I have this tube of gouache.

Well, perhaps “had” would be a better word.

It was a brand put out by Holbein, of antique colors, which was labelled entirely in Japanese except for teeny print saying “Holbein Antique Gouache” and which I got several tubes cheap of when the art supply store discontinued the lot. They’re odd colors, with a sort of faded, organic look, meant to reproduce the colors you find in old silk paintings and so forth. I picked up a few of ’em on a whim–who am I to resist a buck a tube?–and loved ’em, although they’re not colors I get a chance to use all that often. I haven’t been able to find them anywhere else, and they stink to high heaven, with this burnt, acrid, probably-carcinogenic stench when wet, so I can see why my store stopped carrying ’em.

But on my moth-catching painting, as I was painting faded blue, I thought “YES! That’s the color!” and dug out that tube of antique blue.

I attempted to open the cap. This did not come to pass.

I got the pliers which I keep shoved in my brush holder for such occasions, and attempted to open the cap. This, too, did not come to pass.

I gritted my teeth, clamped the pliers down like the jaws of a wolverine with tetanus, dropped my chi and centered my gravity and planted my feet and all that stuff, and went ‘HAAAAIIIII!” and twisted, a mighty twist, the sort of twist that Hercules would presumably deliver to the last neck of the hydra as a coup de grace.

The cap held. The rest of the tube did not, which is how one of my favorite Tool shirts and a section of my chin became quite a lovely shade of antique blue.

Fortunately, since it’s gouache, it washed out, as I hunched over the sink muttering obscenities, and by some stroke of grace from the art gods, the explosion missed both the carpet and my painting. I squeezed the offending tube out into a handy palette for future access, hopefully without explosions.

This never happens with pixels.

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