Pearl Binder lodges with an ostler’s family amongst the hay and the horses in Spread Eagle Yard, Whitechapel.
She is a lithographer producing prints with a technique based on the principal that oil and water don’t mix. She draws her pictures with special wax crayons on a limestone plate that is then covered with a watery mix of nitric acid and gum Arabic that etches into any areas on the plate not protected by wax. The plate is then wiped clean with turpentine and dampened. Oily printing ink is then rolled over the plate. It is repelled by the wet areas but clings to the grease. A paper sheet is placed on the inked plate and squeezed through a press that transfers the ink from stone to paper to print Pearl’s lithograph.
Pearl looks at her lithographs of the East End that she has laid out in her room –Spread Eagle Yard; prize fighting in Luna Park; Watney Market; the old woman selling bagels in Brick Lane; Pennington Street wine vaults in the London Docks; Whitechapel Bell Foundry; the Thames and sailing barges in Wapping; Limehouse Causeway at midnight; Aldgate in the rain; Chinatown; Blackwall Tunnel. Perhaps she should show them in the Whitechapel Library?
Thomas Burke, the writer, is meant to be here to see if he can use any of Pearl’s prints to illustrate his new book The Real East End. But he’s late now – very late. So should she wait for him? It’s Saturday night after all and outside the Yard Whitechapel girls are flouncing by in their finery. Pearl’s friend Aniuta is expecting Pearl to come dancing with her and Harry Barr, David Bomberg and Marc Gertler, The Whitechapel Boys. Now Pearl, is it going to be pictures tonight or dancing? Dancing or pictures?
This tale is about my Mum and it’s true.
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