Monday, December 16, 2013

I just figured out how to screen print my own t-shirts, and all I got was this lousy t-shirt

"If you seek information, read words.
If you seek understanding, have experiences."

-- Cozonacci

Self portrait 12-16-13
"From the very beginning of his education, 
the child should experience the joy of discovery."

-- Alfred North Whitehead

When was the last time you got so excited about something that you literally jumped up and down, clapped your hands and squealed "I did it! I did it!" like a 4-year old?

For me, it was Saturday.

For my birthday way back in July, my son Sam gave me a screen printing kit. I asked for it, and I wanted it, but the thing has been sitting in its box since summer. I got out the instructions a couple of times, but in my then-sleep-deprived and anxiety-riddled state, I just didn't have it in me to figure the damn thing out.

But yesterday, well-rested and medicated, I finally took the plunge.

It was a process. But learning is all about the process, right? That's why it's called the learning process. Someone can tell you how to do something, but until you actually do it, you'll never truly understand it. Which meant I had to read through all of the steps in the instruction book, and then do all of the steps in the instruction book if I ever wanted to understand how to make an actual screen print. So that's what I did.

And when it worked -- when I lifted the screen and the t-shirt underneath it actually bore the exact image of the self-portrait stencil I'd made, it was like a little miracle. Leo was helping me out by holding the wooden frame down while I drew the ink squeegee across the screen. As previously stated, I jumped, clapped and squealed. We high-fived. We exclaimed "It worked!" "It worked!" My husband took a picture of the tender newborn on his iPhone and texted it to Sam, so he could see the first-fruits that came from his gift.

I made two t-shirts (one for me, one for Leo) and three posters. They all came out perfectly. Sam said he'd put a poster in his dorm room.

Now I realize there are folks out there who can do pretty sophisticated and impressive things with screen printing. And I acknowledge that my rudimentary little t-shirts and posters lurk somewhere in the far, far edges of the screen printing spectrum. But give me time. I'll get there.

Today's face isn't about the product. It's about the process. It's about expanding myself to learn something new. It's about not being afraid of the unknown, but diving (or tip-toeing) into the unknown and figuring it out. It's about choosing to grow a tiny little bit instead of shrinking back. It's about feeling that 4-year-old excitement of accomplishment -- like learning to ride a two-wheeler or tie your own shoes. Sure, a whole bunch of other people can already do it, ho hum. But this is the day I learned how to do it, and I did it all by myself!

That feeling never gets old, even if I do.