I hate packaging tape

Monday March 14, 2005

Oh, goodness but I’m fed up with trying to make serviceable postal boxes out of old cardboard. I found that I didn’t have anything really suitable for the current batch of goodies so I took the one packet I had down to Boston, and posted it. The packaging I’d worked up weighed much more than I’d estimated, so I was 35p down on the gross shipping cost I’d charged and that’s making no allowance for time, energy and the cost of the trip to the Post Office. It doesn’t always work out like that but I was not overly pleased as I wandered away from the counter.

Before leaving, I turned into the shop area to have a look at the packing materials they have for sale, and was much taken with the flat-pack Royal Mail boxes, in all sizes, and at quite reasonable prices, too. I’m thinking I should change my approach to this problem in future, telling potential customers that I use all new, quality packing material, and write the cost into the shipping charges.

This current batch is on the old scheme, however, so I continued on to Tesco’s for my provisioning, and had a rummage in their stack of collapsed boxes. Nothing very inspiring, but I managed to pick out a Bell’s Whisky carton that, with a bit of work, I reckoned I could transform into a safe pack to see the blue-and-white teapot off to Houston.

Well, that was the plan.

I wrestled with that darned carton for nearly an hour, and succeeded, but this really will not do. I’ll finish the job tomorrow, along with the clock and the lamp, because I must. But in future I’m going to use proper postal cartons. I’m simply not a handy craftsperson. Graham can take a craft knife and a piece of once-used cardboard and produce a lovely neat box in no time. I’m just not like that, and I’m fed up with trying.

It’s much the same problem that has stopped my artstore project in its tracks. I’ve tried and tried and I simply cannot master the skills needed to mount pictures ready for sale. Again, Graham can, and will, when he has free time on his hands. It’s something he wants to do for his own landscape photography anyway. Me, though, I’m incapable of neat craft work.

There’s nothing for it. A happy life requires us to know ourselves, the things we can do and, perhaps even more important, those we can’t. I’m making myself miserable struggling with all this, wasting time I could be using to better purpose making pictures.

If you could see me now you’d find me tired, frustrated, peeling bits of failed packing tape from my fingers, and at that rebellious point where a sensible chap steps back from the problem, takes a deep breath, and decides that an all-new method is needed.

Ye gods and little fishes but I hate packaging tape…

On more pleasing matters, I’m finding the daily postcard painting to be a wonderful challenge. This is a surface that’s not designed for watercolour. It’s smooth, slightly glazed, and does nothing whatever to aid the passing brush. Washes don’t move, they just sit there, drying where they fall, and not drying too smoothly, either. There’s no texture to catch the dance of the brush as it works, leaving little sparkles of white to help convey the impression of water, or of a grainy sky. All I’ve managed to do is to use the small gestures of the brush and the fall of the washes to work with the uncooperative card as best I can. The results tend a little to the dull side for my taste but working this way is fun. And when I get my worktable back, finish the postcard project and can return to real, grown-up watercolour paper, it is likely to be a liberation, helping me to recapture the magic I first discovered when I brushed a coloured wash and found the combination of brush, wash and paper creating a dynamic that’s impossible to render in any other medium.


Stickford, Mar 14,'05
‘Postcards from my head’ No. 6
I must get back up to Scotland for a real painting trip



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