No, I haven’t snapped and joined a militia, nor have I taken up nighttime graffiti, and I’m not even planning to rob a liquor store. The mask was strictly for health purposes.
Yesterday, for the 2nd time in my screen printing education, I was mixing up emulsion for future use when coating screens. The emulsion that Mike uses (that’s Michael King, who is teaching me the ways of the PRINTER) comes in a gallon bucket with a packet of miso soup for flavoring, and at first it looks like a tub of blue glue.
You have to turn the lights down a bit when mixing because the stuff is light sensitive. Once the lights are dimmed, you add some water to the bucket and stir that up with a paint mixing stick, then you open the miso soup packet (actually, it’s REACTIVE AGENT, which is the stuff that makes the goo light sensitive), and slowly mix it into the goo. The reactive agent is a fine powder, and it tends to float around the room, often heading straight for your nose and mouth—hence the cool mask I was wearing. (It was actually a t-shirt wrapped around my face and tied in the back. It worked pretty well though…)
Once the water and reactive powder are thoroughly mixed into the goo, the stuff will change from the original brightish blue to a slightly disturbing shade of green. Then you put the lid back on the bucket and keep it in the darkroom, never to be opened in natural light again!
My favorite part of the whole thing is the warnings on the bucket: use gloves when mixing, wear protective clothing, if you get it in your eyes, rinse thoroughly and seek medical attention, if you accidentally ingest any, seek immediate medical attention—and right below that, in 16 point font, it says “NON TOXIC.” Hmmm…
Learing is fun!
—Richard F. Yates