Preparing the Ground

December 6th, 2010

An hour before I was due to go out to dinner last night, I decided to prepare a linoleum block for a relief print, and after I finished carving out the design I wanted , I decided it might be a good idea to get some actual instructions since I haven’t done this before. Like, don’t gouge  with a sharp instrument toward the veiny underside of your wrist. Like, put some newspaper down to catch the shavings. Like, do it on a table instead of the living room floor. I went on and watched some videos and realized I’d done it all wrong. Like, don’t gouge with a sharp tool toward the underside of your wrist. Like, find a stable table to work on instead of the living room floor. Like, do a drawing and transfer it to the block instead of drawing right on the block.  I imagine it will look like a beaver did my print once I’ve finished. Unfortunately that is my usual method for attempting anything — jump in, muddle around and then get directions after the fact. Because I hate, hate, hate the instructions part, the learning part, the step-by-step part. I have zero patience, which is why I have to call my daughters long distance to get them to troubleshoot my DVD player, TV, iPhone. It’s how I started a magazine ,and I’m sure I could have saved myself a lot of stress if I’d done a bit of research first. It’s also how I raised kids and I’m sure I could have saved them a lot of stress if I’d read a book or something. I always want the shortcut, the fast route, the finish line — not the long haul or the ground work.

7 Responses to “Preparing the Ground”

  1. m heart says:

    This is so me. I’ve carved quite a few lino blocks, but I’ve never read any instructions either. And I have the scars to prove it ; ) In fact I spent this whole past weekend struggling to build a new design website for myself using but refused to watch any of their helpful tutorials or read the how-to pages, insisting it would take too much time.

    With that said, I’ve had a very successful design career thanks to throwing myself into the fire and learning as I went along in the beginning. I think there’s a lot to be said for trial and error and learning from making mistakes. It leads to a kind of knowledge that can’t be acquired from doing everything according to the text books.

  2. Laurie says:

    Yes but–Nikki? If we prepped properly for such projects, would we ever start them? If you knew how difficult or fraught with terror that linoleum block could be, would you attempt the first cut? Would you bother fixing the table so it was sturdy, or finding the newspapers to collect the shavings? As much as I curse my own lack of prep, it does keep things…interesting. And for some perverse reason, I love making to do lists when they are “done” lists–after the fact. That way my day actually looks as it were planful.

  3. nikki says:

    So true! And I love the idea of Done lists.

  4. Jen R. says:

    Couldn’t agree more. My big one…hate cooking with recipes. Ugh… the list of ingredients and then mix the dry ones over here and the wet ones over there. I usually skim the recipe “to get an idea” and then I wing it…sometimes to disastrous results, sometimes inspiring culinary genuis.

  5. nikki says:

    I do that too! What is it with the instructions that we hate so much?

  6. ca says:

    Precious photo of little girl with BIG hoe. Your photo journalism is always spot on.

  7. nikki says:

    thank you, Katie!

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