She's crafty (or, Even veterinarians get the blues)
I’m afraid that after a long, hard day one of my favorite escapes is among the most mundane known to man: needlework. It’s almost embarrassing to mention, especially now that absolutely everyone has taken up my long-time habit of knitting.
So as a way to expand from the commonplace act of knitting, I’ve ventured into that vast craft universe beyond—a veritable no man’s land of arcane tools where everything is experimental by design. That’s the part I love.
If you can’t relate to this mania, the one that makes you want to produce things of your own as a sort of anti-commercialist statement (as well as for pure self-absorbed luxury and as a relaxing stand-in for Prozac), then perhaps you can warm up to this pet-friendly craft project I’ve devised for your manual and visual pleasure:
X-ray sunprints. Sunprint kits are available everywhere from Martha Stewart online to Barnes and Noble bookstores. A well-appointed craft store should carry kits, too.
Essentially, this process involves taking a photograph of a large negative—which is basically what a large X-ray is, one big gigantico photographic negative.
The hardest part involves securing the X-ray from your vet. Most vets still use X-ray film, not digital X-rays. (If your vet has gone digital already it means you have a high-tech vet but no possibility of making a sunprint. Sorry.) Now you have to have an X-ray taken of your dog (usually about $50).
The unluckiest among you may already have some of your pet’s X-rays on file. Legally, they must remain in the vet’s possession for seven years. But most vets will let you “sign them out” with a promise to return them. As the sunprint process does not damage the film, you’ll be capable of returning them almost immediately.
The next step requires a sunny day. A winter day will make for a softer picture and a longer exposure time. A summer day makes crisper pics. Either way, results are glorious.
The process involves laying the X-ray over a piece of light sensitive paper in the sunlight for a few seconds. You then take the paper inside and immerse it in water with a little lemon juice in it. Depending on the type of paper, a lighter bluish, greenish or reddish background emerges around a darker image (almost all kits include the blue type of paper).
I’ve given images as presents to friends and they’ve always been met with absolute adoration. People love to see their pets on film—even if only their insides. It’s an unmistakably singular gift that makes for a striking appearance when framed.
Here are some pics for your viewing pleasure. (I apologize for the poor photography but I was having trouble with my macro lens.)
An external fixator on a leg after a horrific fracture:
A knee after cruciate ligament surgery:
Another fracture repair:
A surgeon's gift of appreciation (framed):