at 4pm that day but once I saw that tuna, I realized I'd better stop telling Bob and Jan's mom that I was full and just eat.  We ate and ate and ate and ate.  Jan's family likes to eat it with a mixture of soysauce and wasabi so potent that it is almost green.  Jan had a hard time breathing a couple of times from the wasabi flare up her nose.  There was a heaping bowl of kimchi and just pan-fried thai noodles.  Her parents were delightful, entertaining me with the latest about Tiger Woods from the Thai community perspective (he's half-Thai and from the area), and sending me home with a ziplock bag full of ice and a red tuna fillet for the lucky J. OH I was in heaven.

Jan looked for her keys and couldn't find them in her room.  And then she looked inside her bag and found that they had been there all along.

Jan and I drove back to the factory and by golly, Greased Lightening worked.  If it hadn't worked, we would probably have just called it quits on the whole thing.  We started printing and the printing was so much fun that we lost track of time and we became delirious with the fact that we were actually screenprinting and not cleaning and high off fumes and forgot that we were cold and so happy that we had donuts and blue fin tuna sashimi in our bellies until the phone rang and broke the happy humming workshop energy and that's when we found out that it was 10:15pm and Jan's mom was wondering what the heck was going on. The factory is in an industrial warehouse zone next to cargo tracks and really not the safest late at night with noone around and no street lights.  By the time we cleaned and rolled out, it was 11pm and we felt insanely happy and well, kind of insane with how addicting screenprinting is.  I was spooked after the phone call and screamed a little bit when the wind blew against the door.
So here it is, the glorious results of last week's workshop.  Our first screenprinted posters!  For more in depth instructions and tips on screenprinting, go to Jan's blog.  She has a great post with informative tidbits.  I also lifted a majority of my pics on this post from her blog taken with her drool-worthy Nikon (The next best thing to Screenprinting Wednesdays is playing with Jan's new camera and taking hundreds of pictures in a low-lit grungy factory kitchen and having them come out 100 times better than you would think they would turn out).  All photos below of me are taken by Jan. 

 I decided to do a pink single color print of my text-heavy design.

 Then we both noticed a cool marbling effect with the white and red and Jan had the brilliant idea of doing a design behind the pink instead of just random splotches.  I drew a heart.

Then I drew a white tooth in the middle because I mention dentist in the text.

I squeegeed it all around.

And then pulled with all my strength until I was red in the face

And when we lifted the frame, walah!

Jan's print.  It's pretty awesome.  I have a copy.

For a copy of one of my original prints, leave a comment and I will pick with a random number generator. 

Happy Holidays!

Update on poster winners--since I only have 2 comments, both of you get prints!  Each will be slightly different because they are hand-printed.  I'll get them both to you either by mail or in person.