Communion Of Dreams

December 27, 2010, 6:28 pm
Filed under: Book Conservation, General Musings, Society, tech

“Heh. Well, I suppose that’s one way to do it.”

I smiled at my wife, dipped an index finger carefully to just barely make contact with the surface of the paint. It was cool, thick and creamy. “Well, you know.”

She laughed, left me to my work and went back to hers.

I smeared the paint on the small patch that needed repairing – just behind the silver handle on one of the cabinets in the bathroom. It took two more dips to get sufficient paint applied.

Why do this? Why not just get a small brush and do the minor touch up that needed doing? We’re supposed to be tool-using monkeys, right?

Partly, it’s laziness. This way I didn’t have to clean a paint brush. But more, it’s just for the tactile joy – being able to feel that wonderful slick quality of paint against the wood. I think in many ways we are too divorced from our world – distanced by a computer screen, a barrier of our own making, living inside a post-modern bubble, safe in our ironic detachment. Wii games allow us to ski without getting cold or wet. It’s safer, but somehow less . . . real.

And this is what I do. Dip a finger in pigment or adhesive, work it into the damaged cover of a book. That way I can feel the texture of the leather or cloth, work the material to match in terms of color or surface. Tapping the wet paint creates a stippling pattern that’s a perfect match to the effect of a paint roller. Try doing that with a small brush.

I finished in the bathroom, closed up the gallon of paint. A bit of solvent and a paper towel cleaned the residual off of my fingers.

When it dries, the minor repairs will be almost invisible. But I’ll know they’re there. I have touched them.

And been touched by them.

Jim Downey

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