Friday, January 24, 2014

Snow/Ice Dyeing - An adventure in the winter wonderland!

My friend Cathy Nault from Orange Octopus Studio does beautiful things with ice dyeing!

photo by Cathy Nault
photo by Cathy Nault

She mostly does cotton and silk scarves for sale. She's one of my #EtsyRVAWearableArts friends so we see each other almost every month at our #meetup. Her craft fair tables look AMAZING too! She's the one who told me to buy the canvas drop cloth as a cheap tablecloth for the 6x3 table I use for fairs. Which leads me to this crazy project!

I love my canvas dropcloth tablecloth for fairs - it piles at the bottom and does a good job at hiding the boxes I bring my stuff in - but I wish it was colorful! I decided to try ice dyeing because it gives interesting patterns and texture plus it looks like it's really fun. I googled "how to ice dye". Dylon has instruction on their website and AC Moore carries the powder. I picked Dylon Bahama Blue and I thought about how I was going to do it - crush up ice in my Snoopy Snowcone Maker? buy the circle ice? use ice maker ice?

Then it snowed and Cathy posted this: SNOW DYEING
photo by Cathy Nault

I was intrigued! I thought - this will be the best time to ever try this. I spread out my dropcloth/tablecloth in the back yard. I swept the snow off the deck and spread it in a thin layer over the cloth. I opened the dye pack and sprinkled...uh...word to the wise here: the powdered dye is very very lightweight (the packaging might actually weigh more than the crystals) and blue dye crystals look EXACTLY LIKE SNOW until they get the wind took a lot of my dye and made my backyard blue (it keeps getting bluer as the snow melts and refreezes) and then I didn't have enough for the other half of my project. No matter - I'll fold it in half and it will be fine!

That was Tuesday afternoon... It didn't get warmer, the snow was not melting and I decided that I had to do something because we have lots of wildlife and I had a feeling I would have a Mitten situation if I left it out. So I dumped a plastic bin, put in one of my cookie racks, folded up the snow filled drop cloth and dropped it into the bin. This is where things started to go wrong -
1) we never raked the leaves up this fall (the vacuum truck was coming on a busy weekend for us and the leaves really hadn't fallen until that week so we only raked the front yard) and there were now a bunch stuck to the now frozen drop cloth. No matter, it will just leave more interesting patterns, I said!

2) cookie racks are not designed to hold 9'x12' 10oz drop cloths filled with now and it collapsed. It's just to let the liquid drip out and how much water can be in this anyway - it's just a dusting of snow, I said!

Okay - some of you may know this, but I'm a chemist by education. I've taken and taught A LOT of science classes and calorimetry is an absolute favorite experiment of mine. I know what the R is r-value for insulation means (thermal resistance) and how to test for it in different materials. AND I watch SurvivorMan and know that igloos offer excellent insulation... why in the world did I think that snow wrapped in canvas would melt overnight? When I went to bed, 5 hours after bringing the bin inside and setting it by the floor vent, there wasn't even condensation in the bin! When I woke up, there wasn't a drip in the bottom! It wasn't until a full 24 hours after bringing the bin in that I noticed a bit of blue water in the bottom. Better suck that up so that the table cloth on the collapsed cookie rack doesn't sit in it and not give me cool patterns!

By bedtime on Thursday, I had sucked out a total of 45 cups of water! Waiting for me on Friday morning were another 6... it's been 60 hours inside, I don't see it dripping anymore - I think it's done! I go to rinse it out - the center is still filled with snow!! Regardless of whether the process is done, I'm done, so I take the cloth outside and shake the remaining snow out hoping to also shake off the leaves. It's 18 degrees outside and my damp dropcloth freezes in less than 2 minutes. Leaves are still stuck to it, snow balls - both Bermuda Blue and icy white - are still stuck to it.

I get off what I can and toss the whole thing into the washer with cold water and vinegar. I pulled it out to clean out the leaves and it looks pretty good. We'll see when it comes out of the dryer!

I think I'm going to leave this craft to Cathy but here's what I've learned (and should have applied from learning them in all of my other crafting fiascos):
1 - you're supposed to use multiple colors of dyes when ice dyeing
2 - start small
3 - do this craft in warm weather
4 - canvas is a good insulator
5 - read a variety of instructions before you begin a project (soaking in soda ash or salt solution might have been more vibrant)

Monday, January 6, 2014

Bulletin Board Ideas - Movie Night

You may know that I like the PTA and that I organize PTA events. I did the Mistletoe Market vendor fair last month with great success and this month, I'm organizing Movie Night. Movie nights are great community events - they're pretty cheap to do (I ask for a $600 budget but it's mostly pass-thru for pizza and snacks) and the point is not to make a profit. Here's a how-to to organizing movie night for an elementary school:

1 - get to okay from the principal and PTA board.
2 - choose a movie. Most schools like G movies but let's be real - good G movies are rarely made these days. I usually check DVD release dates for movies that come out close to my movie night date and then check what Common Sense Media has to say about the movie (I like to pick movies that green light age 6 and get 4 or 5 stars from parents).
3 - apply for a one-time event/one-time viewing license. It's usually best to not charge admission - it changes the type of license you need. We make up the cost of the license on concessions just like the movie theaters do. BetweeCriterion Pictures that represents both 20th Century Fox and Paramount Pictures which includes Dreamworks Animation and Blue Sky Studios and Swank Motion Pictures which represents basically everything else including Disney, New Line and WB, you only need 2 email addresses and you can show any movie you want!
4 - get your ducks in a row - got equipment? projector, screen, dvd player, speakers (and no, computer speakers are not cool)? ask the local theater is they can donate anything - movie passes, popcorn, etc, call pizza places to find out how much it costs for the pizza (PTAs often get a discount b/c they are a non-profit) and decide how much you're going to charge for it, buy drinks and candy at Costco.
5 - advertise! flyers, reservation/order forms, posters and bulletin boards. The good news is that with your site license, they allow you to use the name and official artwork to advertise your event internally (you can't do that outside of the school community though - no radio spots, no billboards, not even the sign outside of the school). My reservation and pizza pre-order form has student name, teacher name, number attending and pizza order info but the most important words on this form are this phrase, "For the safety and security of all who attend, children must be accompanied by an adult."

Now, for what you're all here for - the bulletin board!  This huge bulletin board is in the foyer of my kids' school. It's for the PTA's use. This month, we are advertising 2 events - the Barnes & Noble book fair fundraiser and Movie Night.

I did not photograph this as I was doing it, so you're getting the mock up.
1 Movie poster
1 yd of cheap black cotton fabric
1 yd of champagne colored tulle
1 sheet of Steam a Seam
1 sheet of black foam board
1 sheet of bright yellow poster board
1 sheet of white poster board (doing it again, I'd go with 2 yellows)
1 Rainbow Loom band (don't tell my kids - I found this one on the floor)
1 black bingo stamper
clear contact paper
popcorn bags
yellow crepe paper
3 different sized round things to trace (I used a demitasse saucer, a regular saucer and a small plate)
scissors, xacto knife, stapler & staples, pins, iron

1 - Make curtains for the poster "movie screen"
I remember when movies screens had curtains and they'd open at the beginning of the movie and close at the end - this was before the oh-so-fun movie trivia was shown when you get in there, of course.  After a trip to the Byrd Theater last week to see a preview of Downton Abbey's Season 4 Premier, I decided to make my bulletin board look like an old fashioned move theater (not gilded and grand but, similar). I bought a landscape poster to be the screen. I cut a strip about 4 inches wide of the black fabric so that I now had a 32 inch piece (curtain) and a 4 inch piece (valence). I then cut 1/2 inch strips of the steam-a-seam sheets.

 Using the steam-a-seam strips, I "hemmed" the valence piece under.

Make sure to measure the poster when doing this step - the valence should be about 3-4 inches smaller than the poster. I cut the curtain piece in half along the fold and sewed both sides to the valence piece with the selvage edge being on the inside of the curtain - this is the only sewing I did and looking back, I could have gotten away with just using steam-a-seam but I was worried about it falling apart on the bulletin board. Press the seam so that the curtain edge is flat. 

Next, make a knife pleat in the curtain section. For the big version, I made 3 outward-facing skip-1 knife pleats. Here on the mock up, I only had room for 1.

I was going as no-sew as I could and used two 1 1/2 inch strips of the 1/2 inch steam-a-seam strips to tack the pleats in place. I removed one side of the paper, ironed it where it needed to go, removed the other side of the paper, refolded the fabric over it and ironed it again

 Finally, I folded down, pinned and pressed the top "seam". I did not sew or use steam-a-seam on this one - it's where I hid the staples when I attached it to the bulletin board! I brought it to the school with the pins in it!

The final (mock up) project!

(Landscape works better for this theme but if I could only find a portrait poster, I would have cut the valence from the width rather than length but I think it would require about the same amt of fabric).

2 - The Projector

I went looking for free clip art to help me design my projector. I found at lot in my google search and was reminded that even though it comes up in a google search, doesn't mean that it's actually free or that the person listing it has the copyrights to it... oh well! I came up with a good design based on a lot of the artwork.

On the black foam board, I placed the largest of my round objects (the regular plate) at the top center - maybe a little off to the left of center - and traced. I put the medium sized round object on edge of the board on the right so the center of the plate was at about at the 3/4 mark and traced. I found the center of the smaller circle and made that the "corner" of the main part of the projector. This should cut thru the bottom of my larger circle. I finished up the front of the projector and cut it out using the Xacto knife (getting clean lines on foam board is HARD). So my extraneous pencil marks wouldn't show, I flipped the now-cut-out foam projector.  I used some of the white poster board to trace the medium (saucer) and small (demitasse saucer) round stencils and cut into sixths. I rounded the edges and then pasted 5 of the 6 white pieces in the center of the reels (I spaced them better than the diagram below - I think I need to install my really old version of Illustrator so I can make my diagrams look cool again). I (ahem, my husband) cut the large and medium circles out of clear contact paper and put them over the the reels to hold them better and give it a bit of glossy definition (really - it shows up).

drawing/cutting diagram for the projector

I found a for-real-free clapboard image and used to add the name of the movie, showing date, time and fact that we're selling concessions - print that, trim the edges, paste and cover with contact paper that too!

3 - pulling it together

I was sharing the board this month with another chairperson - B&N bookfair - so we did a bit of over the phone coordination so that we wouldn't step on toes when we got there. It worked fine b/c we both had a very loose idea of what we wanted it to look like. Both of us also forgot how HUGE this bulletin board is! It's 2 "standard" sized outside of classroom bulletin boards butted up to each other in portrait orientation - GI-NORMOUS! Neither of us planned for the space we had... So after I put up the poster, curtain, tulle light and projector, I ran out to Dollar Tree to get popcorn bags, crepe paper and a bingo stamper and grab the poster board I had at home (my initial plan for the light from the projector now replaced by cheap tulle). I stamped the letters to give them the "Marquee" feel. I filled the popcorn bags with yellow crepe paper and stapled them on the board. It looked done. I felt that if I did any more, it would be over done. I'm happy with how it turned out and I hope you have a successful movie night at your school too! 

Keep warm and cozy as the temps dip into the single digits here overnight!