Sunday, October 31, 2010

Silkwood Reenactment

An artist's life is never dull...

I was working on my kitchen table this afternoon preparing wood panels for a mixed media typography project. I had already constructed the panels (with mitre cuts even) in the sculpture lab and was now using spackle to fill in the nail holes and irregularities. I had purchased a new filler at the hardware store--latex wood filler--and was applying it the same way I always do: with my fingers. I let it dry for the requisite two hours and then started sanding. The process seemed to be kicking up an unusual amount of dust so I thought I should get the mask I had used for mixing encaustic pigment.

I don't usually read directions unless I need to, but thought this occasion had just escalated to "situation" status and called for a quick review of the label. This is where the Silkwood reenactment began...

The label said don't touch the product with your skin, don't breath in the dust, work in a well-ventilated area--you get the picture. "This product is known to contain chemicals recognized by the state of California as causing cancer." I could hear the warning sirens sound as I opened all the windows, vaccuumed all the debris, wiped down the counters, gathered up the drop cloth and dish towels, stripped down, threw everything in the washing machine, and took a shower...

I take responsibility for my own inadequacies, but I think the hardware store had a secondary responsibility to recognize me as an extremely unsophisticated user. (When I asked the clerk for help and he proceeded through a series of questions about what I was looking for, my answers should have been a BIG clue: What have you used before? I don't know, something in a plastic tub.) I am now having a brownie and hoping that this particular warning label was the result of some poor lab rat being subjected to the stuff 30 times a day for a year until he valiantly died...

2 comments:

  1. As someone who has been doing home improvement since High School, unless it's wheat paste, check the ingredients. Of course, you now know that. But I even check things I have used for years because formulas always change.
    Trust, but verify.

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