Tuesday, July 31, 2012

status migrainious

four graduate classes and a migraine meltdown later, I am arrived on the other side of the summer! Day 14 with the migraine, but we're working on that.

looking back at what I want this blog to be about, and what I've actually been doing with my life, I see things being very disperate. In the first place, there simply hasn't been time. For much of anything. Except graduate school, and navigating the ins-and-outs of trying to get out of graduate school with a good transcript, a diploma in hand and my sanity in tact. So my blog, I thought, should have been about graduate school, the financial hardships I encountered, and the ways I found to aleviate some of those problems. The graduate student advocate.

I have two semesters left. I'm not sure if this summer caused me to loose focus yet or not. My body is physically revolting; my weightloss and fitness goals, any hopes for a [brief] on-the-cheap roadtrip and a gangbusters quilt-a-thon have been waylaid by my mutinous brain, and the tension effected muscles in my back. The spirit is willing, the flesh is saying "Nope. And you can't make me." With that in mind, I've been culling the blogsphere for projects that I'd like to tackle, but feel like they're more of a pipedream given present circumstances, and others than sound like they might be do-able in my present circumstances. Now, if I could only get over the sudden and irrational fear of the sewing machine...

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

the day I traded in my Sherman for a ballerina

It was one of those weeks where the truth is stranger than fiction, though I could easily substitute month for week.

Least of concerns was that my beloved ThinkPad, Brick-olage, was diagnosed as being little more than an over-glorified portable DVD player. So in exchange for prepping my brother's room to be painted, my parents bought me a replacement laptop so I could finish my graduate school experience. It's an HP, it has a wide screen, and on-board webcam, microphone and SD card reader [really glad i didn't run out and but one of those]. Brick-olage had none of these things going for it except that it was the Sherman tank of laptops. The only thing tougher is a Tough book, the kind cops haul around. The ones build to withstand bullets. I will miss my tank. 

And I have an after market mouse now, too.

One of the things I was working on finishing while I was up here is a tee-shirt example for the kids I will be working with this summer. Last year I semi-copied an elephant reading a book at the library as my design. Working more wet-on-wet this time, especially with the background, I was trying to get a feel for the project if I only gave the students two colours. (dear spell checker, have you decided to go Brit?)

I had started this project last year, and misplaced my paint in the move, and then misplaced the project. It's really very simple.

batik with white glue
Time considerations: 24 hours dry time each for glue and paint

You need:
a. fabric (a child's 12/14 teeshirt)
b. acrylic (permanent) paint, or tempra (washable) with fixative medium
c. paint brushes
d. trash bag, or other large-ish, water impermeable thing to lay under fabric or between shirt layers.
e. White water soluble glue

optional: spray bottle with clean water.

The first part of the process is to lay out the design with white glue. Easier said than done, given a certain lack of control with the glue coming out of a squirt bottle. A stencil might work, if the glue was pounced on with stencil sponges/brushes. Since this project had been misplaced for about a year, I didn't have to worry about the glue drying.

To get the colours to blend, I first sprayed down the tee-shirt with water from a spray bottle, and began layering coat after coat of mixed cobalt blue and teal acrylic. I was worried that the glue would dissolve and I would loose my white glue lines lines, but that wasn't a problem. Working outdoors under direct sunlight, my paint dried relatively quickly, so I was able to quickly layer different colour concentrations on with less bleeding. Once I got the colour looking the way I wanted it to, I let it sit in direct summer sunlight for about three hours.In a classroom setting, the pieces would likely have to dry overnight, depending on humidity and indoor temperature. If using tempra paint plus a fixative medium, the project has to go for a spin in the dryer before being washed. 

Last summer, what this looked like with K-6th graders was a myriad of white plastic bag stuffed tee-shirts laid on the school's cement walk, drying in the sun, then collected at the very end of the day by the art staffers. It should be obvious why the paint needs to dry before going into the dryer, unless you don't mind cleaning the dryer drum. The tees were dry enough that we were able to peel out the bags, stack the shirts in a laundry basket and haul them home for a spin in the dryer [three people had access to their own washer/dryers, so we split up the shirts for washing amongst us]. Since we wanted the kids to wear them before the summer program was over, we included a complete wash cycle after the spin in the dryer, to wash off the white glue. 

What I learned about white glue.. after the wash cycle, I pulled my tee shirt out of our top loader and was astonished to discover a gummy white substance on the shirt... the white glue I had applied last year. Apparently, leaving white glue to dry for an entire year increases the difficulty of washability. I soaked the tee-shirt overnight in a mild detergent solution, then laid it over the upturned side of a dish pan in the kitchen sink, turned the hot water on used the sprayer attachment to help remove the last of the glue.