The Whetting Stone & SpotoneMonday, May 18, 2009
verb (whetted, whetting) 1 sharpen the blade of (a tool or weapon). 2 excite or stimulate (someone’s desire, interest, or appetite. Origin: Old English.
Compact Oxford English Dictionary
It has only recently that I finally caught on that one whetted one's appetite with that word that included an all-important h. I looked it up today. Coincidentally I was having problems cutting off my damaged rose leaves (the pesky winter moth) yesterday because my Swiss Felco secateurs were not sharp.
When Rosemary and I went to a nursery yesterday I decided I was no longer going to buy a brand new replacement blade for my rose cutters. I paid $22.00 (almost the price of a new blade) for a neat Felco whetting stone. And yes it has that h as it seems the verb has all to do with sharpening either taste or a blade.
Since we began to garden in our Athlone Street house in 1986 we have gone through countless garden tools, lawn sprinklers and a few secateurs. Sooner or later like in almost anything one does, one comes to the realization that the best is almost always the most lasting. Ever few weeks I cannot find my Felco. But I use Rosemary’s trick of remembering where I used it last and I always find. Unless I lose it the Felco secateurs and its whetting stone (made of aluminum oxide) will be the last I will ever buy. If Rosemary wants to she can bury me with them with my hat off to the Texan who was buried with his Cadillac.
When Lauren is excited about some event she always asks Rosemary, "How many sleeps?" Lauren's calendar is made up of days that are separated by her sleeps. In a similar way I ask myself, "Will this be my last Felco?" In a similar vein I have figured that had I not had a little accident a few years ago I would be a Two Spotone Bottle Man. What's that?
The three litle bottles here contain a liquid (Number 1 is a blue black, Number 2 is a sepia and Number 3 is a neutral black) that when applied with a fine brush (there are two here, very dark on the left side) will hide or eliminate the dust marks that appear as white dots on b+w prints, printed on an enlarger. When I was 20 I bought my first set of Spotone. Then about 15 years ago I spilt Number 3 (the most useful colour) and had to buy a bottle. I calculated that the spilt one was the second I had ever bought. A photographer's life span could thus be measured (without an accident) as a two-Number-3-Spotone-bottle life.
The little ceramic tray at the bottom is where I dilute the Spotone gradually by dunking my brush in water and dabbing the indentations. This gives me different degrees of black to a light gray. On the other side (the bottom) I mix my Number 3 in the same way for sepia prints.
For my negative and transparency scans and for the scanned artefacts you see here there is always dust that appears as white little dots on the scan. Spotone does not do the job. I rely on two Photoshop tools. One is called the clone stamp tool and the other the healing brush tool. As Photoshop is constantly being replaced by a new version (mine is plain Photoshop CS) it would seem that it would be next to impossible to be a 3 Spotone Bottle Man in the digital age. I can confidently assert that I will not buy one more bottle of the stuff.