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Mystique Series #9 : shipping day ...

Posted by Dave Bull at 7:37 AM, December 20, 2010 [Permalink]

I haven't been very good at keeping up with the updates on the Mystique progress ... too busy with the Gift Print season. But that finally seems to be slowing down now that we're past the post office mailing deadlines for Xmas.

Work on this one has been continuing all the way along though, and here's the result of two separate 'batches' of printing - a stack of 200+ copies of #9, a design by Yoshitoshi:

This month my 'helper lady' Ichikawa-san is tied up with family business, so I'll be doing the packing and shipping myself. Let's see if I remember how ...

The first few steps I do myself every month anyway. The process starts with putting my 'studio embossment' on each print. I use this little 'machine' to do that job:

The part that makes the embossment is a slug of copper, engraved with my baren mark. Not visible in the photo is the 'male' counterpart that is pressed down from above:

And this is what results:

Once they are all stamped, they get trimmed to size:

That's where I usually hand off to Ichikawa-san, giving her the pile of (signed) prints, along with the mounting boards, story sheets, invoices, mailing cartons, postage stamps, and master list of 'who gets what'. But it's my job this month, so I settled into my hori-gotatsu (the sunken heated table in my living room) and got busy.

Each print gets checked for defects, signed, then mounted on the board. (I printed those the day before, spending hours running them through an ink-jet printer one-by-one by hand, as we saw in this image from a few months ago.

The story sheets are run off on my laser printer, and I still can't quite believe just how easy it is these days to 'publish' things right in your own living room. Although because my laser printer doesn't 'like' doing two-sided work, these too have to be fed one by one ...

Anyway, after all that preparation, here's the setup for the job of putting it all together - everything within reach from where I will sit on my cushion.

It starts with a story sheet coming off the pile at the upper right, onto the 'grooving board' on the desk. (We saw how that works in the photos on this page). The print on its backboard then goes into place, the story is folded in three, and the unit slipped into a glassine envelope. This goes into one of the cardboard packages along with an invoice, and the package is then taped up, and gets its address label and colourful commemorative stamps.

And about six hours later, those stacks of 'parts' have been transformed into ... a mountain of packages ...

Current count on the Mystique series is 137 prints going out every month (20 of those are people catching up with 'back numbers'; the rest are on the newest print) ... Tomorrow morning, I'll have to figure out how to get these down to the post office on my bike!


Following comment posted by: Dave on December 20, 2010 9:58 PM

As for getting to the post office ... no problem! My trusty old 'steed' came through again!

Following comment posted by: Lana on December 21, 2010 1:33 AM

That's awesome you can bike to the post office!

Following comment posted by: Mark Vosmeier on December 21, 2010 5:17 AM

Considering your precious cargo, at first glance those bungee cords gave me some concern; but then I thought, "Dave knows what he's doing!"
Thanks for the story.

Following comment posted by: Dave on December 21, 2010 6:25 PM

Well, it's all pretty light stuff. At 145 grams each, the whole pile weighs just about 20 kilos. The post office is a couple of kilometres away (downhill), so there's no danger really.

Reminds me of when I used to carry my daughter Himi-chan to the daycare center in a carrier on the back of this same bike. That was up a very long hill, too! As she is now 27, that means that I must have been using this bike for (more than) twenty-three years ...

Do I get a 'Gold Star' for my 're-cycling' efforts?

Following comment posted by: Margaret on December 23, 2010 2:51 AM

Yup! ★

(Just imagine it's gold.)

Following comment posted by: Dave on December 23, 2010 8:46 AM

Coincidentally enough, the question of 'What to do with this bike?' came to a head just this week. The front tire bald, the brake cables rusty, the brake pads worn down, and one of the shift levers refusing to work properly ... I had been putting it off just too long.

I've of course been in that situation many times over the years. I guess about once every two years or so I have taken it down to a local bike shop run by this young kid, and he has put it 'back together' for me each time.

This time around though, I have been looking at it and starting to think that perhaps it might be time to 'put it to bed' and get a new one. 20+ years is a pretty good run for a bike, after all. But when I browsed around in the bike section of a nearby major home center I just couldn't gather up any enthusiasm for a new one. They were cheap, that's for sure, but looking closely at the parts and construction, you could see that no way would any of these last more than a few years.

Combine this uncertainty about a new one with my nostalgic 'friendship' towards this old one, and the answer to the question was obvious - best to head back to the 'young guy' for another round. When I got to his shop a couple of days ago, I didn't recognize him at first ... was that perhaps his father? But no, he has of course simply been keeping pace with me, and was - as you may guess - very happy to see me again. And I am pleased to report that he made no attempt at all to sell me a new machine, but simply started his inspection of the work that needed doing on this one.

I picked it up yesterday afternoon, and grinned all the way home, gliding along on my new-cabled, well-greased, new-braked, new-tired, 'new' bicycle.

And this leaves me curious as to how old this bike actually is. When I get a minute free from my work carving the New Year print this week, I'll dig back into the old photo boxes, to see if I can find the snapshot I took of it on the first day it arrived - a story in itself, for sure!

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