|Darkroom sink in need of a wash|
If anyone out there still gives a toss, then you might not be surprised to learn that I'm no nearer getting my darkroom up and running - but it's not all my fault. In fact, I'm taking a step backwards to, hopefully, make a few giant leaps forwards. The last time I wrote about it, I'd fitted out the small room I'd created for a darkroom and just needed to find/build a sink and plumb it in to be operational.
Then there was a development. Our 18-year-old daughter, Freya, who occupies a bedroom that is about 25ftx12ft, got her first proper job at a bank and decided she wanted to move into her own flat. Freya and her two older brothers are very independent people and I knew there was little point in trying to talk her out of it despite my misgivings. In my opinion she's far too young. I suppose I'd naively thought she'd still be around to make me chicken soup when I was a gibbering, dribbling geriatric. It's not like it's too far off.
So I thought I'd make the best of it instead and divide her bedroom into two - one half would be a study and the other half a darkroom. No way was I going to leave a large room as a spare bedroom only inhabited once or twice a year. Then Freya exercised her prerogative and decided she would, after all, be staying.
However, she thought dividing the room up was a good idea even though it would mean her moving to a smaller bedroom. Her thinking was that I'd redecorate the spare room for her and she'd be able to furnish it as she fancied. I said to her, "So you only decided to remain at home because you would get a new bedroom?" She replied, "No, I'd miss the dogs as well." I now know my place. Freya has been safely decanted to the spare room upstairs (I wanted to send her to the dungeon but Cath said that was unduly cruel) although we've got so much going on in the house right now that she'll have to wait for redecoration.
When we moved into this house 18 months ago, it was in good decorative order but it was very dated. We've slowly been doing it up but the downstairs bathroom and a wee en-suite shower room off our bedroom are now in the firing line and we have a plumber coming soon to start on them. I've got the great job now of knocking all the tiles off the bathroom wall. It's been made easier since I stuck pictures of Nicola Sturgeon onto each tile. For some reason battering that face with a heavy chisel is no great problem for me.
So the bad news is that my darkroom is further away than ever but the good news is that it will also be bigger than ever - around 12ftx10ft. And, since the bedroom already had a vanity unit with a sink, plumbing in a sink will be straightforward. AND, I picked up a fibreglass sink that the local art college was throwing out so I'll not have to build one. That's it above. We've had an estimate from a joiner for building a partition wall and that should hopefully be going ahead in the next few weeks.
|The "wet side".|
|The "dry side".|
|Wet side with sink placed roughly in position.|
|A view of what will be the darkroom from the other half of the room that will|
eventually become a study. A partition wall will be built along the line marked
by the end of the wardrobe seen on the left.
The darkroom sink is a monster - 2.84m long and 60cm wide. I'll be able to sit three trays, a print washer and a drying rack in there with room to spare. It's on the deep side, though, so I might have to cut away the front a little to make it easier to get at the trays or use some duck boards to raise them up. To be honest, I'd have preferred something smaller - around 6 ft long would have been ideal. As it is, the sink will occupy almost an entire wall of the darkroom. I think there will be two feet to spare.
There will be plenty of room for enlargers, a print dryer, lightbox and all my camera gear. Things like spotting and mounting prints will be done in the study. It should be a great space that's big enough without being too big. I was toying with the idea of setting up a webcam so that people could see me working in the darkroom. Then I realised that would mean me having to be on my best behaviour at all times in case I was caught on camera singing salty sea shanties or making up obscene limericks. 'Twas on the good ship Venus, etc.
I can't actually believe how long it's been since I last printed. For some people it doesn't make much difference how long they've been away: it's like riding a bike to them. Not with me, though. My last consistent, regular printing sessions were about 12 years ago. That's when I'd disappear into the darkroom for five or six hours at a time. I've printed a bit since then but getting a feel for it will be like relearning the craft. It's probably true - it is for me anyway - that it takes people longer to learn things with each passing year.
Still, no matter. I'm really looking forward to trying to make something of the negatives I've been accumulating beyond just scanning them for the blog.
Now, where did I put those chicken soup recipes?