Saturday, September 28, 2013

Make a Sharpie Tie-Dyed T-Shirt

     I started this project during the summer when I was still thinking I would be incredibly productive AND crafty during my time off, and not loll around drinking coffee and dreading September.   I had found this project on Pinterest, and I thought my daughter and I could each make a shirt while my son and husband went upstate on a guys fishing trip.

We started with these supplies:

     The site I found this on via Pinterest recommended an embroidery hoop to hold the shirt taut, but I was too cheap to buy two of those with my "I now have the summer off budget," so I used from flat pieces of cardboard instead.  

     I had no specific design in mind, I just wanted to make something with curvy lines that was colorful.  I sketched out a few lines with a pencil to make sure my center squiggle was roughly symmetrical, and then I started with the markers.  

     My daughter, who is now 11 and has a highly developed sense of crafting herself, rapidly got frustrated with this craft.  I think for something like this, since you will ultimately be using rubbing alcohol to spread and smear the colors, you need to keep that in mind when planning your design.  She picked a design that was dependent on precise line placement, so she wasn't happy when the marker started bleeding into the surrounding lines before she was done.  She gave up on her shirt way before it was finished.  

     It was hard for me to continue with this when she had given up.  I thought we would have worked on this project together! :-(  But kids move on from disappointment more quickly than we do.  She was on to another craft llooonnnggg before I was done with this one!

     Speaking of long, this took HOURS.  I can make a few recommendations, though.  Don't leave the markers lying around when you have a small dog that likes to chew things like markers...



Open your mouth!"

 (Oh good, her tongue's not blue!)

     If I do this project again, I would try the embroidery hoop or I'd cut the cardboard so that it's bigger than the shirt.  That would hold the shirt more taut, and I wouldn't get those annoying skips in my lines when the marker bunches up in the knit fabric. 

     I worked the design around the side of the shirt from front to back, over the shoulders and around to the back from the top, and also down the sleeves.    Below is the finished shirt - BEFORE the alcohol application...

     I like it with the rubbing alcohol applied - I like that smeary, blended look, but I also like the before version, too.  You decide which one you like better.   

     I think I'm going to wait for the rubbing alcohol to dry completely and then, just to set the colors, hit it all over with a dry, hot iron (with some paper towels or something between it and the iron - just to protect my iron!)

I want to see other shirts! If you've attempted this craft, let me know how yours went!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Vacation in a jar

     I have a jar of hand cream on my desk. It's officially coconut lime scented, but I like to think of it as...
 vacation in a jar.  

     The first time I put this stuff on my hands at work, the woman I shared an office with looked around, sniffing, like a bloodhound on a scent. "Ooohhh - what is that? That smells good." She said.
"Here, it's hand cream. Have some." I offered. She slathered it on and walked a round smelling the backs of her hands for the next 10 minutes.  When friends came into the office, I offered my tub of hand cream by way of greeting. "Hi - here, Smell this," I said to each friend as he or she stopped in. The reaction was always the same.

     I didn't care that it was so thick and slippery I couldn't grip my pen well enough to mind was on vacation with each sniff.  Pretty soon I was just opening the lid of the jar and taking a quick sniff without actually applying the hand cream.  Sometimes you just need a quick pick-me-up without the mess and hassle of a whole moisturizing indulgence.  Feeling the pressure of ten hours worth of work when you only have two hours to complete it?  Close your eyes and take a quick, furtive sniff of coconut lime.  Immediately, it's as if you're sitting on a tropical beach, slathered in suntan lotion and holding a margarita in your hand...  You know, minus the sand in your bathing suit.

     Lately, though, I'm noticing the results I'm getting from my vacation in a jar are not quite what they've been on the past.  The scent seems to be waning... Or maybe it's me.  Now one sniff only seems to get me as far as Central Florida.   I thought the fragrance was getting old until a coworker of mine, whom I have successfully turned into another sniffing enthusiast, came up to my desk and said,

"Hey... Where's your vacation in a jar? I need a short vacation." 

     I took the jar out of my desk drawer where it had been for several weeks of the summer. Here. I handed it to him.  He unscrewed the lid saying,

"Ok... close your eyes... Ready to go to the tropics?"  

He stuck his nose a few scant inches from the goo inside the jar and inhaled deeply...

"Ahhhhhhh, I just went to Jamaica. 
Take a sniff," 

he said, so I did. I suppose I should be changing to some fall scented hand cream soon, but I'm not sure it would be this much fun.

     Does anyone else out there have a scent memory in a jar?  Please share! :-)

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Umbrellas, lunch boxes and and other back to school indignities...

     Way back on my first day of sixth grade, I took both an umbrella and a lunch box to school.  What was I thinking?  How was I to know that what was acceptable had changed drastically over the two months of summer vacation?

      I had walked to the bus stop and I was a little bit late, so my bus stop peers had already boarded the bus.  Had I arrived at the bus stop early enough to chat, they might have told me of my faux pas, but they were a quiet bunch, so I think it's equally as likely that they would have kept their mouths shut and blended into the scenery.   Although it was warm outside, it was and my walk was several hundred feet down the road, so that morning my mother had handed me an umbrella, which I took unquestioningly as I headed out the door.  How did I know the horror that awaited me?  I was the oldest kid in my family, and had no prior experience with "cool" versus "uncool."

     The bus approached before I got to the stop.  It rolled to a standstill, and the door creaked open loudly.  I could see the kids in the front of the bus leaning forward, craning their necks to see who I was, and what I looked like.  I asked, "Is this the bus to the middle school?" the driver said, "yes..." and then I heard it...


     ...and I still had to get on the bus. 

     I don't remember anything else about my day, just that first minute before getting on the bus.  That night I got home and I begged my mother to let me take my lunch to school in a brown bag, but she was not having any of that.  She was practical, and she has just bought the lunch box.  Besides, my lunch would get squished in a brown bag.  She made me a very large tote bag to carry the lunch box in, but it was like carrying a large grenade.  I had to make sure my tote bag was carried verrrryyy carefully, and remained zipped at all times except when I was removing my unsquished lunch.  It also didn't matter that I never, ever took an umbrella to school again, unless I could stash it somewhere before the bus rounded the corner.  I was still Mary Poppins, and I was Mary Poppins almost every day that year.  And the next year, too.  It was acceptable to be sopping wet upon your arrival to school, but it was NOT acceptable to carry an umbrella.  To this day, many decades later, I rarely remember to take an umbrella with me.

     The other day I stood in the backyard at a birthday party for one of my daughter's friends, and another girl's mother asked me, "So what are the COOL stores I have to shop in for school clothes this year?" I smiled wryly to myself and thought of the story I just told you...  Imagine someone asking me about being cool in sixth grade, even though I haven't been a sixth grader for decades?  

     My own kids seem to have a better handle than I ever did on how to refrain from becoming uncool.  Maybe it's because they're fairly close in age - even though they'd never admit it, they look after each other, cover each other's backs like soldiers in battle.   And I've always encouraged them to look out for other kids as well.   I was not very good at that.  Or maybe not as good at it as I would like to say.  When you feel like you're in the crosshairs, and the target moves to someone else, you generally don't feel like bringing yourself back into focus.  You're just relieved that they've finally laid off of you.   Still, we should all try to teach our kids to look after one another.  I tell my kids, "If you see a kid picking on another kid, tell that mean kid to cut it out."  You might have some influence, I tell them.  

Strong people stick up for themselves.

The strongest of people stick up for others.