It’s hard to think of a better weekend activity than taking a quick trip to San Francisco.
and whose back yard contains this.
And then we got to raise a fantastic ruckus and make guerrilla street art with a whole bunch of people looking on.
SFCB’s got this thing down to a science. Between the small army of volunteers who took care of the inking and registration (line-up),
and their probably-patented methods for keeping street schmutz off the prints, the results were impressive. In fact, this is my fourth steamroller print (and Jessica’s fifth), and I’ve never seen one turn out this well before.
Photos of us by Jesse Mullan
Besides, we really needed to keep our hands clean this time, because we upped our personal ante and just plunked ourselves down on the sidewalk for a bit of on-the-fly hand-coloring (though avoiding the very wet ink felt kind of like playing Twister).
That turned out to be the perfect tag-team job, actually. I do a lot of hand-coloring when I print, as you know, but never anything this big—
having two sets of hands to blend colors and two sets of eyes to look for missed spots was definitely the way to go.
So thar she blows. Let me introduce you to Eliza Thorrold, and our latest honorary Dead Feminist print, Even Keel. Eliza was the first licensed female tugboat master on San Francisco Bay. After Charles, her husband who piloted the Ethel & Marion before her, died an untimely death, she fought for and received her operator’s license to continue their tug business in his stead and provide for her family. Her quote says it all: “My circumstances compel me to become master of my own boat.” Hear, hear, Eliza.
After she left the high seas and entered retirement as a landlubber, she became master of her own taffy pull by opening a successful ice cream and candy shop with her son. Hence all that salt water taffy. And as if the nautical sweet-shop theme weren’t enough, we couldn’t resist throwing in all our favorite things about San Francisco. So go hunting around the image, and see what you turn up. Then, on your next trip to the City by the Bay, learn more about Eliza’s life (and those of other women mariners) at San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park.
So, yeah. It might not fit the traditional idea of a productive weekend, but it’ll do. We came away with new friends, blue fingertips and a whole lot of ideas to make our own humble little steamroller party better.
Many thanks to all the staff and volunteers of the San Francisco Center for the Book, who made the day a smashing success—
and to all the kindred spirits who lent a whole bunch of helping hands. Like the super-nice TSA employee who took such great care of our linoleum block and didn’t bat an eye that we had to bring something so huge and bizarre onto an airplane. Like Sarah, who manned our table; and Jesse, who shot most of the photos; and the huge, huggable posse of Jessica’s extended family, who helped schlep things and kept us company and bought us beignets. And especially Jessica’s ten-year-old niece, Luciana, who basically designed our table arrangement. ‘Ciani, you’re one awesome ragazza.
And of course, to Eliza—thanks for standing proud at the helm.