Tuesday, December 1, 2015

An Open Letter To My Chemistry Teacher(s)

I write this with a heavy heart, even thinking about the trauma that my high school chemistry courses induced.

My first chemistry teacher was actually the cheerleading coach. She was the only person who I'm quite confident knew less than I did, or do, know about chemistry. And I harbor no ill will there - chemistry is poorly presented at BEST in public school in general. No one should or could have been interested in it at my high school in the year (redacted.)

I remember vividly (as does my poor father) dissolving into giggles that got me kicked out of class at the WORDS molality and molarity. My children's book-soaked brain could do nothing but conjure up images of tiny moles with pointy faces doing ridiculous things when I heard these words and I could no longer concentrate.

My second chemistry teacher (how did I last that long??) made a long speech by (insert your favorite politician here) seem FASCINATING.

I didn't stand a chance.

And then - far too late in my life - came Walter White.

Walter White was the FIRST person in my life who made me appreciate chemistry. No - he made me LOVE chemistry. If only my class had featured dissolving a drug dealer in an inappropriate container one of the examples - I might have become a scientist.

Unbeknownst to me, the cheerleading coach and the drone, I actually had already been well versed in chemistry prior to meeting Walter White through my art supplies - alcohol and water, alkyds, properties of salt + pigment, yada yada - but to me those were practical matters needed for my projects - not scientific or academic pursuits.

So this weekend, as I donned about 400 pairs of latex gloves to do all the turkey prep and food prep for the holiday, I was in frequent contact with the box of gloves. (I never cook without gloves - my kitchen could double as a makeshift surgical unit.)

The box says that petroleum products can dissolve latex.

A light went off.

Kristina Werner had told me that the latex polish barrier she had painted on my fingers before she did her awesome manicure was like "masking fluid for nails."

I had a paintbrush that I had used to apply masking fluid for this card that was 100% gummed up. But I couldn't bring myself to throw it away.

Everyone tells you to designate a paintbrush for masking fluid, but that doesn't really make sense to me because they are so gummy and gross you don't want to use them again. So I refused to give up on this brush. Stubbornly. Against my better judgement.

I soaked it in various solvents I had around my house (Murphy's Oil Soap, Goo Gone) and nothing worked. I still couldn't throw the little guy out. He had served me well. He was a nice, straight edged shader. I sort of loved him.

But when I reached for the millionth glove during turkey prep and saw the warning, I thought of my sad, gummy brush, and I SQUIRRELED off my turkey task to grab the brush, a tsp of Vaseline and a red solo cup. Side note - this is why dinner is never ready at a time that is acceptable to less artistic types. You've been warned.

I made sure the brush was totally coated in Vaseline and put the cup in my closet and forgot about it. Until today.

It's alivvvveeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!!

OMG ALL the gum is gone and it's like a brand new brush!!!!

THIS is practical chemistry, my people.

THIS is interesting.

THIS is the opposite of charts and books and long speeches with molarity, molality, Avogadro's number and other natterings.

THIS is something that makes sense to me.

Give me more of this.

PS - you need to wash it in Dawn (Vaseline's mortal enemy, so technically the friend of latex, right? Or am I confusing Shakespeare and some chemist?  ) after this to restore its fluff.

PPS - if you have a latex allergy and can't use Tombow Mono Multi (it does contain latex), then try the new Fine-Tip Glue Pen, which is latex-free.

That's my revelation for the week.

And entirely unrelated to that, a frosted watercolor card for you today.

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I colored this card on Periscope if you want to watch how it comes together - and the first scope got interrupted by a phone call, so it's broken into two parts.

Here's Part I.

Here's Part II.

Hope you had a good Thanksgiving!

I'm off to learn more practical chemistry so that I can have a storage unit filled with cash.

I am the Danger. At least as far as masking fluid is concerned.



  1. I am laughing OUT LOUD...um...at work! :D :D

    I wish I could write like you! And while I was reading I was thinking "Lydia means the 'fur' of her brush" (from your Periscope).

    You're brilliant; card is gorgeous too!

  2. You're a fricking genius!!!!

  3. I AM SAVED! I'll clean my brushes on the morrow.

    By the way, I LOVED Chemistry -- took a second year of it in HS. Also Physics (but just one year - it was difficult enough that they only offered one year of it). We had great fun in the Chem labs. Fires, burning sulphur, playing with our resulting products (we made rubber and had to bounce it), giving the teacher heart attacks ("stop playing with your lab results!"). Oh, and the next day, we bounced the rubber and it shattered. The teacher just put his head down, and he might have cried.

  4. I can totally relate to your school chemistry experiences and then Walter White. Bwaahaahaa. Now your discovery regarding masking fluid and vaseline - brilliant! And I love that card. Baked Brown Sugar card stock was a favorite of mine, but never thought of painting with the white craft ink. Too late now, my stash is gone, but I'll try a similar color. Thanks for the smiles!

  5. Brilliant...to hell with chemistry...just cleaning your brush is fabulous. Personally, don't like to talk on the phone, either (old telephone company employee, very old). Love this gorgeous card, it's amazing.

  6. I laughed out loud at this story! Thanks for the chuckles today! The only thing worse than chemistry is physics and I do mean much worse! Love the watercoloring with white. I've never seen this done before and thanks for the tip on the Vaseline. I too, wish now that I had absorbed a bit more in the chemistry class!

  7. Very pretty card with the white on kraft flowers! Thanks for the chemistry lesson. :) I didn't mind my chemistry class but I don't remember much about it now so thanks for teaching me something useful! :)

  8. Mono-multi has LATEX in it?! Is that why I can NEVER get it off my skin?? I hate it so much. I hate Mono-Multi almost as much as I LOVE LOVE LOVE the fine-tip glue pen!!!!


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