Wednesday, October 31, 2012

In the Artroom: Happy Halloween from Madeline!

Because I dress pretty outrageous most days, the kids seemed to be more surprised by my hair than anything else. I think I heard an equal amount of "Did you cut your hair?!" and "Hey, it's a giant Madeline!" hat and Madeline book: thrifted; dress: DearCreatures; tights and skirt: Target; shoes: Clarks; big red bow: added by me
 Bonjour, Trick or Treaters! Despite the fact that we have a no-costume rule at school, I decided to dress as Madeline today. It's educational, fun and gave me an excuse to pick up this super sweet dress. Which I wore as a tunic because, well, I didn't want to turn my lesson into the Madeline Peep-Show, if you know what I mean.

“In an old house in Paris that was covered with vines
Lived twelve little girls in two straight lines
In two straight lines they broke their bread
And brushed their teeth and went to bed.
They left the house at half past nine
In two straight lines in rain or shine-
The smallest one was Madeline.”

 I had so much fun reading Madeline to the kids especially since we are still on our Parisian kick. I used this amazing bulletin board created by one of my practicum students. Under each leaf, there were facts all about the Eiffel Tower that the kids enjoyed learning about. I added my own fun facts. For example, we learned that the Tower is 59 giraffes tall and as heavy as 1,341 elephants. That's one big Iron Lady.
 I adore the illustrations in this book. They are the perfect mix of messy and retro. I did some research on the author behind the Madeline books that I thought I'd share with you.
Above is the author, his daughter Barbara (said to be who Madeline is modeled after) and his wife Madeline or Mimi. Born in Austria in 1898, Ludwig (best name ever) Bemelmans spent the early years of his life in the hotel business. He became a US citizen sometime in his thirties. Ludwig always had a passion for art but not so much for writing. It was at the suggestion of a friend that he write a children's book. His first was written in 1934.
Love this image of Notre Dame. Another one my practicum kids created a bulletin board featuring it and we used it today as well.
Poor little Madeline's appendix burst! But she ends up with that super sweet scar to show for it.
 The author wrote seven Madeline books (the last one was not discovered until after his death) and other children and adult books. Although Ludwig became famous for his Madeline books, he always considered himself more an artist than a writer. In fact, he has works of art on display in the Metropolitan Museum in New York and the MuseĆ© National d'Art of Paris.
 I still love Madeline the best. Especially if it means a big read bow and a sweet sailor dress. Merci, Madeline! Au revoir and Happy Halloween!



Monday, October 29, 2012

What I Wore #40 / California Adventure

First Day of Vacay: We arrived in Los Angeles on the Tuesday of my fall break and went immediately to Disneyland. They were celebrating their Not-So-Scary event with the perfect backdrop for my dress. dress: El Dia de los Muertos Dress, sewn by me, more details here; fishnets and tights: Target; Frye boots: hubs picked 'em up a couple years ago for sale at Journeys for...wait for it...$39!
 Okay, so I'm just gonna let you know up front that this here post is muy photo and vacation chat heavy. We are just back from an awesome adventure in Los Angeles and there wasn't a single photo that I felt I could leave out. I was a complete vintage-shop-aholic during the day and theme-park-enthusiast at night. I'd love to hear if you've visited these spots...or if you have any recommendations for a future adventure. Thanks for dropping by!
Sleeping Beauty Castle. Not to be confused with Cinderella's much bigger and more impressive (sorry Sleeping Beauty, truth hurts) castle in Walt Disney World, Orlando. Although this castle does not resemble the castle in the film Sleeping Beauty, that's the name Walt gave it as he was building Disneyland. The film Sleeping Beauty was to debut a few years after Disneyland opened. Fun Fact: Snow White doesn't have a castle. That's what happens when you take up with that many little men.
Mickey's Soundsational Parade features some of the most popular music from Disney movies and some of the biggest Disney characters like Ariel, Peter Pan, Mary Poppins and Aladdin. This particular dancer with the Best Dress Ever (note to self: create a Pinata Dress stat!) from something called The Three Caballeros. Never heard of 'em but me gusta los frocks, chicas!
More notes to self: make one giant twirly skirt, double stat.
Nine  floats travel down Main Street, each telling their own musical story. It's pretty amazing...I just couldn't get enough of those costumes.
 By the end of the night, I was freezing my tail off. The thing about Cali is that it's a desert. So you might enjoy 80's-90's during the day but as soon as that sun drops, it' takes the temp with it. Most evenings were a chilly 60 degrees. jacket: Modcloth
Shopping in Orange, CA: One of the best little downtown shopping spots is in Orange. We've visited the Orange Candy Co. each time we come to pick up a bag full of Zots. dress and belt: Anthropologie; sweater: thrifted, Banana Republic
Orange has a lovely little town square full of countless antique and gift shops. I always poke around in this shop for DIY ideas. You can find more info on Orange and their shops here.

 Bruxie, home of the Gourmet Waffle Sandwich, is the best place to grab a bite. And the town has a great assortment of vintage shops and vintage clothing tucked in their antique stores. Lost and Found (also called Elsewhere Vintage) had some gems as did Orange Circle Antique Mall (photo on right from a booth in the mall).
Burbank, I love you: So many vintage-themed and vintage clothing shops all on one street. jacket: Modcloth; unicorn dress: Angie; fishnets: Target
Okay, I almost fell out when I spotted this shop. This is the only storefront that the formerly online-only clothing brand Pinup Girl has. It was such a thrill to try on their vintage reproduction duds...and walk out with just the cutest circle skirt ever. Picked up on sale, of course. The young woman working at the shop was just the perfect amount of pinup (with her skin-tight high waisted capris, sunny yellow bustier and rolled hair) and 1950's sweet. Not only was the clothing amazing but they also offer hair and make up classes. Gah! Must attempt that on another trip.
I  have to tell you that some of the nicest people work in these retail shops. The kind girl at Pinup told me to stop by Audrey*K because she has a similar aesthetic. I was so thrilled that I did. Audrey is the owner of the shop and just an absolutely delightful person. She is the designer behind most of the clothing in her store. Most of her dresses are vintage inspired but created with modern fabrics. Which means you can breathe and bend and not worry about hearing that horrifying riiiip of a vintage seam. What Audrey doesn't create herself, she buys from local designers.



More vintage goodness in Burbank: 33 Rooms and Swift Vintage. More super helpful store clerks and more damage to my wallet.




 Playclothes will blow your mind. The amount of vintage packed into that shop was so good it felt bad. They organize their clothing by era and had plenty of 1950's garb to get this girl's heart goin'. This place is a must if you are in Burbank.
Dreamworks Lunch: So one of my favorite artsy buddies from waaay back is married to a Dreamworks dude. He was kind enough to get us passes into Dreamworks for lunch...and it really was like a dream. The place looks like a beautiful Spanish style college campus complete with the best cafeteria ever (you had me at Starbucks on tap). It was such a thrill to see where the creative minds behind Dreamworks create. dress: made by me, more here.
California Adventure's latest attraction is Cars Land. The attention to detail was almost as amazing as the Cars Land ride.
I'm sure I would have appreciated it more had I seen the movie. My favorite part was the vintage feel to the sets. Loved all of those giant retro signs.
Not trip to California Adventure is complete without a stroll around Paradise Pier.
The real reason we ventured to California? Universal Studio's Halloween Horror Nights. I know what you are thinking: didn't they just go to Halloween Horror Nights in Orlando? Yes. We did. And wasn't that right after they went to Howl-O-Scream in Williamsburg? Yes. It was. We can't help it. In October, this is what we do. Go to haunted houses, get scared, scream ourselves silly. The Walking Dead themed house was hands-down the best at HHN.
Until next time, goodbye, Hollywood!















Sunday, October 28, 2012

DIY: Flattened Fall Leaf Fantasmic

You can find two other leaf-craft posts on this here blog. There's Leafy Prints post and the Leaf Relief project. Since you've got those leaves collected, why not try these other two crafts?
Happy fall, ya'll! 

It's autumn here in Tennessee complete with brilliantly colored leaves, chilly mornings  and a constant craving for hot apple cider. Every year I forget just how beautiful and brilliant fall leaves are. And every year I collect dozens of them to be pressed and used for craftasticness.  I thought I'd share with you one of my favorite fall projects which I've been calling Flattened Fall Leaf Fantasmic (guess who was just at Disney).

My arrangement of leafy-ness hangs above my rarely-used because it's often too-stacked-with-stuff desk.
 Dude, if you are looking for a simple fall craft, this is the one for you. You'll just need the following:

  • Leaf Press....you can find these for about $10 at any craft store. Or you can just use a telephone book and some heavy weighted books to stack on top.
  • Leaves...if you pick them up off the ground, be sure they aren't so dry that they crack and break when you bend them gently. These should be freshly fallen leaves.
  • Canvas
  • Modge-Podge
  • Paint
If you are handy, a leaf press like this one would be simple to make. You'll need to change out the cardboard every now and then as it will wilt from the dampness of the leaves. I just cut cardboard scraps from the recycle bin to fit my press.
  1.  After you've collected your leaves, press them immediately. If you use a press, you'll need to tighten the screws every day to help flatten the leaves. A telephone book also works great and can old more leaves. Simply stack more books on it daily.
  2. After a week or more, the leaves should be ready. They should no longer be damp and they should have held their flattened shape and kept their color.
  3. While waiting for my leaves, I began to work on a background for my canvas.
You can see by the year that this one was created several years ago. I was very surprised that the leaf kept it's brilliant color after all this time.
 4.   I wanted my canvas to have an antiqued look, so I used a coffee dye. I really had fun playing around with some different textures. Sometimes I let the coffee drip down the canvas. Other times I pressed the damp surface of the canvas with a paper towel. I also used a doily as a stencil as seen on the canvas above.
 5.   Once the canvas was dry and the leaves were flattened, I began to play around with the composition. I used Modge Podge to adhere the leaves to the canvas both under the leaf and on top.
This is the canvas I used the paper towel on. I loved the delicate pattern it left behind when I lifted the towel.
 6.   From there I began lightly drawing in my design in pencil. I used black ink to paint my design as it seemed to flow better on the canvas and give me a hard edge. I wanted the painting above to look like a cameo necklace.
I love all of the different colors in each and every leaf.

For this one, I used a doily in the back ground and many leaves from the same tree. To connect them, I painted a tree branch.
Once complete, I covered each canvas with a thin layer of Modge Podge. I wrapped the edges in black ribbon and hung them up as a grouping together. So easy! 

If you happen to give this craft, or any of the other leaf projects a shot, please let me know! I've gotten several emails from folks that have tried out both the Leaf Relief and the Leaf Prints projects with success. I'd love to know what you think of this latest leaf-y project.

Happy Fall!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

DIY: Bewitch Yourself

Remember the TBA dress I mentioned in the last post? Well, here it is: The Bewitched Dress. Which doesn't really have any connection to the old television show except that when I donned the little pointy hat, the batwing'ed shades and the witchy shoes, I suddenly felt very Samantha Stevens. And who doesn't wanna feel as though they could cast a coupla spells with the twitch of a nose?
I actually have a little Samantha Stevens story (btw, if you know me for like 5 minutes, you'll find I have a "story" for just about any occasion). This story begins way back when I was in 8th grade and an absolute Trifecta of Fugly: glasses the size of dinner plates, braces complete with headgear and a gangly 98 pounds. Smokin' Hot. 

Needless to say, the boys were not exactly fallin' at my feet, let alone talkin' to me. And when they did, I was just plain clueless. Case in point: my response to a transaction with a Junior With a Mustache: 

Junior with a Mustache: Hey, what's your name? 
8th Grade Me: Cassie Stephens.
JWM: Oh, like Samantha Stevens! 
8GM: [dopey confused look]
JWM: You know, from that old show Bewitched! Are you related?
8GM: [lacking any sense of humor] What? No. That's a TV show.
JWM: I bet you are related. I bet you can twitch your nose and make stuff happen.
8GM: What would I make happen? 
JWM: [shrugs and turns to talk to his other mustache'd friends]
Present Me: [face palm]
So I might not wear the headgear (still have it though, thanks Hoarder Mom!), the big ole glasses or have that stick-thin frame but I'm still a complete and total geek. Which is what drew me to this total geek-tastic owl fabric. The design was originally created by one of my favorite fabric designers Tammis Keefe. I've actually used her fabric designs in two other versions of this dress. Her designs have most recently been reproduced by fabric designer Michael Miller. I paired the owls with black linen for the midriff and vintage fabric from my stash.
Oh, Elizabeth Montgomery. How beautiful are you? I need that big tousled hair and those cat eyelashes pronto. Do some nose twitchin' and make that happen for me, won't ya?
Now this dress doesn't have the sleeve issue that my el Dia de los Muertos dress had...but I still managed to procrastinate long enough to add some bewitching decorations to the house. Like this giant web I thrifted with some phoney-baloney leaves and a die cut spider.


Okay, that whole nose twitching thing? Check out the difference between Elizabeth Montgomery's (aka Samatha Stevens) nose twitch and mine. Let's see if you can tell the difference...
Do you see the diff? She's actually not wiggling her nose but moving her mouth from side to side. Which is much cuter than my face. I look like I'm trying to silently squeak out a noisy fart. Again, Smokin' Hot.
You try it. Just wiggle your mouth from side to side. It gives the illusion you are wiggling your nose. Without that Squeaky Fart Face look.
Well, once I had my nose wiggly down pat, I was magically able to decorate my mantle. I sewed the garland using some images I had die cut at school. And I added hubs' deer antlers and turtle shells that he'd found on his walks in the woods.



Have you ever sewn paper on your sewing machine before? So super easy. For these, I just ran one of the die cuts through my sewing machine, let the machine continue to run while I gently pulled on the die cut piece and then inserted another piece. I did this for my mantle way back in February too.
So, to bring this whole post full circle, I'm gonna give Junior with a Mustache an answer to his thought about "making stuff happen." 

What would I make happen? 
Well, this October, I think I would just Bewitch Myself. And my house. Now, if you'll excuse me, I've got headgear to go put in. 

P.S. Outfit details:   witchy shoe covers and mini doll hat: JoAnn's; Best Sunglasses Ever!: one of my super thoughtful students. You know who you are, thanks Little Buddy!