Chapter 5: Paint it Black!

It's been snowing up here, so my weekend plans (which were a photo-shoot and time spent cleaning up afterwards, and varnishing plates) got rearranged. With sudden spare time, I've been working on the darkroom.

Torquemada's Darkroom

The darkroom I'm building out is the former girls' bathroom of my schoolhouse. The boy's bathroom? What happened to that? Well, in 2007 I suddenly found myself single again, and spent most of that summer sitting on my porch drinking Jack Daniel's and listening to Johhny Cash with my dogs. Eventually I needed to pull myself out of the tailspin (because, frankly, tailspins are boring ) and redecorated the boy's bathroom as a project, to get my ass out of my rocking chair, and up and about. I used that as an opportunity to "come out" as a weirdo by decorating the boys' room as a medieval dungeon set. It's pretty over the top, with faux-finished walls, a huge bench that I made (can't use a table-saw when you're drunk!) theatrical lighting, bars on the windows, smoke machine, etc. So I've been using that as my darkroom for processing my wet plates, since wet plate work is mostly done in trays and all you need is darkness and a few gallons of water. "Darkness" is not quite true, either. Wet plates are sensitive to ultraviolet, so I use candles as safe-lights because they don't put out enough ultraviolet light to affect the plates, but I can easily see what I'm doing. Anyhow - that's all a bit of a digression - I'm a bit amused to see my nice dungeon bench all stained with silver nitrate and iron sulfate instead of whatever dungeon benches are supposed to be stained with. (That's a kerosene heater in the lower left of the frame)

The face of Jesus Appeared On My Panel!

Installing the panels at the front of the room was pretty straightforward. I ran the heater until it was good and warm, smeared glue on them, and tucked the bottoms into the j-channel then flipped them up into position.

J-Channel Saves The Day!

If I hadn't used the j-channel I'd have been in a world of hurt. The 4x8-foot panels don't weigh a lot but they're flexible and awkward and one side was covered with glue.

Corner Piece and Frame

Backed Into A Corner

The corners had me worried - I didn't want gaps, because that would completely demolish the "metal plate" effect, so I did a bit of experimenting. That's why I haven't posted any updates for a couple of days; experiments take time! Finally I hit upon cutting strips of oak, then gluing them at angles with urethane glue. That gave me enough framework to attach the wall-board into the angle piece, giving a good solid unit as well as the oak for backing to hold the wall-board to the wall. Making these was a pain in the neck! I had to make 4 - 2 innies, 1 outie, and a wall-end, and all told they took me about 5 hours of cutting, taping, drilling, sitting around and watching glue dry, dry-fitting, gluing, and duct-taping. I felt that if the corners ever started to fall apart they would really ruin the look of the room and be very difficult to fix.

East Wall

West Wall

Today was the day I went over and removed all the duct tape that was holding everything in place while the glue dried. In a couple of spots, I used studio light-stands with bamboo rods held on with woodworker's clamps, to apply a bit of extra pressure. After all the tape was off, I went around tugging and whacking on things with my fist and everything seems solid. Then I painted the ceiling black (No picture of that - it looks, um, blackish)

Tomorrow I am going to get it good and warm in there and open the grey paint for the walls and see how my rivet-head wall plates look with a bit of paint on them! If they don't look good, I'm kind of screwed since those wall plates are really on there!!

(Chapter 6)