At a party recently, one of my guests remarked how amazing it was that the cats didn't get into my letterpress setup. Talk about foreshadowing! Monday night while I was printing, Jezebel jumped up onto the letterpress desk and started poking around. Of course, I shooed her away, but not before her tail and paw got a bunch of rubber-based ink on it. DISASTER! Printing was abandoned and chasing the cat down ensued.
My cleaning setup is as toxic-low as I can make it. I use canola oil to clean ink off of the press and equipment, and I follow up with just a bit of California Wash to take off the oil residue. Every now and then I use Putz Pomade to condition my rubber rollers and I always use the California Wash on the plates, but other than that, it's mostly just cooking oil. Honestly, I mostly use the California Wash on my hands to get off ink blotches that don't easily come off with soap or oil.
But how do you get rubber based ink off of a cat? That is NOT something that is generally covered by letterpress discussion lists, blogs, or in class, and I wasn't about to use California Wash or mineral spirits on the cat. Neither is "how to get rubber-based ink off our pet's fur" a general resource on any vet website. One option that I offered up immediately was to shave her, but that didn't sit well with my husband. So here's the what we did to clean off our poor cat:
At first, we thought the only part of dear Jezebel that got inked was her front paw, so we doused it with canola oil and rubbed it in good. Then we followed it up with some good old fashioned Dawn dishwashing soap (I figured, if it is good enough to clean crude oil off of wild animals, it's good enough to take off diluted rubber based ink and canola oil off of my cat). While we were rubbing the Dawn in, Joel asked where all the ink stains on my pants were coming from. Jezebel then got a thorough rubdown while we looked for the source. Now, she's a black cat and I was using dark purple ink, so it wasn't very apparent where exactly the ink was. We figured out that it was somewhere on her tail and the rubbing in of canola oil and then Dawn continued on poor Jezebel's tail. After we finished with the oil and Dawn, Jezebel got dunked into a bathroom sink filled with warm water. We did this twice, and the purple ink with this treatment came right off once we figured out where exactly it was. Jezebel got her first bath ever. She's well and feisty, and she won't let us anywhere near her scraggly tail to brush it out.