paper peeled

this is the last stage.  sort of.  i keep saying that.  because to me, it’s already finished.  here’s a secret.  with every project i do, around the middle of it, i start thinking about my next project.

but really, this is the last bit of unmarked dolphin.  everything else would pass if i didn’t do another thing to it.  but the base of the dolphin is painfully clear, like an empty canvas, like a blank screen.

over the past few days i’ve been printing out pages of old books, mostly on atlanta.  i found them by doing a search on the carnegie library in atlanta, mainly, and then going back on the timeline until i found something old.  of which there’s a lot.

there must have been 30 pages.  yesterday i spent all day putting coats of acrylic gel medium over the type.  three coats, drying clear between coats.  it’s been raining, and it’s damp, and gel medium doesn’t dry well, so i’ve done various things like putting them in the oven for hours, hitting them with the hair drier, and resting them outside on the steps while the sun was out.

once they were dry, i tried spritzing the back with water, and it worked fine, but was messy, and i sprayed water everywhere.  so i got out a plastic tub with a tiny bit of water in it, and stuck a page face down under the water.  after just a moment it was ready to start coming up, and it was fine to forget about it for 20 minutes before starting.  the paper started dissolving immediately, and the acrylic didn’t dissolve at all.  good points.

i did briefly wonder if adding either vinegar (acid) or soap (base) to the water would speed things up any, but it only took a couple few minutes to completely rub the paper free.

here’s the submersion stage, where it’s getting wet.

here’s where i’ve been rubbing at it for a few moments.  there seem to be two layers to the paper, and then a back-of-the-type layerette that’s pretty stuck to the acrylic.  i can feel it, but i can’t rub it off, and if i persist i start to stretch and tear the acrylicked type.

when the area of paper on top of the type is gone, there’s still the rest of the paper.  if i wanted to put the work into it, i could rub off the paper around the acrylic, which extends some way out from the type.  but i’m going to trim it all with scissors later, so i just slap it up on the fridge and let it dry for awhile.  i’m putting it acrylic side down on the fridge.  i think this may be important.

when it’s done drying, but not all the way please god, then i peel it off the fridge or the stove or the mirror and turn them over to let the acrylic side dry.

i let a couple of pages stick to the flat surface too long, and they dried down.  i had to peel up the edge and carefully pull it off.  it’s like removing any kind of tape, you have to pull it flat, against itself, at a 180 degree angle.

so they’re laying on the couch, and over the edge of the clawfoot tub in the bathroom, and tomorrow i’ll come down here, trim them, and then start placing them on the dolphin until i figure out how i’m going to do it.

when i had the pages in the water soaking, rubbing the paper off, i noticed that the brushstrokes that you can barely feel when it’s dry, swelled up and sort of blistered, so i was feeling long bumpy strings of white, which we’ll see if they go down as the acrylic dries back out.  i assume it’ll be drying out.  and that it’ll all be pleasingly flexible tomorrow.  i have some doubts.  one or two of the pages crumpled really bad, like the acrylic took on a different shape, melted like.

we’ll see tomorrow.

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