Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Comfortable, now in COLOR

Just as an update on Monday's bleakness, my dog's been diagnosed with heart problems of a kind not uncommon in larger breeds, but still shocking given her young age. She's on a load of medicines, and the advice from the vets have all boiled down to "just keep her comfortable and we'll see." This blog was never meant to be a forum for me to air my personal goings-on, and I don't want to turn it into a pity-me-and-my-poor-ailing-pet sort of thing. That doesn't make me very comfortable, honestly.

I hope you won't think me callous if I indulge in my typical retro-paper-photo-lust, then. Believe me, there's a large part of my mind and heart tied up with the big fuzzy lump asleep at my feet.


And now on to business, namely, fostering intra-typecaster jealousy. If you're anything like me, Strikethru's recent series on her Print Camp 2009 trip has you checking round-trip fares to Oregon. Egads, all this and Blue Moon too? When do we leave?

It was just this weekend that I pulled out some old, yellowed mimeographed worksheets from my elementary school days to show to my daughter. I swear I can remember seeing those hand-cranked machines in use at some point, but perhaps this is just a wishful, false memory. Of course, I have no need to make multiple copies of anything I've typed, or at least not to do it with ink and rollers and a pile of papers prone to jam. But you can't deny the elegance, and the purple ink... whew, nostalgia.

And so my mind wandered, as it is prone to do, back to the post about the Cuban author who wrote her novel by blind-typing, with carbon paper, and to discussion thread from the portable typewriters group from a writer wondering how to re-ink ribbons for use a manual machine after civilization's collapse. My suggestion at the time was "home-made carbon paper" and now with the experience of our novelist, this is a very likely prospect. So likely, in fact, that I thought I'd like to try it, though I don't know if I can easily find carbon paper, or want a whole pack of the messy stuff. I started thinking about carbon-less forms -- that might make interesing typecast paper -- and then like a bolt, it all came together.


These are two quickie samples from my home-made paper. Ingredients? A Rose Art "Violet" crayon, a piece of paper, a 3x5 card, and Gomez, my Olympia SM-3.

  1. Cover side of paper in crayon. Really lay it on thick.
  2. Place colored side of paper and blank paper together.
  3. Wind through typewriter such that you are typing on the back of the colored page.
  4. Type, perhaps using the underutilized "Stencil" setting (white dot on your ribbon color selector.)
I did this twice: once with a plain "raw" page, which is the top half of the typecast. The results were good, and very mimeo-ish, though the wax bits flaked off and stuck to the index card I used as a blank. You can see them above the first line, and the line of asterisks. Also, the closed letters tended to punch through all the way, filling in the loops on the "e" in a few words.

Being a neat freak, I then took the color sheet and baked it on a very low temperature in my toaster oven until the wax melted into the paper a bit, then typed the second half of the 'cast (from the asterisks down.) The type is darker, and cleaner, and the stray wax bits were bonded more to the page. Keeping in mind the low burning point of paraffin wax, I'd recommend this method if you DIY, but don't burn down your house, or blame me when you do. (Also, place the paper on tinfoil on a baking sheet of some kind, just in case.)

OK, crafty 'casters. Let's see what you can do with this. I fully expect to see bands of color, strips and swirls and such. And this needs a Clever Name. "Colorcasting" was the best I could do, but I'm sure one of you has a clever variant on "lost wax technique" or "Crayola paper" or the like.


Elizabeth H. said...

Oooh, I like it! We used to do something similar with crayons when I was little, and combining it with typewriters makes me smile.

I don't have a single crayon in the house at the moment. What is *wrong* with me??? I want to try doing a rainbow effect by using multiple colors across a page!

I imagine that in the post-apocalyptic world, this could also be done using the stub ends of dark-colored candles. Just to use every scrap of them.

Word verif: suglex. Interlocking sugar cubes.

Olivander said...

Oh, and Mike throws it down! Am I gonna have to bust out the Hectograph on you?

So the Crayon doesn't flake off on the underside of the platen? I'm tempted to try this, but am hesitant to leave colored residue that could transfer to the next sheet of paper.

Mike Speegle said...

Oh, the wife and I are so totally planning a trip to Oregon now. Maybe Strikethru should start a bus-tour or something for all of the retro-pilgrims.

Man, who hasn't considered the whole post-apocalyptic inking dilemma? I always imagined myself crouched in a field somewhere, rubbing blackberry juice into a dry ribbon. Am pretty excited about trying the crayon thing, though.

mpclemens said...

@Olivander: no, the color stays put. The flaking you see in the sample showed up after peeling apart the faux carbon-paper and the index card. Melting the crayon into the paper first should handle the flake problem, as well as using a sheet slightly smaller than your typing paper, to avoid crayon/platen contact. Like carbon paper, and unlike the Hectograph (cool!) this is a one-shot material.

For this try, I used a 3x5 card, with a maybe 2x4 rectangle of colored paper (small, so I could do it in the toaster oven.) I suspect even leaving a sheet out on a hot sunny day would suffice, given how many melted crayon stubs are lining the carpet of our family vehicle.

I think true carbon paper uses wax as the main dye binding agent anyhow. It's very possible that this "new" method is quite old.

Elizabeth H. said...

Did anyone else ever make "painted glass" by putting crayon shavings between two pieces of waxed paper and having a parent iron them at a low temperature?

I betcha an iron *could* work as a heating element for this purpose, too...though I'm trying to think how.

mpclemens said...

@LFP: Of course! But you have to put autumn leaves in there as well or it just Doesn't Count. That was the de facto elementary school craft project every September. Just don't forget to place those pages between tinfoil first, unless you want a waxy iron.

This would certainly work, putting shavings between two pieces of paper, and then that between foil. You might have a problem peeling the papers apart afterwards, though.

Even a hair dryer might be enough to get the wax to melt a bit and get into the paper fibers. And of course, this experiment needs to be done with different types of paper -- half cotton, all cotton, plain office white, etc..

Get cracking! :-)

Mike Speegle said...

The only heat+crayons project we ever did back in the day was the one where you draw VERY heavily with crayon on paper, and then iron it onto cotton. Then, sew on some backing and suff with some cotton, and BAM! You have a plush whatever (I always did dinosaurs).

Elizabeth H. said...

No heat or typewriter possibilities involved, but I'm also remembering how we used to cover a page with color, then cover over *that* with a black crayon, and then scratch out pictures in the black, revealing the colors underneath. If that makes sense.

I'm sitting here at work jonesin' like crazy for a box of Crayolas. *twitch*

mpclemens said...

We did those, too, Elizabeth, and Crayola has even capitalized on the idea. I was trying to remember how we did this back in school. Was it crayon-on-crayon, or were tempera paints involved somehow? I have a memory of either painting over the waxy sheet with black paint, or using a black crayon to color over the painted sheet.

There's bound to be a web site out there with all those school-and-summer-camp crafts, neatly itemized and described.

Mike Speegle said...

We just used crayon-on-crayon, as I recall.

Elizabeth H. said...

I think we did both ways--crayon over crayon, and crayon over something like water color.

I scoff at the new Crayola product. Kids these days have it way too easy. In my day....

mpclemens said...

I'd also like to point out that you are in no way limited to using dark colors to make an impression on light paper. Metallic or even neon crayons on dark paper would likely look stunning (coughs and points up to the site logo.)

I should also mention not using washable crayons, as they are formulated differently, and tend not to melt very well. You need the old-school, all-wax versions for this experiment.

Finally, if you have an old electric food warmer, you can place the paper directly on this and color onto it. The heat from the warmer will melt the wax, and makes the experience much like painting. (It will also melt the crayons like nobody's business.) See here if you don't know what I'm talking about. And an Oroborus moment: this artists uses them to soften up the materials for lino cuts, which Strikethru dabbled in.

Strikethru said...

Clickthing, it is my belief that this is the Best Post Ever. Your sample totally looks like a ditto. Colorcasting is a good name, IMHO.

Speegle, your wife maybe has a heat gun lying around somewhere, the paper crafting types use those with embossing powder on cards and stuff. I bet that would work in place of the toaster oven or iron. I have one from my erstwhile failed cardmaking days.

While we are indulging in layered crayon nostalgia, does anyone remember those toys that had a rainbow backboard and a vinyl covering over it full of this sort of black, possibly toxic goo? And you'd use a little t-shaped thing to scrape pictures into it?

Strikethru said...

I just found this vintage Sesame Street video on YouTube that shows how crayons are made. (Maybe the process has changed?) Interesting.

Mike Speegle said...

Strikethru: She doesn't have a heat gun. She has two.

I always loved that crayon-making segment as a kid. The most vivid memory I have of it is thinking how appetizingly like nacho cheese sauce the orange crayon mix looked.

mpclemens said...

Mmm... nacho crayons... [drools]

I'm sure that all the charming grandmotherly types have been long since replaced by cold, heartless machines. Ponder that while you color, kiddies!

Monda said...

Oh, yes. I have crayons, colored paper, and a whole weekend of nothing coming up. This is a done deal. Love it!

Duffy Moon said...

Haven't tried this yet. I know I could very easily have my Typecasting membership decoder ring confiscated for that, and I plan to rectify that shortly.

(word verif = "redli", which I'm sure has something to do with colorcasting. Won't know until I try it.)