Sunday, September 5, 2010

laundrette for india: the truth, updated and otherwhirled

imagine: "commercial dryer, hottest temperature, commercial dryer, HOTTEST temperature" in a loud voiced, strong korean accent. "commercial dryer, hottest temperature", she said, over and over. every single syllable enunciated. my teacher sun-ja insisted this to us as we were getting ready to put together our research sample notebooks for her advanced textile printing course. "all dyes must be fixed. use heat! no need to wash!!!" so off i trundled one fall evening to the "laundra-mat". on grand island. in 1977. i was 19, a junior in the textile design department. 


into the commercial dryer they went. dozens of samples. dozens of fiber combinations, all sorts of colors and patterns, screen printed, direct dyed, tie dyed, photo emulsions, painted... in they went. the lady (there's always a lady) hobbled around as i sat down with my history text. and read, while the dryer thumped. 


thumped.


and thumped. the lady hustled to the phone with alarm and called the volunteer fire department. making eye contact, i emerged from the study trance to see her fling open my dryer "HEY!" i protested.  inside my somewhat smaller precious collection of samples nestled in the steel drum were in flames. over i ran and in scurried firemen and poured in some water as smoke poured out of the vents under the dryer. the firemen scooped up the fiber and flung it out the door onto the walk. one semester's work. burned. melted. unsalvagable.


a new version of "the dog ate my homework".


...and to explain, you must visit india's challenge and know that this story is NOT fiction, so it doesn't qualify, but oh my god, it's true and it just about killed me. 

11 comments:

Kit said...

Great story! and valuable learning experience!

Mnemosyne said...

oh gosh......i'd be in tears. glad you shared this one. life and it's curveballs.

jude said...

oh and all along i thought you made it up. now i am not laughing.

Lisa Israeli said...

Do you think that I can survive in India if I am a clean freak? I want to go; but my kids say I'll never make it.

Velma said...

i can laugh now. i was amazed by that intervention! fire in the landramat. i worked really really hard to get enough samples in just a short time. i think i got a decent grade, but to be honest i don't remember.

india--though i can't speak from personal experience, i'd say go instead to a scandanavian country where cleanliness is the standard. or, shed the freakishness!

kaite said...

so moisture was needed after all, nasty little lesson for a 19yo...k.

grace Forrest~Maestas said...

the photo is priceless.

Velma said...

india's photo, my learning. my experience with synthetic dye printing processes was, shall we say, negative.

EMBELLISHER said...

wonderful story. Was the burnt tangle just thrown away or did you use it in your work?

neki desu said...

did you make peace w. synthetic dyes after, let's say, the accident? good story

Velma said...

i may have salvaged one or two bits. i made peace with synthetic dyes, but NOT synthetic fabrics!