On Sunday, Emily and I went back to an old abandoned hospital which we've visited previous times, but only found out on Saturday that one of the buildings used to be a screen print shop. Since I work in the screen printing business I was eager to find the workshop.
We wondered through some of the buildings looking for the equipment and in one we heard a cry from a small animal. Searching through the dim light we found a tiny kitten mewing but after further searching we were unable to find the mother or other kittens. Concerned that the mother could return, we left her where we found her deciding to check on her after our photographing.
We found the screen print shop and I was amazed at the amount of abandoned screens in the rooms. All had been either exposed or used for printing and there were none that had been cleaned and were ready to use again.
The manual press was covered in cobwebs and plaster dust with a couple of screens still in place. Since they had been positioned incorrectly, I knew the press had been staged for a photo, so I corrected their placement so our photos would look more authentic.
Ink had been left on many of the screens which had been used to print t-shirts for festivals, school sports teams, fire stations and local events.
The flash unit and gas dryer were still in place and old buckets on ink had been left on wooden shelves. I couldn't find any squeegees used for pushing the ink through the screens and wondered why they had been removed.
All the screens were wooden with mesh falling out some of the frames and acetate film had been trodden into the dusty floor.
We found one test pellon; these are square pieces of fabric used to test the print before the shirts are printed.
This old poster showed that proceeds went to RAP which is Regional Addiction Prevention, a nonprofit organization that offers residential substance abuse treatment. There was no date on the poster.
In the basement we found old hospital beds and the image above is the base of one of those beds.
We walked past a recreation area and headed back to the building where we'd left the kitten. We'd been gone over 3.5 hours and when we entered the building, the kitten was still where we'd left her. We decided to take her home and stopped on the way to buy KMR baby milk. Once home, I continued to feed and groom her. She was keen to take the milk but I noticed that even though plenty went in, nothing was coming out the other end, despite me gently stimulating her. By 9:30, I was concerned and looked online for a local 24 hour vet which was located in Manassas. I drove down there and approaching the area, I slowed down to look for the building. An oncoming car swerved across in front of me to take the turning to my right and we collided. Everybody was OK including the kitten, but my car was totalled. I was shaking and very upset that Colin the Cavalier had not survived. (The insurance company later confirmed the fault was the other driver's and not mine.) My friend Jim arrived to pick me up and took me straight to the vets where through sobs, I explained the kitten's predicament. The staff were fabulous and promised that they would look after her and not put her to sleep. She was only 3 weeks old.
I called the vets 3 days later and was told that the kitten was going home with her carer each night and doing well. That evening I raised a glass of red to a lost car that had saved 2 lives.
Another self portrait
2 weeks ago