Tuesday, November 27, 2012

In the Art Room: Hot Air Balloons Over Paris

After weeks of working on this collage landscape, this little first grade dude is ready to take his hot air balloon for a ride. Over Paris, France, no less.
Hey there, artsy folk! Look who's launched their hot air balloons -- my fantastic first grade artists! This project has been so much fun but the icing on the cake were the giggles and squeals of laughter the kids let out when they finally saw their little likeness in the balloon. It was a lengthy project (as all of mine are, sigh) but well worth the wait. 
A hallway of hot air.
We began this project right after our world-mural self-portrait and our passport/suitcase project. I like to use this landscape collage as an introduction at the beginning of the year because so much can be packed into this lesson (painting, color mixing, texture, collage, landscape, etc). I used a similar collage landscape lesson with my second grade students for the Parisian Landscape Collage. And I also used this project last year for an Egyptian Landscape. It's one of those tried and true projects that I absolutely love.
I love how this artist positioned his Eiffel Tower in such a way that he seems to be gazing at it.
Now, I've got my students for half an hour. By the time I'm done jibber-jabbering and they are settled down to work, they have around 15 minutes of work time. That's with 5 minutes at the end for clean up and The Smartest Artist if we are really lucky. So my lessons are in baby bites. Here's how I broke down the creating part of the lesson. After looking at many a sunset and other artists works, here's what we did:

  • Day 1: Using a large vertical paper folded in half, students learn how to paint a tint of yellow (that's light yellow created with white and yellow) and a tint of orange (learning to mix the orange themselves.)
  • Day 2: Create a tint of magenta and mix purple.
  • Day 3: We chatted about clouds. If they are near the horizon, they are oh-so-small. Closer to the top of the paper, they increase in size. Many clouds have a flat bottom (which always gets a giggle) and a fluffy top. Texture is our word of the day.
  • Day 4: Using a separate piece of paper that is about a third the size of our large sheet, we create a green tint and give it a texture.
  • Day 5: Same as above, this time with blue paint.
  • Day 6: Collage Time! We looked at a map of Paris and found that there is the River Seine runs right through it. So we glued our blue textured paper to the bottom. Then we tore our green papers in half. The kids then separated the green papers depending on how wide they wanted their rivers to be. Once decided, they glued the land down.
Once that was complete, we put our landscapes away for a bit to learn about hot air balloons. This book was a wonderful resource as it names and explains each part of the balloon.
When placing our hot air balloons on our paper, we chatted about drifting outside of the rectangle format of our paper. This little one looks like she's floating away.
After reading about the balloons, we created out own:
  • Day 7: Using either warm or cold color pieces of tissue paper, the kids used watered down Modge-Podge to cover a piece of paper that they had drawn a balloon shape on.
  • Day 8: They cut out their balloons and used a sharpie to add lines that would help their balloon look more three-dimensional. 
  • Day 9: Photography Day! While the kids painted their hot air balloon baskets (which were toilet paper tubes cut in half) with vertical and horizontal lines, I took their photos. They stood in front of a large piece of blue butcher paper and put their hands over the back of a chair that had brown paper on it. I snapped two shots, one of the looking up and the other, looking down. We chatted about what they might see and that helped them become animated for their photos.
Sometimes we have early finishers. They usually meet on the floor to "play teacher" (where one student sits in my chair and quizzes the other students on a basket of three-dimensional shapes I have) or we read a book. This book was perfect. We found out that the first hot air balloon was launched in France! And that the first passengers were a rooster, a lamb and a duck.
  • Day 10: We glued down our hot air balloon, our basket and carefully cut out our photo.
  • Day 11: We chatted some more about the Eiffel Tower and it's history. We learned out to cut out a symmetrical tower and decorate it using the same lines that Gustave Eiffel used in his tower. I was determined that this would be our last day, so I may or may not have been late getting the kids to get those towers decorated and glued down.
Don't you just LOVE this?! I know I do! It was created by one of my practicum students to help support my lesson. The kids adore it, especially the fact that Jes made an appearance.
Now, while I do love these, I am secretly dying for the kids to continue to add to the landscape. But did you see how many DAYS this took? Like, a million! So, I thought I'd ask your opinion (I have in the past and you guys always come through for me, thanks!)...what do you think? Collage some more or leave it be?

Regardless, I know that these artists couldn't be more pleased with their masterpieces. Thanks for reading!




Sunday, November 25, 2012

What I Wore this Week #44

What I Wore on Wednesday: Don't ask me what happened to Monday and Tuesday. I'm on vacation. Which usually means pj's and unwashed hair for as many days as I can manage. In this case, it was only two. Mom came to visit on Wednesday, so I had to look semi-presentable. sweater: thrifted with vintage buttons added my me; skirt: vintage, thrifted; fishnets over tights (which I do believe I did every day this week): Target; boots: my good ole Seychelles; scarf: Germany
 Well, my Thanksgiving Break is now hours away from coming to an end. The reality of that has definitely not set in. I'm still knee deep in unfinished sewing/crafting/and Christmas decorating projects and I just can't bear the thought of leaving them untouched tomorrow. The silver lining is that I'm very excited about our upcoming unit on Germany. I've got my cuckoo clock dress and the coordinating lesson complete. But that's just for my second grade lesson. I've decided that my first and third grade are going to complete a gnome-themed project. Having done some research on gnomes, I thought I'd share it with you this week. They are quite the character.
Garden Gnome Liberation Front: Did you know there was such a thing? Apparently it's a group of (crazy) people in Europe whose mission is to rescue gnomes from their lives in boring middle-class gardens and return them to their original homes in the mountains. In this article, you can read how one group of guys can be hired to fight against The Front (as they're called) by dressing up as Snow White's Seven Dwarves to divert attention away from the gnomes and...I'm not sure what their services offer after that. They can also be hired for birthday parties. Something to keep in mind.
Thanksgiving!: Mom, hubs and I loaded up the cars and headed south to Birmingham, Alabama to visit the hub's parents and family. It was a deliciously lovely day that ended with a long walk down the railroad tracks collecting pine cones and railroad ties. dress: Anthro, picked up at Buffalo Exchange; blouse and belt: gifts from friends; boots: Frye, picked up for cheap at French's Boots in Franklin, Tn
So apparently, there is no definitive history of the gnome. It seems many cultures have their own version of a mystical dwarf, some dating as far back as the ancient civilizations of Egypt and Greece. Fairy tales and folklore from medieval times are full of stories of goblins, trolls, leprechauns, elves, and fairies. This illustration is from Gnomes by Wil Huygen, illustrated by Rien Poortvliet.
Black Friday Shopping: We are rather lazy Black Friday shoppers as we didn't leave the house til 8am. By the time we hit the stores, shelves were pretty empty and the Crazy Shopping Zombies were gone. I could tell my mom was pretty bummed. She's a serious people watcher that was dying to go out at midnight. But I just don't have the stomach to watch humanity behave humiliatingly. sweater and tights: picked up just recently at Target; dress and belt: vintage, from a play I performed in during high school; boots: I only brought one pair on this trip -- Frye.
Story goes that the first gnome statue was introduced to a garden by an Englishman named Sir Charles Isham of Lamport Hall. After having built a huge rockery (er, that's a rock garden of sorts) and filling it with dwarf conifers, our friend of Lamport Hall just didn't feel his garden was complete. It was missing that certain gnome-y something. Sir Charles Isham picked his up in Germany where the figures were mostly kept in drawing rooms. When one gnome just wasn't enough, whole communities of gnomes were added to his garden. Image from pinterest.
Mom Love: After a slightly fruitless day of Black Friday shopping, my mom made the long drive back to Indiana. I'm guessing it took her around nine hours. Ouch. My butt goes numb after two. I'm so glad she made the trip.
The Gnome
by Margaret Morgan

Deep down he goes, the little gnome,
Deep down into his earthy home.
Deep Down among the roots he lives;
Such help to all the plants he gives.

He helps the seed to split its skin;
He helps the roots to settle in;
He helps the shoots to stand upright
And grow to reach the warm sunlight.

Sometimes he comes above the ground;
Sometimes his footprints can be found;
Sometimes, before the moon is up,
He drinks the dew from bluebell cups.



Exploring Birmingham Saturday: My mom-in-law took us on a tour of Birmingham's thrift and antique shops. We stopped by the awesome Peanut Depot for some cajun roasted nuts and some amazing baked goods at the Continental Bakery. We ended out tour with a view of the city. sweater: vintage, gift from my mom-in-law; scarf: Germany; skirt: Anthro; tights: Target
It's said that gnomes are optimists and that they breathe contentment. And I guess two gnomes are better than one. Especially when you've found your gnome-y match made in heaven. Image from the Gnome Habitat in Auburn, California.
Oh, look, it's me with my gnome-y love match. And he's almost got the gnome-beard to match. I'm working on a couple of matching conical shaped hats for us.
And I just had to include these gnome zombies by the artists Chris Stever and Jane DeRosa. You have to check out their etsy shop. I definitely would add these to my place-were-mostly-weeds-grow garden, especially at Halloween.
 Thanks for dropping by! And may the happy and optimistic spirit of the gnome be with you this week.











Tuesday, November 20, 2012

DIY: Gone Cuckoo

I know, I think it's sacrilege to decorate for Christmas before Thanksgiving as well but I was just dying to hang my new cuckoo ornaments on my tree. If it makes you feel better, I still have Halloween decorations up. From last year.
 As you might recall from my previous post, I've gone completely cuckoo. More so than usual. Remember I told you I was crafting a new dress from some super cute fabric by Kelly Lee-Creel's Storybook Lane collection? Well, here it is! And not only is it a brand new dress...it's a brand new pattern (cuz you know I usually just sew this dress...over and over and over and over). It was a pattern that truly tried my patience and made me question humanity so it's a marvelous miracle I was able to pull it off.

Now I've only sewn from two dress patterns, this one and the aforementioned. One was vintage, this one contemporary, both Simplicity. I like their patterns because the directions are clear(ish) and come with plenty of pictures (that I had a lot of fun coloring when I wasn't gouging out the eyes of the model in frustration).

My first dress with pockets!

Sometimes, whilst frustrated, I dubbed this the "Nine Levels of Hell" dress after Dante's Inferno. I ain't even gonna pretend I'm the least bit literary, I've never read the book. Or poem. Or is it a limerick? Dunno. What I do know is that at least eight of those levels of my Dress Making Hell where trapped in the land of The Sleeve.

Would you believe I had to take several photos of this sleeve because my ugly-old-lady-wrinkly-elbow kept photo bombing the picture? Hence the hand-on-elbow.
 This sleeve had many a problem. Firstly, look at that inverted "V" thingie. Cute, right? Not so much when you've had to seam rip it seven times and redo. And just look at it. It's still as wrinkly as my elbow. In the other photos, you'll see that the sleeve is tufted or puffy or pleated (can I get a correct word here, please?) on top. Boy that was fun. The first sleeve actually took me just under two hours to complete. Do you hear me? Dos horas.That translates to something like "too freakin' long!"
 You know, because inverted "V" sleeves just aren't hellacious enough, why not add one to the neckline? This one was actually not nearly as bad as the others. Prob because I'd had all those hours of practice.
Can we please pause a moment and take a look at my hair? Because it actually did what I told it to today. All thanks really to my amazing new hair dresser Jesse Linares. Not only did I get a great haircut, but, after removing my bumpit like a doctor would an alien baby (complete with appalled expression and wonderment), he gave me an amazing teasing comb. That's right, this big 'do is sans bumpit.
 As usual, when the dress making hell just became too much, I resorted to crafting. I had all of these adorable cuckoo clock scraps that I just couldn't bear to part with. So I decided to create some ornaments out of them.

 A friend of mine gave me a bunch of jewelry gift boxes in various sizes. I painted the brown boxes completely white and once try, I added lilac or light blue to the lids. Using a tiny brush, I added a pattern of lines.
 I cut out several of the clocks (using my tiny sewing scissors for the job) and Modge Podged them onto the lid. I bedazzled 'em with some gold glitter glue, drilled holes in the top for the string (and bottom of a couple for the buttons to hang from) and viola! Cuckoo Ornaments!
 After making the first batch of ornaments, I went back upstairs and tried to decide if my dress actually needed two sleeves. I mean, I could bring back the asymmetrical look, right? I decided to go back to crafting.
 These guys were created on the larger lids with random bits of wood. Did you know you can cut popsicle sticks with scissors? It's the truth, Ruth. I hot glued these together and spray painted them in my neighbor's yard. Didn't want to mess up my own grass.
A little work-in-progress photo.
After some spray painting, bedazzling and gluing, I was ready to hang these guys too. I used cinnamon sticks at the bottom of this clock.
 After all that crafting, there was nothing left to do but return to my dress. It turns out that the hard part was over as attaching the skirt, taking up the hem and inserting the zipper were all things I'd done before. And that's a good thing, because I've already cut out a couple more versions of this dress that are waiting to be sewn. These new ones, however, will be sleeveless. 

Thanks for dropping by!




Sunday, November 18, 2012

What I Wore this Week #43

Matching my Mini-Me Monday: So I have this third grade student that refers to her self as "mini-Mrs. Stephens" (poor girl) and tries her best to imitate my tacky-tasticness. The day before her art class, she informed me to wear "a vest, a tie, a puffy skirt and a big bow in your hair like Lady Gaga so we can match." We were quite the sight, if only I'd snapped a photo. dress: old, Francesca's; vest: vintage, thrifted; tights: Target; boots: Hunter, ebay 
Hey there. I come to you on my wonderfully long Thanksgiving break. That's right, I've got a week off for the occasion. About which I'd be just a bit more excited if I wasn't surrounded by bottles of Nyquil, wadded up tissues and half empty cups of tea, coffee and gluhwein. Gluh-what, you ask? That's fancy German-speak for a traditional mulled-wine which is perfect on a chilly evening when you are feeling as I do. I've been using this recipe here.

Speaking of Germany, that's the country my students are going to be studying after Thanksgiving break. AND after they finish up these French-themed projects. Which seem to be taking forever. I've got my passport station set up, photos of Jes in Germany printed and now I'm onto the research of the great country of Germany and their traditional crafts. I've decided that one grade level is going to create their own version of a cuckoo clock. Since I've been doing research on these bad boys, I thought I'd share it with you as apart of this week's art history lesson. I hope you enjoy. And to my friends in Germany, please feel free to add info I'm sure to miss. Thanks for dropping by!
Cuckoo clocks hail from the southwestern part of Germany called the Black Forest (or Schwarzwald  in German). The Romans originally gave the Black Forest it's name because of the dense growth of coniferous trees that block out the sunlight. The story goes that the first cuckoo clock was created around 1730 by a clock-maker who added a moving bird to his clock that would announce the hour with it's cuckoo call. The clock maker got his idea from a church organ. 
Feelin' Squirrely Tuesday: Just a matter of days before our Thanksgiving break and the kids and I are just trying to make it. I tried very hard to get most of our Parisian projects wrapped up so we could begin our study of Germany after break. sweater: sale! right now! Urban Outfitters; skirt: vintage, gift from a friend; tights: Target; boots: Seychelles
Okay, when I think of cuckoo clocks, this is what comes to mind. However, the first clocks actually had a flat panel of wood with a floral or fruit still-life painted on it. There was a little door for the cuckoo and, of course, the clock. These clocks were usually sold door-to-door by clock-peddlers who wore huge backpacks depicting the clocks, the dials and the movements. In the year 1850, a cuckoo clock competition was held and an architect by the name of Friedrich Eisenlohr won for his design that depicted imagery very similar to what is seen above. This style is called the Bahnhausle.
Oh, Wednesday. Always the middle child: Okay, check out this new-to-me Anthro sweater. It's inspired me to root through my rarely worn sweaters and give them a new DIY life. I just love that big ole applique flower. sweater and dress: Anthropologie, picked up for cheap at Buffalo Exchange; tights: Target; boots: Frye
I totally love this style. It's called the Swiss Chalet style cuckoo clock because it originated in Switzerland in the late 1800's. These clocks feature more than the appearance of a cuckoo bird at the beginning of each new hour. Popular animated figures include beer drinkers, wood cutters and dancing couples. Notice that the weighted pine cones are also on these clocks.
Amelia Bedelia Thursday: My second graders totally had an Amelia Bedelia moment in the art room. When I gave them used envelopes to keep their small cut out shapes in, I told them to "scratch out" the other persons name and write their own. I knew I had misspoke when I heard the following convo: (kid #1)"I just can't seem to scratch out the name!"...(kid #2)"here, let me try, I have really long fingernails". Ha! sweater, red dotted top, skirt: all from Goodwill; tights: Target; shoes: Fluevog
I am totally in love with these cuckoo clocks by contemporary artist Stefan Strumbel. He's from the Black Forest region and uses some very traditional methods in his non-traditional work. I love how he plays on themes of folklore and popular culture. You can check out more of his work here.
Catching a Cold/Surprise Observation Friday: That's right, an observation of my last class of the day before break. Did I mention I was also sick? To be fair, my insanely sweet vice principal asked if it was okay and I agreed. We'll have to wait and see how it went as I've decided not to open my score results until after break. jacket: Anthro, picked up at Buffalo Exchange; skirt: vintage, thrifted; boots: good ole Seychelles
In my research, I found this adorable fabric here. It's by the fabric designer Kelly Lee-Creel and it's from her Storybook line. I promptly ordered myself a couple of yards and I am mid-way through a new dress. I can't wait to share it with you. Sadly, I made the unwise decision to include sleeves...and if you've been reading here long, you know how I feel about ... sleeves.  If you don't know, let's just say, I ain't cuckoo over 'em.
I hope you have a wonderful start to your week tomorrow! Chat with you soon.









Thursday, November 15, 2012

DIY: The Turkey Apron with Special Guests: Kindergarten Turkeys

 Do you know what it feels like to have children point and laugh at you? 
Chase you down in the hallways, look you from head to toe and run away, giggling? 
Call you names? Like "big turkey lady" and (for the not-quite-gettin'-it set) "chicken girl"?

If you do, then you probably fall into the "crazy art teacher" category. 
If you don't, well then, you're missin' out. Big time.

 I bring to you the DIY Who-You-Callin'-a-Turkey? (said in your best "whatchu talkin' 'bout, Willis?" voice) Apron. And a welcome to my world.
 Now I don't normally go in for the holiday stuff in the art room for a coupla reasons. One, my little artists have enough projects going that by the time their procrastinatin' art teacher realizes there's a holiday approaching, there isn't time to create anything. And two, I'm not a big fan of holiday art. I guess I created too many hand-turkeys as a kid that it kinda left me with a this-ain't-art feelin'.

This week, however, my kindergarten friends managed to finish up their masterpiece which left me with one 1/2 hour art class to fill before our Thanksgiving break. Because we had just finished a project including shapes, I thought we could use our shape knowledge to draw our own turkey. The librarian loaned me this gem by the author of the Captain Underpants series. Being a vegetarian, I totally appreciate it's anti-turkey-eating storyline. 
I can't decide what I love more, those little dimply knuckles or that colorful turkey.
 We chatted about the shape of a turkey's head being like that of a small circle while his body is a large one. Details of the face were added as were feathers and his little legs. The kids had previously used oil pastels and recalled that you can overlap lines, hence the details created on the feathers.
 After reading the book and discussing how to draw the turkey, we were left with just enough time to create our own turkey-tasticness.
Love those knobby knees.
Can you say perfectionist? This girl is it.
Early finishers added an environment and some turkey friends to their background.
"Mrs. Stephens, you're a turkey!" To which I reply, "Who you callin' a turkey, turkey?" And it never gets old.
But enough of about the kid's creations, lemme show you how to turkey-ize yourself! I know you are dying to impress your friends and fam with your very own Turkey Apron. To create one, you'll need to rustle up the following supplies:
Please pardon the dirtiness of my apron. It's several years old and seen many a messy art class.
  • Yard and a half to two yards of a heavy neutral color fabric. Denim would work. I went with this gray fabric I had in my stash.
  • Variety of felt with corresponding colors of thread.
  • Buttons
  • Something for the belt and the loop around the neck. I went with some woven ribbon I had thrifted.
Need more apron-inspiration? Check out my DIY Art Teacher Rock Star Apron.
  1. I began by laying another apron on top of the fabric. I cut around that apron, leaving about an 1" for the seam. The seam was ironed under and hemmed.
  2. I then traced that same apron onto a large sheet of paper. This allowed me to sketch out my design and try it on in front of a mirror. Once I had the drawing complete, I used it as the pattern.
  3. After cutting out the pieces of my paper pattern, I cut them out again, this time with felt. To tack the felt in place, I used Witch Stitchery. 
  4. I set my sewing machine to the applique stitch and went to town. That part's easy. Just have plenty of thread on hand as you'll use plenty of it with that stitch. 
  5. Add the buttons, the belt and the part around the neck and Bam! You're a Turkey!
My turkey butt itches. Hat courtesy of my P.E. teachin' buddy.
I'm hoping you'll give this turkey apron a go. If you do, please let me know, I'd love to see what you created. If not, I totally understand. Only a crazy art teacher would walk around in a get-up like that. 

Happy (soon-to-be) Turkey Day!