A Supposedly Easy Craft.

january 31st, 2016

Marriage means more family, and more family means more Christmas presents to assemble. Last year around Thanksgiving my bright idea for holiday gifts that would be personal and thoughtful yet also mass‑produced was to CRAFT a large batch of Christmas presents. i'd noticed the gorgeous batik napkins at MC Larso's house when we visited in November. Batik napkins. Hell yes.

Batik is kinda like tie‑dye, except with designs drawn deliberately with wax rather than created rando'ly by the tie binding.

i found this blogpost about a batik project with kids. They used a gel glue rather than wax. Easier to use, water soluble. Perfect. Plus my hair is DIY gorgeous and saturated. i'm the Dye Master!! i'm the Color Queen!!

Ordered some gel glue and white cotton napkins online, picked up some fabric dye at Michael's, and boom clap ready to go!

i drew designs on 30 napkins with gel glue. Sometimes i went for a recognizable design like “tree” or “Greek key” but mostly they were rando. Not easy to see in this photo but up close with a human eye there are clearish gel glue designs all over these. i went through about one 8 oz bottle of gel glue per fifteen 20"x20" napkins.

hanging batik napkins to dry

Then the fun part: dye! The fabric dye from Michael's specifically forbade applying dye directly to fabric, but i'm a craft rebel who believes craft rules are meant to be CRAFT BROKEN so i painted that dye directly to the napkins like Craft Patti Smith or Craft Che Guevara.

dye painted directly to the napkins drying batik napkins

The drying napkins were saturated with gorgeous color, but painting took MUCH more time than i liked. i could only muster the energy to do six per night, and as is the way of the holidaze, Time Was Running Out. Thus, i read the actual instructions on the fabric dye, which said to immerse the fabric for an hour in a boiling mixture of dye and water. If the fabric in question was cotton, add some salt to the water as well.

Ok but so, i feared that boiling would immediately dissolve the gel glue, thus totally negating the point of the batik (don't erase my rando drawings!!). Instead i chose a middle path: i poured some hot salty dilute dye into a plastic tub, then rubbed a set of six napkins around in it until saturated. This worked out pretty well and went much faster than the foolish paint method. Hooray, Christmas was saved!

monochrome dye method for home craft batik project

In that kid craft blog post the last step was to wash out the gel glue. But in my case i wanted these napkins to be re'usable and machine washable, which meant assuring to the best of my ability that there would be no dye bleed after normal use and wash. Hm. i rinsed each set of six napkins thoroughly in very hot water, then machine washed and dried them afterward.

The final product was rather pastel. But still heartfelt! Homemade! With some ironing and folding they looked rather nice.

final product | home batik gel glue craft project final product | home batik gel glue craft project

things i might try in the future
i might try real wax like Big Girl Batik style. i might also try good old gel glue boiled on the stove for an hour in salty dilute dye, see what happens.

Artist in Presidence.

january 26th, 2016

In researching Trump and Sanders for a recent addition to my series of political homoerotica, i read a line in the National Review that struck me:

both parties have been infested by candidates who have treated the presidency as an entry‑level position.

Yah. That resonated. Young Dallas noted that 19th century President Jackson capitalized on the mythos of the Outsider President. But taking a closer look at ol' Andy Jack, he won his first Federal elected office in 1796, followed by 20 years of military command and management. A ruthless shithead manager, yes. Entry‑level commander, no.

So then i was thinking: of the 20th century Presidents, which do i consider the best, and what were their backgrounds before becoming President, and who in the current political field has a comparable background? Reverse engineering.

my top three picks at present: Lyndon Johnson (civil rights), Franklin Roosevelt (recovery from the Great Depression), Woodrow Wilson (support for labor domestically, peace internationally). No saints, these three. LBJ and FDR were likely sociopaths. At best, they were master manipulators. LBJ doubled‑down on US commitment to Vietnam. FDR's New Deal and fireside chats boosted morale, sure. But it was the WWII war machine responsible for a renewed economy. Wilson criminally suppressed dissent during WWI and didn't give a fock about segregation. i'd forgotten about that until researching today. Ugh. Fock that.

These were not perfect guys. But if i'm picking three from the 20th century, it's these three. So what were their backgrounds? FDR and LBJ started in elected politics when they were 28 and 29. They both had over 20 years of federal office and military service before they were elected US President. Wilson was president of Princeton, then Governor of New Jersey for, like, a minute before he was elected. He's the only President with a PhD.

In the current political field, none of the candidates have a background and disposition that match those of my faves. In particular, military service is now a class marker rather than a political and personal proving ground. And the US Presidency is certainly High Class, regardless of Jackson's success to the contrary. It's an office for people who were born to, or acquired, High Class markers like vast wealth, the right last name, a Harvard degree, a Senate seat, &c.

Fashion 2016.

january 11th, 2016

Here is a list of fashion ideas i wrote in my notebook last week:

Colors. Mixed patterns. Big fashion. Big jewelry. Dramatic capes. Monocles. Giant hats. Crowns. Headdresses. Germanic fashion. Ancient Bavarian fashion. Wolf headdress. Laced bodices. Braids. Soft things buckled and affixed close to the body. Feathers.

High pants. Mens shoes. Suspenders. Tuxedos. Dressing like a male stripper. Brecht makeup. Red circle cheeks. Geisha makeup without the whiteface. Short skirt kimonos. Giant bear coats. Pillbox hats.

Ultra formal wear retrofit to casual wear. Ballgowns and shit. Suits of armor. Mongolian kings, layers and layers of robe. Swish swish, go the robes.

Sacks. Sack clothing. Big collars, jabots, manacles. BUSSELS. Motherfocking BUSSELS. Goggles. Buttons in weird places. Mirrored goggles. Headscarves like in Grey Gardens. Extremely high turtlenecks. Hidden pockets. Flaps. Flies.

One piece bound all around, like a present. Deep crews. Deep Vs. Teeth. Hair. Fur. Claws. Giant pants. Tails.

Uniforms. Like a FedEx uniform. Karate outfits. Karate kis. Motorcycle jackets. Jumpsuits. Togas!! Lace in layers, like gauze wrapping. High waists. Waist going all the way up tot he [sic] underboob. No seams. Like a giant sock.

Concrete clothes. Wood clothes. Lava clothes. Liquid clothes. Spray on clothes. Clothes like a mummy. Glass clothes.

Here's a first pass on Fashion 2016, not necessarily incorporating any of the above. Butch and fly!

erica dreisbach | butch and fly | Fashion 2016

But then i saw part of To Catch a Thief on loop at Quartino during Vlad's company dinner on Saturday. And now i'm thinking, scratch all these crazy ideas, replace with To Catch a Thief.

fashion in 'To Catch a Thief'

2015 in Review, 2016 in View.

january 2nd, 2016

For someone who claimed her major goal for 2015 was “fuck goals” i did a lot.

i proposed to Vlad in April and in August we got married.
i ran a marathon in October.
In November i started volunteer tutoring two kids in Rogers Park in math and reading.
i completed 40 weeks of improv training at Second City.
i tried stand‑up comedy.
i auditioned for Jeopardy.
i toured three cities as a traveling poet and nearly broke even :)
i competed and clobbered in Write Club.
i headlined at the Green Mill Uptown Poetry Slam.
i performed a lot a lot a lot a lot.

i wrote 22 blog posts here, and 10 more at Tacky Harper's Cryptic Clues.
i posted 12 videos to YouTube.
i wrote 4 new poems.
i epublished emotions on the major estores*
*a nasty experience i am unlikely to repeat
i took my Canon AE‑1 out for some spins.
i built or worked on eight new websites.

i maintained alcohol sobriety.
i worked out 151 times, which i'm VERY proud of! Exercise these days necessary for ensuring access to basic adult coping mechanisms.

2016 resolutions and fantasies

This year i have a million! Resolutionfiesta! Fantasyfalooza!

The main goal this year is fASHioN. i want to be dressed each day like, “hey! Where are you going!” and i'll say, “i'm dressed up for life. i'm dressed up for this conversation.”

Of course more Tacky Harper's posts, blog posts. In my fantasy, Tacky Harper's turns into a book deal.

For years, Vlad and i have fancied writing The Wealth of Peasants. i want to write it in a fugue state with my muse Sweet V by my side, self‑publish, and deliver to Notorious Marcel as a graduation present.

i want to publish homoerotica on Amazon under the name “Lovelace,” much inspired by this Harper's article from February 2014. Women are making money hand over fist publishing books that will never, never ever, be reviewed in the NYTimes Review of Books. Watch how the women laugh, NYTimes. Print media is sinking into the sea, but romance novelists are rocking out on the bough of the ship.

i have a stage play in mind about Ann Coulter. Ann Coulter is compelling to me in a way that's hard to explain. Like: she called President Obama a retard. That word! “retard”  She called John Edwards a faggot. That word! Her political awakening as she tells it was in the ‘90s while working on the Paula Jones case and she was outraged by how the Left ignored Bill Clinton's history of sexual harassment and alleged rape. Which is something that also outrages me, and here Ann Coulter and i are in a strange nest of ourobouri where the extremes meet at a single point and the snake consumes itself.

In the play's opening scene she sits in front of a vanity mirror, tears and mascara running down her face, brushing her hair, singing, “she's so lucky / she's a star / but she cries cries criessssss / in her lonely heaaaaaaa-ar-tuh …”

More projects to write for screen: THE BLANKET THIEF, DR DOG, GAY SUPERHEROES.

classes, lessons
There are many things that i do without having had one formal lesson. This year i want some lessons! i want to take a Photoshop class, a graphic design class, a video editing class, a dialects [accents] class. i want to take guitar lessons. i've been playing guitar for 20 years, but i can't rip out a solo. i want to rip out some solos! i want to take jazz piano lessons. i want to noodle up a jazz piano storm at will.

i want to hold decent conversations in Romanian. Vlad bought me Pimsleur Romanian lessons which are excellent. Highly recommended. Embedded in the language lessons are interesting cultural lessons. Like: one of the early lessons was playing both sides of a conversation in which a man is asking a woman to have a drink, and the woman says she doesn't want to have a drink, and the man asks what time will we have a drink then (8 o'clock? 9 o'clock?), and she says that no she doesn't want a drink any time. And finally the conversation ends with her saying, “you don't understand,” and he says, “what don't I understand?” and she says, “you don't understand Romanian.”

For whom was this conversation meant? The men who might insist? The women who might need to defend themselves? i wasn't sure! But several of the conversations seem to come with a warning: “pay attention. You can't expect the person you're speaking Romanian with to have your best interests in mind.” cf this bit of dialogue:

'You owe 13 lei.' '3? or 13?' 'How many lei do you have?' 'I have 14 lei.' 'You owe 14 lei.'

computers business
i want to learn Ruby and Python. i want to develop with Laravel and Django and Jekyll and Drupal. i want to put some of the glorious modules in paper.js to practical use.

This year marks seven years of working for myself. i used to joke that i'd settle down with a company when i found a boss who's better than i am. In 2015 i called off the search. Now i'm thinking about developing my business to be strong enough and well‑managed enough such that *i* am the boss.

Not so much resolution as fantasy, but i'd love to visit Oregon and LA and Romania (family), Japan (honeymoon), and the Bahamas (beach).

Keep sobriety. Keep studying for Jeopardy. Keep working out. Keep tutoring. Keep working on our marriage every day (practice loving every day).

December 2015 February 2016