Protective covering made from old rope yarns wound around parts of a ships rigging to prevent chafe.
I am about to stretch the above metaphor possibly beyond usefulness. But left to my own devices and looking for something diverting to occupy me during xmas I hit upon the idea of doing something more or less pointless, fairly domestic and utterly distracting. I know, the gangplank is still fucked but shhh, never mind that for a minute.
The deckhead in our wheelhouse cabin has been unfinished plywood for some years, and inspired by Mark’s escapades wallpapering his kitchen with OS maps, Becky and I thought we were going to paper our ceiling in maps or charts. Discussions ensued regarding where these maps should represent, you choose, no, go on, you choose...Oh, who wants a map of bloody Lowestoft on their ceiling anyway. So without an accord the whole thing was ignored for a long time, and then for good measure we ignored it for a fair bit longer.
Whilst having a fight with a bookshelf two weeks before christmas, I found a large manilla envelope containing old blueprint positives that I’ve had since I was twelve years old. I was a fucking weird kid. And I had a thing for boats even then, or at least the idea of them, and looking over the drawings again I found myself just as pleased by their aesthetic complexity as when I was younger. How I’ve managed to hold on to them for so long is just one of life’s little mysteries I suppose.
The only problem was that there were not enough drawings to cover all nine panels on the deckhead. As we shall see, this led to a project-saving decision, completely by accident. I took the drawings to a well known branch of copy shop, luckily the man operating the machinery was a super geek type of guy, so was pleased to engage in a task that was well outside his normal duties. After some farting around with printer settings and a bit of swearing at the giant scanner whilst cleaning it I left the shop with a full set of A1 reproductions, plus the necessary couple of spares.
Back at the boat I mused on the how to of gluing it all down. I tuned in to YouTube for advice. Several videos involving crafty ‘merican ‘moms’ doing crafty stuff with crafty glue later I had two conflicting strands of advice. Essentially these were as follows: 1) keep everything dry, or 2) keep everything wet. The paper will swell up if it gets wet, and it will want to cause wrinkles.
I tested various methods on scraps of plywood and discovered that spraymount seems like a good idea, until the solvent in spray varnish dissolves it all and the paper just peels off on its own. Spraymount also has an interesting effect on cats who decide to try walking across the workspace. Then I tried sealing the paper with spray varnish, before gluing it down with watered down PVA. Disaster, even with paper at A4 size it curls over itself and sets immediately to form a sort of glued together cone of uselessness, attempts at preventing the curling action lead to wallpapering your own hands, and ending up with a crumpled ball of uselessness. I never even got it near the scrap of plywood..
Coming to the conclusion that ‘merican moms are full of shit I decided the only way for it was to embrace a wet gluing process. Tested it, got wrinkles, tested it again, got smears on the ink as I tried brushing it out. Decided I had run out of stuff to test on so it was time to throw caution to the wind and just go for it. Well. The first two small panels went ok. and dried flat enough. So I sealed the results with acrylic varnish and, lulled into a false sense of security attacked the first two big panels. In the morning they were dry, and really fucking wrinkly.
I went back to the copy shop for replacement reproductions.
Home again, the only thing I could think of was pre wetting the paper to persuade it to get the whole ‘I’m gonna expand ‘cos I’m wet’ thing over with, and then glue it down carefully before it turned to mush. Obviously this wasn’t going to work with a large sheet of paper flapping about. But noticing that the wrinkles always ran one way I decided that if the paper was rolled up along that direction I could wet, stretch and unroll, wet, stretch and unroll. I used a plant mister for the wetting bit.
So, the results look a bit ‘boys own’, and betray the onset of the New Year, there are several small wrinkles in the resulting ceiling covering. But I’m surprised at how little it really matters, and I’ve still got the originals. So if the sight of these imperfections ever starts to really chafe, I can always have another go.
And here is a weird gem. One of the drawings shows examples of different types of the same vessel, and lists when and where they were built. Look at this. This one was built HERE. Wendy Ann 2 is moored at the old William Osborne's boatyard in Littlehampton. And I didn’t even notice until I was putting the finished panel up.
Here’s to a New Year folks, I wish you a year of getting somewhere whatever direction you point yourself in. Even if this life is far from perfect at the best of times, we can only do the best we can in the time we’ve got, and I guess everyone has to live with a few baggywrinkles here and there. Let’s do it.