artistic crash and burn

march 20. 2000

Sunrise, SunsetThis 2d design project that I've been tangling with this past week put me through hell, in every way, shape and form. First it was the acquisition of the materials. The acrylic plastic I got ended up being way too heavy and thick (you'd be amazed how heavy it can be, even at only 3/16 of an inch), so I had to go back to Arch Street plastics a second time and get some thinner stuff. Then I had to buy fabric. Then I had to buy this wet medium acetate (which means you can paint on it and it won't bead up on the acetate), which was just insanely expensive. All in all, the total money spent for this project came close to $50. My debit card cringes.

The assignment was that we had to make a collection of things, and then draw six different versions, one in black and white, one in gray tones, one in full color, one in complementary colors, etc. I had such a good concept. My collection item was handwriting, and I had combed through old letters I had from various people, trying to find some interesting specimens. Using the free laser photocopier in the studio (*grin*), I blew up the handwriting until it was just big loopy shapes. It was an interesting idea to me...something thought of as insignificant and disposable (as handwriting can be) was made very important and seen in an entirely different light.

My idea was to draw the handwriting on clear acetate, and then glue it in between two sheets of the plastic acrylic, using solvent cement, which bonds acrylic together colorlessly, seamlessly and permanently. It didn't happen like that, however. The best laid plans...Murphy's Law...it all comes back to bite me in the ass eventually.

I took my materials into class today with the intention of working on it. Things began to go awry when I put the solvent cement on the acetate, and the sharpie marker I had used on it began to bleed. I thought when it said "permanent marker" it was, well, permanent. Then I tried to glue the acrylic to the acetate. Instead of being clear as was desired, it got all whitish and icky. I must have been sending out "help me, my project is going to pieces" vibes because Rebecca was soon at my side, offering help and suggestions and trying to dissuade me from crying and/or banging my head on the desk. I love this woman. She is endlessly patient and wonderful with me. She provided several different extremely smelly solvents obtained from the photo lab that were all kinds of toxic in an effort to clean up the mess, but nothing we tried worked. So I concluded that I had to start over. I trudged back to the dorms, despondent. I had worked at least 5 or 6 hours on this project already, all for naught.

I knew this miniature disaster wasn't the result of poor planning. It was because I just didn't know the materials well enough. Which I guess is my fault, because I like to make it hard for myself. I could have done this project on paper, like a normal, sane person. But I chose to do with a material I didn't know a whole lot about, and in the end it cost me a lot more stress and money than could have been expended. I guess it's not an entirely bad thing, because you don't learn about anything unless you try it.

This story does have a happy ending, because I was able to get the project done to my satisfaction (albeit at 2:45 am). It wasn't perfect, but I think it was adequate. So goes another chapter in the life of an art student, the drama of dramas, coming to a website near you.