You are currently browsing the tag archive for the ‘art’ tag.

When you tie-dye a t-shirt, they tell you to keep it in the plastic bag for at least 24 hours, or several days more, to allow the dye to soak into the fabric so the colors of your shirt will be vibrant. What they don’t tell you is that after those first several days have come and gone and you’ve more or less forgotten about the tie-dying because you’re home from family camp and fully transitioned into school year mode, your wet shirt, which has been scrunched or twisted up and secured with rubber bands and enclosed in a sealed ziploc bag, will become fertile ground for colonies of mold. Or possibly mildew. I am honestly not sure of the difference, when it comes to gross spots growing on something I was planning to put on my body. Either way, when you remember to take the shirts out of their bags and start the chiropractic appointment-inducing process of rinsing them out in the bathtub, and you see the grayish brownish spots clustered across the shirts, you make a face that indicates an unpleasant mixture of disappointment, frustration, and disgust.


Your research reveals that a possible remedy could be soaking the shirts in vinegar. Although in your gut you feel like they’re too far gone, you have to try. Surprisingly, three different stores you visit are completely out of white vinegar. Finally, you order some online from Target, in one of your midnight shopping sprees where you make other exciting purchases such as frozen burritos, saltines, maxi pads, paper towels, and Cinnamon Toast Crunch. You are living the high life.

Because that’s the way you roll, it takes a few more weeks for you to actually soak the shirts, although they have been rinsed and are dryish and you are pretty sure no longer nurturing the fungus (if it even is fungus?) besmirching them. You’re just feeling kind of defeated by them. The giant jug of vinegar sits in the hallway, mocking your bad decision making and poor time management skills.

As time passes, you think a lot about preschool. One of the many mantras at your kids’ amazing cooperative preschool was “process, not product.” Emphasis on the kids doing whatever they wanted to do with the materials put in front of them — or that they unearthed while playing in the mud garden or tromping through the woods — rather than the ultimate creation of something recognizable or a specific end goal. This is a good rule of thumb for life with little ones, as products rarely–if ever–turn out as expected. Also a good thing for adults to remember, although we are usually held to the standard of producing some kind of acceptable end result. And process is how you learn. Process is the journey. Process is the sensory experience of getting your hands dirty–or stained with dye in the arts and crafts cabin at camp. You recall the peaceful hour spent with your nine-year-old carefully choosing tie-dye patterns, helping them rubber band the shirts, and finding exactly the right color combinations. You each made a shirt or two and a couple bandanas. The bandanas are easy but not quite as satisfying as a result.

If you’re being truthful, each of you already has several tie-dye shirts in your drawers, that you made at previous family camps or on summer vacations during the pandemic. So you’ve enjoyed the process many times before, and even managed to make some decent shirts.

Now that you have soaked the shirts (and stunk up the house with the aroma of vinegar) and washed the shirts and dried the shirts, you discover that three of the shirts still have enough remaining mold (or mildew!?) stains to make them unwearable. Somehow one shirt emerged unscathed, as well as two bandanas.

You wonder if there is anything useful to do with the rejected shirts. You already have enough dust rags for a squadron of Cinderellas. You fleetingly imagine cutting up sections of the shirts that aren’t stained and sewing them into something else. But what? A doll-sized blanket? Plus, you can’t sew. You think of your friend who can sew and wonder what she would do. In addition to sewing, she is an expert at tie-dying, and you’re certain she would never have made the mistake of allowing tie-dyed t-shirts to languish in their baggies until they grow things. But her kids attended that same preschool, and you know she would appreciate your “process not product” attempt at consolation.

Lately I’ve made a lot of mistakes. Somehow more than what I expect from myself, as if I am more than human. My new mantra, although I am many decades out of preschool, is process, not product. I am still learning.

I’ve discovered that I love Haida art. Until this week I had never heard of Haida art, or the Haida people or mythology. Vancouver is filled with First Nations art, artifacts, and cultural references. I think First Nations is a much better term than Native Americans to refer to the people who lived on our continent before our own (or at least my own) ancestors arrived. Americans is what we are, and the native people were their own tribes with their own identities before anyone called the continent North America or the country the United States of America. First Nations gets it right that they were here first. I don’t know anything about First Nations history or whether these people were as brutalized as Native Americans were by the US government. Something to read up on. But I do love their art, and it’s everywhere. I have resisted buying potholders or keychains featuring the Raven, but I have found some beautiful cards featuring paintings by Bruce Morrisseau, Norval Morrisseau, and Roy Thomas.

Another small piece of ignorance undone–I’ve discovered that French is more widely spoken in Canada than I thought. I have been to Montreal and Quebec and knew that everything there is bilingual, but there seems to be a lot of French around here too. At the Vancouver International Children’s Festival, Zoe and I enjoyed a performance by Mauvais Sort, a folk rock group from Quebec.  They sang in French. Not that it mattered. The music was fantastic and both toddlers and tweens crowded the dance floor in front of the stage.

Today I tried to teach my child what exploring means. That you don’t necessarily know where you’re going. You’re just going. To a small person who is fully immersed in the “when will we be there?” phase, walking for the sake of walking is a challenging concept. But this morning, she aced it. We left our hotel in search of a breakfast spot. There are many coffee shops in Vancouver, even besides Starbucks, which is just as ubiquitous here as it is in DC, and I am determined to sample them. We found a lovely spot where she had a parfait and I had a prosciutto and egg breakfast panini. They’re into paninis here, which I endorse. Covering one wall of the coffee shop were newspaper centerfolds of Canuck players. I appropriated a newspaper from a nearby table and explained what hockey is and why the people of Vancouver are so excited about it right now. We sounded out the “DROP THE PUCK!” headline on the front cover of the tabloid.

Then we walked. We found a mosaic-tiled fountain by the Vancouver Art Gallery. We spent quite a while in the gift shop of the museum, although we didn’t go into the exhibit because I didn’t want to pay for both of us knowing Zoe would want to zip through it in about two minutes. The gift shop was outstanding (I am a connoisseur of gift shops) and had an extensive section for kids. Zoe found a bowl of cats and played with them for a while. She kept asking me to petsit her cats so she could buy supplies for them, but I was trying to shop. I bought her a book about Rene Magritte, one of my favorite artists, after she had looked at some of his work in the shop. We read it tonight at bedtime and she said she thought his paintings were pretty cool.

After that we found more sculptures, an ice rink (where Zoe said she wanted to learn to skate this winter), and many many steps to climb up and down. We were near the court buildings and I saw several men with white judicial collars. We walked down Robson Street and ducked into a few shops. We made our way back toward the water, finding lunch at a market and eating on a bench in Harbour Green Park, overlooking Burrard Inlet. We watched seaplanes take off and land. We watched joggers, walkers, and cyclists go by. Zoe ate an entire apple. Then we checked out the sculptures at the Vancouver Convention Centre before retrieving our car to visit the Vancouver Aquarium. Clearly this last bit isn’t accidental wandering, but a plan made while we were looking out at the water.

The aquarium was excellent and we saw a dolphin show and several beluga whales. I’ve never before been so close to dolphins or whales, and it was a fun outing. Seeing the dolphin show made up for the fact that we had waited for 15 minutes in line for a 4D movie, and had sat through a public service announcement and the first minute of it when Zoe started sobbing and asking to leave, after having solemnly pledged to be brave (before we entered the theater). She may be extraordinary, but she is still four.

I am a planner, and Zoe constantly demands information and answers. So several hours of exploring were good for both of us.

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 1,259 other subscribers


Follow You Ask a Lot of Questions on

Listen to my podcast: Five Questions with Betsy Rosenblatt Rosso
%d bloggers like this: