Thursday, November 20, 2014

In the Art Room: Our Gallery of Gratitude

 Do you ever get those ideas that come outta no where (usually while you are in the middle of doing something totally unrelated like cleaning the cat's liter box or brushing your teeth. Not at the same time, of course, as that'd be all kinds of nasty). You know, a thought that's like a big ole slap in the face and think to yourself: OMG, that's, like, a decent idea! I might actually be able to do this!

Well, that's pretty much how the idea of creating a Gallery of Gratitude came to me. This past weekend. Which means we busted out this bad boy in a week. Also which is totes a record for me as I currently hold the title of Slowest Art Teacher in the Universe. Not that I'm braggin' or anything, just statin' the facts, ma'am. And mans. 
 Since we are currently doing a Be Nice campaign at our school (we started last week by writing kind notes about each other's artwork. You can read more about that here.), I've decided to have the kids "give nice a try" with a new task each week. This week, I thought it would be great for the kids to show gratitude (which was also our word of the week, see how I did that?) to the folks that help them each and every day. I decided that my third and fourth grade students would draw portraits and write messages of gratitude (as they have an hour and could bust them out); my second grade would also write messages and decorate the frames (they've only got 30 minutes of art time); first grade would create oil pastel hearts and send their heart out to someone special; and kindergarten would create a handprint to give someone in the school a high five. 

With all that in my shockingly small brain, I went to the bookkeeper (one of my fave people, hi, Julie!) Monday morning and asked for a list of everyone that works in the school. I was thinking, eh, this should be easy for the kids. I mean, there's prolly only 45 folks that work in the building. WRONG, y'all! There are 71 super awesome people that teach, administer, parol, clean, cook, nurse and help my students. I realized then that this was gonna be a bigger undertaking then I'd imagined. 
 But the kids jumped right in. For my older students, we talked about gratitude and all the folks that help us at school. Then we chatted about how to draw a portrait. Each student was given a 4" X 6 1/2" piece of paper, a Sharpie and allowed to chose the name of the person they'd like to draw.
 At their tables, I had placed copies of last year's yearbooks (this was a big help, y'all) and a head tracing template. I decided to offer the template to the kids (it was optional) so that they'd feel confident with the head shape and be ready to jump right in to drawing.
 Once the pencil drawing was complete, the kids traced their lines with a thin Sharpie and added color with colored pencils. For most, this took an hour. For some, they had time to also write their message of gratitude.
 Many message of gratitude and picture frames were created by my second grade students. They had only one session of art this week due to our art museum field trip. Again, these kids were allowed to pick a name for whom they'd like to write. 
 While I was gone on my field trip to the local art museum with my second grade students, one of the assistant teachers at my school was my sub. I left her directions on having the first grade classes create these radiating hearts. 
The following art class, I had glued their hearts to a frame and had them write who their heart would go out to. This was great as it only took them 5 minutes and then we could return to our regularly scheduled art-making program.
 On Monday, I had a couple of my kindergarten classes. As they wrapped up their landscape paintings, they came to me for a hand print. As I printed their hand, we chatted about gratitude and I asked just who they'd like to give a high five to. After printing their hands, I jotted down on their paper "High five to Officer Graham for keeping our school safe". Those kindergarteners really had some sweet high fives to give.
 I'm happy to say that we were able to get the gallery (almost) complete and hung today! There are just a couple more messages of gratitude to be written but as it stands, everyone has a portrait on the Gallery of Gratitude wall. Or, walls, I should say. There's actually another wall across from the one above that is full of portraits, high fives and hearts. 
 I knew the kids would be excited to see their drawings and share their notes. What I wasn't expecting was the overwhelming response from those that I work with. Each was thrilled to see their portrait and read the children's comments. Several snapped photos of their portraits on their phones and have requested to take their portrait home. I do believe the kids accomplished our goal of showing gratitude to everyone on our school. Just in time for Thanks-Giving!

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Monday, November 17, 2014

DIY: A Crayola Sweater and a Giveaway!

Because I'm nothing short of an epic genius, I've come up with a desirable scent that will most assuredly be all the rage once it hits department store counters. I've decided to call it Eau de Art Class (which, upon googling, I've found means "water of art class". Like, ew.) or perhaps Parfume de Back-to-School. Regardless, it's gonna be a Big Fat Hairy hit and I'm bound to become so rich my bling's bling will have bling. 

So just what is this Super Smelly Special Sauce I speak of?
Das right, y'all. Scent de Crayola. Just dab a lil behind your ears and let the good times roll. I hear this is how baby crayons are made. 
Oh, snap! Blue Crayon Babe, you's busted!
In other non-related/I'm-a-secret-super-genius news, I made a new sweater! As if you hadn't figured that out already. Sorry to underestimate your intelligence. We geniuses (genii?) do that a lot. 
Now I totes can't take credit for the idea behind this here felted sweater creation o' mine. In fact, I dunno if you know this about me but I rarely have an original thought. I blame Pinterest and too many years of drowning my sorrows in liters of Diet Coke (y'all. The hubs and I just watched a documentary on manufactured foods. I beg of you, step away from the aspartame!). I have this habit of googling such silliness as "art teacher clothes" and "palette dress" or "crayon sweater" into the wee hours of the night. One eve, this divine-ness popped up on my screen (it's still available, yous guyzzz). And I was all, "OMG, I have to have this!" which was promptly contradicted by "OMG, I have to make this!" 
And so I did. 

But, how?, you wanna know. 'Twas cake, I tell ya. Needle Felted Crayola-Goodness Cake. Lemme show ya.

I started by hitting the thrift store with the sole intent of just buying The Perfect canvas (aka a cream colored sweater) for my masterpiece. Which I totally found. Along with this here gem which I HAD to HAVE. Like, duh. 
I mean, a hat with glasses?! Are you kitten me? (ya see what I did there? Made a cat joke cuz I'm wearing a cat sweater, in case you didn't notice. Aw, don't be all peanut butter and jealous of my super rad sense of humor, y'all. No need to get catty. Ahem.)
So when I got home, my first order of biznatch was to sketch up my design. Which I promptly did and then pinned to my sweater. Now, y'all now I loves me some needle felting. Like, lurves. I mean, just check out Exhibit A, B, C, D, E, and, well, you get the idea. What first got me hooked was watching a youtube vid clip where some British lady spoke these magical words: You can needle felting on ANYTHING. 

That's right, kids. Any surface. Anytime. Anywheres. So, what's stopping you? 
I decided to approach this sweater the same way I had my Crazy Cat Lady number: outline with 100% wool yarn (it's gotta be wool, y'all. And it's gotta be 100%) and fill in the rest with wool roving. I happen to have been gifted a giant sack of wool yarn as it was abandoned in my art room one afternoon (do the rest of y'all art teachers receive art supply abandons? I gotta know, what's been your fave? Mine was this here wool. And your least fave? Um, that'd have to be the three garbage bags of toilet paper rolls. Gee, thanks but, um, no thanks.) 

'Kay, so I know I'm doing a lousy job of 'splaining how I felted this here number. So sorry. My bad. But if you follow this link, you'll find all the answers to life and needle felting. Yes, suriously. 
After needle felting in my outline, I was set to start using the wool roving to fill in the blanks. Or color in the lines. Whateves. 
And, BOOM, after power-watching two episodes of Project Runway, I had my box o' crayons complete. 
And then came the crayons. For that I used my wool yarn again and this here crayon template. I just needle-felted/outlined my crayon... dis...
And then filled it in with two different values of roving per crayon (you see what I did there? I just threw in one of the Elements of Art. Because an Art-Teacherin' job is NEVER done, y'all.)
SPEAKING of ART TEACHERIN'...have I got a Crayola-tastic Giveaway for you, y'all! 

Whilst needle felting away, I got the idea to contact my buddy Barb Reinke who works for Crayola. She was kind enough to send some goodness my way to share with y'all in the form of this here giveaway! Cuz, really, who doesn't love Crayola?!
So just how do you enter to win? Well, lemme tell ya in the form of bullet points as they make me feel all organized and intelligent:

  • Leave a comment in the comments (der) describing your FAVE CRAYOLA PRODUCT. Not cuz Crayola wants to know but I do. My fave are their Watercolor Paints called Mixing Colors. They're my jam.
  • I'll enter your name into the drawing once. But if you want your name in the drawing twice, well, then you gots to follow me here. C'mon, let's be twits together!
  • Winner will be announced Tuesday, November 25th. International friends, you may apply. Non-art teacher buddies, you know I loves you, apply as well. This here give away is for all y'all.

Lookin' forward to hearing from y'all and let the giveawayin' begin!
(P.S. in the meantime, do an google image search of "crayon poop". You won't regret it.)

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Sunday, November 16, 2014

What the Art Teacher Wore #122 and Aw, Alpacas!

Abstract Monday: I'm taking my second graders to The Frist Center next Tuesday to see the Kandinsky exhibit. I wore this here number to chat with the kids about our trip and all that we'd see. Fingers crossed it all goes smoothly and that I don't experience my usual night-before-the-field-trip-nightmares. Anyone else have those?! Kandinsky dress: made by me, DIY heresweater and shoes: thrifted; tights: Target; hair clip: made by me; belt: Pin Up Girl Clothing

Whut's happenin, kids?! Just trying to stay warm and muscle my way through this last week before Thanksgiving Break. We are fortunate in my school district to get the ENTIRE week off for the holiday (don't hate. I DID got back to school at the end of July, remember?) so I've just got five days of schoolin' until 5 days of relaxin. Not that I'm counting down the hours/minutes/seconds or anything. Ahem.

This past week was kinda a wacky one. I had some sort of craziness every evening after school which was fun but wiped me out. So much so that I fell into a 2 hour coma sometime after lunch yesterday. I'm looking forward to a less-thrill/more-chill week before el break-o.

In other news, I had the opportunity to visit an alpaca farm Friday afternoon! I met the owner of the farm at a craft fair and made mention that I'd love to purchase some alpaca roving. Before I knew it, Suzie Conn, the owner of Willow Creek Alpacas, was inviting me out to her place to "meet the animals!". She was kind enough to allow me to snap a million photos and make short videos. I can't wait to share them with the kids before we begin our needle felting unit! In the meantime, I thought you might be interested in meeting these sweet creatures as well.

OH! And before I forget: I'll be holding a GIVEAWAY this week! So be sure to come back on Tuesday for more details, kids. Until then, have a great week!
 Willow Creek Farm is located in College Grove, Tennessee. The owners Suzie and Gary have 14 alpacas and have been raising them for the last 8 years. When I asked Suzie how they got their start, she said she saw an alpaca at a fair and decided she wanted one. After doing her homework, she bought her first one (for $15,000! But that was then. Now they go for about $2000). She now raises them and knits beautiful scarves and hats with their wool. 
The alpacas are very curious creatures. They immediately walked up to me however it was mostly cuz they thought I might have food. They are very skiddish so quick movements kinda freak them out. They're also not fans of being touched which is a total bummer. I was able to touch the wool on the back of one and, y'all. That is some seriously thick fur! I don't think I've ever felt fur that soft, warm and dense.
Tuesday: This was the last day of my after school clay class. I can't wait to show you some of the kids wild and wacky creations. This week, I'll show you how we created ceramic turkeys (or peacocks in some cases) with the help of a fall leaf. Each creation is just as creative and hilarious as the wee artist. dress: vintage, Buffalo Exchange; bow belt: Pin Up Girl Clothing; tights: Target; shoes: Dolls by Nina; necklace: Franklin Farmers Market
Ridiculous amount of cuteness, amirite?!

Windy Wednesday: Y'all, it's, like, winter here or something. And it's really crampin' my style. I just stay in a constant state of three-layers-of-tights/stacked-scarf coldness. I've been outta Indiana too long for this kinda cold, y'all. Where's my 60 degree November weather at, yo?! jacket: For-never21; Monet-wannabe dress: vintage, thrifted; belt: Anthro; boots: old, Seychelles
Y'all. I must apologize. I'm currently ADDICTED to creating memes. This here would be Exhibit A., B. and C.

 OMG, that face, I'm dying. The alpaca don't have top teeth in the front, just bottom. Their upper lip can separate and pick up even the smallest bits of food like tweezers. 
 Thursday-ness: I have to help out with math in fourth grade every so often. Which is RIDICULOUS as I'm THE WORST at math. I did have a funny convo with one student. He got the answer "52" and he said, "that's the age of my dad." To which I replied, "Huh, my mom is 58." And he was all, "whuh?! That means they are only 5 years apart. And I'm only 10! And you are, well, kinda old." After I forgave that "old" business, he asked how old my mom was when I was born. When I told him 17, he replied knowingly, "Ah, a teenage pregnancy. It happens." Bwahaha! dress: Modcloth; pencil sweater: DIY here

Alpaca Farm Friday!: Don't you worry, I didn't wear THIS to the farm although I couldn't resist wearing this skirt to school on Friday. I mean, hello, it has alpacas on it! (okay, so they might be llamas but whateves). I did change into some lovely long johns, leg warmers and a down jacket for the trip to the farm. It was a might bit chilly but so worth the cold to see these sweet guys and gals. sweater: Anthro, thrifted; belt, shirt and skirt: Anthro, not thrifted, unfortunately
This little baby alpaca (only one year old!) was easily my favorite. Thanks for dropping by, guys! 

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