Students have heard me utter those words many times while teaching alternative processes. With so many variables to control with gum printing, it makes consistency hard to come by at times.
It’s been a few months since I’ve printed but I left feeling confident. Having this week off, I decided to go back into the darkroom to print some old images. I spent the weekend making negatives and mixed up new chemicals—I was ready. However, I went to turn on my exposure unit only to discover that the fluorescent black light bulbs would not come on. After spending half the day fussing with it, I went to Lowes to buy four new light fixtures to replace the old ones I had (which were probably about 10 years old). I installed the new fixtures and now the lights work fine. Problem solved—not quite.
After developing the first layer, I realized my exposure times were off (due to the new fixtures no doubt—since it was the only variable that had changes since my last printing session). Gum always finds a way to keep me humble and otherwise frustrated.