Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Put it in ink

Speaking of chronicling progress...

Last week, I alluded to an ink-related fiasco at Miles and Laurel. (Just call it the dark side of calligraphy to be dramatic, okay?) One of my friends asked what ever happened to that mess, and the truth is, it really was an ongoing project that just ended.

The background: Josh and I were joking around about my latest calligraphy project, and I started gesturing wildly, and one of my flailing hands sent an open bottle of calligraphy ink sailing.

This was no gentle spill, friends. We both gasped, and he grabbed a roll of paper towels ("Don't rub the ink in!") while I ran to the computer to Google "how to remove black ink from carpet." (That's a Google search I'll never have to re-do.)

The internet was very optimistic about our chances of removing the ink, but I'm not sure we were. There are a bunch of household products that can help, including rubbing alcohol and vinegar. I spent the next two and a half hours blotting the ink stain with paper towels and rubbing alcohol. Each pile of paper towels kept lifting up a bunch of black ink, so I was happy that it seemed productive. (But I was definitely excited to go to Lake Minnetonka by the end of the morning.)

When I came home, I was excited to see what the spot looked like after all that work, and the moment that I saw that it appeared that I had done nothing at all was the only time that I got really frustrated about the whole mess. I mean, it looked bad.

We had stopped at our local hardware store for gardening supplies the previous day, and my calm fiancé remembered that the woman ahead of us in line had been renting a Rug Doctor carpet-cleaning machine. The next day, I trotted back to the store to rent our own Rug Doctor, for $25 for a full day (cheaper, I rationalized, than new carpet might be).

We got to work with the little machine and the bottle of carpet cleaning solution that you buy with it. This is the closest thing I have to a Before picture. I think it gives you the general idea of how rough our starting point was, considering that I had spent the better part of the previous morning pulling black ink out of the carpet. Our hopes were not set high at this point.

But, oh my, the Rug Doctor is a good machine. It took out a ton of the ink and also made the rest of the carpet look a lot better. This is what it looked like after about an hour:

The next morning's light was not quite as kind:

But still, when I returned the Rug Doctor the following day after another hour or so of work on the spot, the progress was undeniable.

A day or two later, I had reaffirmed my resolve to keep chipping away at this darn ink stain. We went back to the hardware store and I asked where we might find ink removers. The staff member pointed us in the right direction, and we picked out two products that looked promising. (That's also when I saw that the Rug Doctor's cleaning products line also included a spot treatment for particularly difficult stains, which I had totally overlooked when I rented the machine. Oops. If you ever find yourself in this situation, try that first, please!)

Enter the next step: the spray bottle. Of course, I just threw away the bottle so I can't sing the exact brand's praises to you, but it's pretty obvious: it says something about specifically being for all kinds of ink-meets-carpet fiascos.

The instructions say to spray the stain, cover it with paper towels, and place something heavy on it ("like a phone book"), with the promise that within an hour or two, the ink will be lifted out of the carpet. I don't think we even have phone books, so instead I used some college textbooks, my medicine ball, and a box of my winter clothes. Here are my helpers in action:

That stuff is magic! Over the next few days, it kept lifting ink with each application, so I kept working on it. Here's the carpet, closer to the end of the week:

And when I ran out of the cleaning solution, I took it as a sign that our project had reached an appropriate end, and we deemed the carpet salvageable. Cue the trumpets!

Perfect? No. An enormous relief? Yes!

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