Showing posts with label cassie stephens. Show all posts
Showing posts with label cassie stephens. Show all posts

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

In the Art Room: That Dreaded Art Supply Order

For those of you interested in the Artsy Apron Sew-Along, I'll have a post up shortly. In the meantime, this fab fabric can be found here
I'd like to take you on a trip back in my Art Teacher-in' History, if I might. It all began some 15 plus years ago when I'd just returned from attempting to teach art to some seriously cheeky Irish kids ("Miss, have you ever been in a drive-by?"; "Miss, do you think your president really messed around with that Monica lady?"; "Miss, Americans think we are all leprechauns, don't they?!"). Upon my return from student teaching in Ireland, I found that my pops, in great fear that I'd never actually land an art teacherin' gig, had sent out some 50 odd job applications to all over the country (Alaska, dad? Really? {not that there's anything wrong with that, Alaskan friends, it's just that temps below 30 are my kryptonite}). One of those places just so happened to be Nashville, Tennessee. On a whim, my Grandma Rosie (who passed this spring) and I decided to drive the 6 hours from Indiana, go on a coupla interviews (sans grannie, of course) and take in the sites. Little did I know, I'd end up loving the town, meeting my husband and callin' this lil place home. 

OH! Funny side story about that road trip with Grandma Rosie: the night before one job interview we treated ourselves to the delectable delight that is Cracker Barrel. If you aren't familiar with these restaurants (which are based outta Tennessee, yahoo!), they pride themselves on some seriously high- fat/heart-attack all-American fare. At the entrance of these restaurants, they sell a ton of Americana chachkies (all made in China, of course) in hopes that you'll spend even more dough whilst paying your dinner bill. After exploring the shop a bit, G-ma was ready to roll. And just as we were pulling onto the highway, G-ma gave a frightened gasp, held up the dinner tab that she'd had in her hand and said:

"Cassandra Lane [you know it's bad when your first and middle name are used]! We forgot to pay the bill!"
This is fabric too! I know, right?! Go here. 
Despite my dining-n-dashing ways, I managed to land my first art teaching gig. With only a coupla days before school began, I found myself living in an unfurnished apartment just a mile from my school. I didn't know a soul, the other teachers weren't especially friendly and my art room was a portable beside the school that had been left in shambles by the previous occupant. In the tiny closet of the room I found a bucket of crayons, some paper and lots of trash. I started to Freak The Funk Out. Where are my art supplies? What am I going to teach with?!

I approached my principal with my bucket of broken crayons. He was chatting with one of those not-especially-friendly teachers. They turned to look at me and, in my school-starts-tomorrow panic, all I could manage was:

"The only thing I have to teach art with is this bucket of crayons!"

To which the N.E.F. teacher said: 

"Well, some teachers have nothing."

Which is true. And I mightah actually taken her more seriously had her arms not been loaded down with brand new boxes of Crayola makers and bottles of Elmer's Glue. All of which I gawked at shamelessly. My principal took pity on me and gave me a meager budget to get me through that first year.

Several years later, I got a gig at a new school with an improved budget (it's not glamorous at 3-ish bucks a kid but I'm never without). At first I was thrilled to spend the money as this is a girl that loves to shop. However, with the high cost of supplies and the endless choices, it's actually one of my least fave things to do. I'm guessing it might be yours as well. For that reason, I thought I'd share a little of what my annual supply order entails. 

In this post, I'll be sharing with you what my 2-D order looks like. I'd LOVE it if you'd share what you order instead or perhaps some things that I've left off my list. If I get enough feedback, I'll create a follow-up post about 2-D supplies. AND I'll also be sharing some of my fave 3-D supplies in an upcoming post. In the meantime, let's go shopping!
FABRIC! If you didn't wanna join the Sew-Along before, I betcha do now! I'll keep you posted, promise.
Let's first chat about art supply catalogs, shall we? I mean, if you're an art teacher, you prolly have a million. I've ordered from just about all of them and I've yet to have a bad experience with any. Please check your catalog for rates and sales (oftentimes, shipping is free if you enter a code!). Here are some that I've shopped in the past:

Blick Art Supplies (Gah, so glad they dropped the "Dick")
United Art & Education (outta Indiana!)
Paint: I teach elementary aged kids but that doesn't mean I want that crap watery paint that doesn't mix. I've tried my share of the budget-friendly stuff and, lemme tell you, it's not so friendly when it won't mix or the paint dries and flakes off the kids' artwork. After trying many, I've settled on Crayola's Washable Paint. They are close to $20 a gallon so I don't buy every color. Here's what I usually order for a year of art with about 400 plus kids:

* 2 Gallons of Black, White and Yellow (not in love with the yellow as it's not the most opaque of paints...still looking for an alternative brand of yellow)

* 1 Gallon of Blue, Red, Brown, Magenta and Turquoise (not pictured but they do sell them)

Watercolor Paint: Okay, I used to HATE teaching watercolor until I was introduced to these Crayola Color Mixing Sets (I promise that Crayola is not endorsing this post, their stuff is just pretty stinking good). Now, IF YOU ALREADY HAVE WATERCOLOR SETS, don't buy these, buy the refills. The earth doesn't need more plastic waste and you don't need the white watercolor paint that comes in this set. So! When I am ordering paint pan refills, I order the following colors (the "mixing colors" have an * next to them): Red, Red-Orange*, Orange, Yellow, Green, Turquoise*, Blue, Blue-Violet*, Red-Violet*
Tempera Cakes: I don't think tempera cakes are necessary and I went years without them. However, now that I've got 'em I do love using them with my kindergarten friends. I like the Alpha color Biggie Cakes but the plastic holder the cakes come in pretty much blows. It's the cheapest plastic around and the bottom of the holder will break and leak water paint everywhere within a year. Despite that, I'll keep ordering the individual cakes and you can see my solution to leaky paint pans here

Paint Brushes: Royal Langnickel, y'all. This is the set I buy every couple of years and I love them. They work great for glaze, watercolor, those tempera cakes, you name it. 
Bristle Brushes: For these, I admit, I'm not too picky. We don't use them as often as the Royal Langnickel rounds so they last longer. I usually order the generic version of these...however, if you go too cheap, you'll get the ones where the bristles are constantly falling out. And if it's one thing the kids don't like, it's hairy artwork. 
Construction Paper: For construction paper, the only way to go is Tru-Ray, I think. I hate that fade-y thin stuff. I usually order the 12" X 18" and cut it down to whatever size I need. I usually order about 5 packs of black (they come in packs of 50 sheets) for framing and for the rest, I usually get a rainbow of variety.

Paper: For multi-purpose paper, I order about 4 reams of 80 lbs drawing paper, 12" X 18". I like the heavier paper because I can then use it for drawing, painting, collage, etc. I don't order watercolor paper or thin drawing paper. 
Tissue Paper: Fun but not necessary. I do like to order the kind that bleeds so we can do projects like this.
Pencils: When I first started teaching, I thought they were all alike. Not so, these are the best as they don't break so easily. I like to use the Biggie ones but I try to have both sizes for the kids.

Erasers: Gah, what a headache. Why do we have to stab them? I mean, what's that poor eraser ever done to you? I usually invest in the white erasers as they work the very best. I try to encourage the kids to leave the clothes on the eraser (eraser condom?) to help keep it clean. For my 4th graders, I like to let them use kneaded erasers and charcoal sticks. They think these are the very best things ever but you have to be careful, they might walk outta your room. Oh, this reminds me! In Ireland, the kids called 'em rubbers which always threw me, having a kid shout, "Hey, Miss, pass me a rubber!"
Colored Pencils: Ticondergoa used to make colored pencils and they were the jam, y'all! Since they've stopped I've been on the hunt for the very best. I needed some new ones this year so I decided to give these a go. I'll have to share a review with you when I get them. My biggest issue with colored pencils is that they 1. Are Crap and 2. Break So Easily! I'm hoping this at least solve #2.

Art Sticks: Now I've ordered these guys in the past and while the color is great the kids' biggest complaint is that they never have a sharp edge. Meaning that if a kid wants to color in a detailed area, these aren't the best tool. That's why I'm hoping those woodless colored pencils fill the gap.

 Oil Pastels: An art room staple, y'all. I usually order that box of Cray-pas on the left. This year I was really only in need of yellow, white and black so I simply ordered refills. If you wanna get fancy, I love those Crayola Portfolio oil pastels. They're so great because they are water soluble and fun to work with. I also love the variety of colors that the Cray-pas seem to lack.
Sharpies: Okay, I've never ordered these "Brush" Sharpies and I don't plan to with my little ones. However, I've used them and they are fantastic! If you have older kids, I'd recommend them. I do order a ton of the standard Sharpies in a wide variety of colors as they are great. 

Sharpie Ultra Fine: There are two kind of fine tipped Sharpie makers and the one above is my fave. The other fine tip seems to run out ink faster. While the tip of these sometimes splits, I do find that they last a bit longer. I also invest in the larger tipped black Sharpies. 

Oh, Markers: I really don't have a strong love for using markers in the art room. For me, they are like crayons: the kids can use them any time. I get it, I should teach "proper crayon/marker use" but whatever, they're boring. I do like to use them for other things like coloring on coffee filters and painting them with water or for printmaking. For that reason, I invest in one of these every other year. Crayola is okay when it comes to makers (they do seem to run out fast, if you ask me) but they are better than Mr. Sketch. Don't get me wrong, I love the vibrancy of Mr. Sketch but the constant marker huffing wears me out. Not to mention when the principal walks in and the kids say, "You should SMELL these!" it never sounds good.

By the way, if I were to order crayons (which I don't, I get those donated from classroom teachers constantly), I'd go with Crayola. 
Scissors and Glue: I used to be a Fiskars Girl, all the way. But, sadly, their quality has gone downhill fast. My last couple of orders the scissor handle would overlap causing me to pinch my hand. This year I'm going to give Westcott a go. I'll let you know how that goes. With glue, I use Elmer's School Glue. I hate glue bottles so I don't use them at all. Instead I keep the glue in small lidded cups and the kids apply it with an old paint brush. This has worked for me for years and has prevented that new-scissors-jammed-into-the-glue-tip phenomenon that we all know so well.

And there you have it! Okay, what'd I forget?! And what would YOU recommend?

Saturday, July 26, 2014

What the Art Teacher Wore #107 and Back to Schoolin'

Vintage Monday: Some of my fave vintage duds rarely see the light of day so this week I made a point to bust 'em out. This dress was one of my first vintage purchases that I dyed hot pink a coupla years back to hide some stains. Now that I think about it, Tuesday's dress is a dye-job too! dress: vintage; belt: Pin Up Girl Clothing; sandals: gift from a friend
Hello, kids! I hope that this sunshiny week has treated you swimmingly. Mine entailed feeble attempts at working in my art room (I can only manage about 3 hours a day before I start to whine "but it's summerrrrrr, I'm not supposed to be at schoooooooll!") and weak pursuits of stitching up some Back-to-School duds (I keep starting one dress and then another and then another. I really need meds for my self-diagonsed ADHD because self-medicating with coffee and chocolate only lead to a worse case of "look, SQUIRREL!"-itis). On top of that, I've been reading up on our Artsy Book Club choices and dreaming up ideas for an Apron Sew-a-Long (deets below, y'all). And to think that this week was supposed to be the calm before the Back-to-Schoolin' storm, pshaw!

I still cannot believe I start back to school in a matter of days. In fact, I know it's not sunk in as the Back-to-School nightmares have yet to begin (anyone else have these? Over-crowded art class, rowdy kids, paint everywhere, ticked off classroom teacher waiting outside the door with her kids in tow, me screaming for some semblance of control...oh, what am I talking about, that's no nightmare, that's my daily life!). To top it off, hubs and I headed out of town on Friday to spend our last vacation in California. When we return, I'll be hittin' the teachin' ground running. It's gonna be an interesting Back-to-Schoolin', I can already tell.

With returning to school in mind, I thought I'd share with you some of my Back-to-School projects and purchases. This is the kinda stuff that really gets me excited about returning to see my lil artist friends. Whuh about you, non-teachers and teacher-buds? What is/was your fave part about returning to school? Aside from huffing that brand new pack of Sharpies, as that's just a given. Whatever it may be, I hope it helps make the transition from easy-summer-days to kid-filled-artsy-craze a good one. Until next time, y'all!
Y'all recall that SmART! Craft Supply place I mentioned a coupla blog posts back? Well, they have a crazy assortment of sewing patterns (most being from the late 70's an 80's which is not my fave fashion era) and I scored this gem. I usually begin my sewing projects with a quick and crappy sketch just to wrap my head around where I'm going. I've decided to use a different pattern for the skirt portion (I didn't love the maxi vs. mini options. In fact, I hate maxis in the art room because every time I squat down, I ALWAYS step on my hem, attempt to stand up, get caught on stepped-on-hem and fall over. It's quite classy to see in action, I gotta tell ya). Here's hoping those angel-wing-sleeve-thingies don't look too angel-wing-y. Though pretty sure I'll be fine as I've never been confused for anything close to angelic. I'll keep ya's posted.
True Detective Tuesday: Since hubs has been home this week, we've spent some time hiking, reading and catching up on shows we've heard so much about. We decided to give True Detective a go this week. Have y'all watched this show? It's good...but unsettling. I find that I'm totally absorbed when watching it but feeling pretty funky afterwards. How bout y'all? dress: vintage, dyed purple by moi; shoes: Crocs, thrifted
What does Back-to-School Shopping mean to you? For me, it means FABRIC! And it's a wee bit outta control, as you can see. By the way, I recently threw the idea out there on Facebook (you can follow me here if you wanna) of hosting an Apron-Sew-Along on this here blog and got a great response. If you aren't familiar with a sew-along, it's where a blogger presents and teaches a sewing project over the course of several weeks and those that are interested, well, sew along. In the end, all projects are presented in a blog post and shared with the interwebbin' world. If you are interested...please let me know in the comments or on my Facebook page. I plan to share the details sometime next week. 
In the meantime, I've go some sewing to do! I've currently got three dresses in varying stages of completion and I need to get my behind in gear. I'm really hoping to have that one on the right ready by the first day of school. It's the one I'm using the angel-wing-sleeve-thingie dress pattern on. Wish me luck.
Butt Ugly But I Like It Wednesday: Seriously. When I found this get up at the thrift store a while back, I was so stoked. The hubs, well, not so much. two-piece crop top and cropped pants: vintage; bakelite bangles: gifts; shoes: Crocs
Back-to-School Shopping also entails scouring the interwebs for vintage clothing that reflects the culture I plan to teach. I found this super amazing skirt from this super amazing etsy seller Sassy Señorita Vintage. Y'all, this here awesome seller is why I love shopping on etsy. Not only is her shop fab but the shipping was fast. And when I sent her an email telling her I was an art teacher she threw in an extra goodie and packed it all in the most colorful of tissue paper that you know I'll be reusing in the art room. Thank you, Sassy Señorita!
The amount of work that went into the skirt is amazing. I've been studying the embroidery and the appliqué technique...thinking of trying my hand at this happy and colorful process.

Thursday Goodness: I ran errands like a crazy person Thursday in preparation to head outta town.  Isn't it funny how crazy things are before vacay? And then, when you get home, you need a vacay from the vacay! Which I totally won't get as we return home at midnight on Wednesday and start back to school bright and early Thursday, yikes! We'll see what state I'm in come next week. dress, bangles, brooch: vintage; rope sandals: Nomadic State of Mind
What else does Back-to-School Shopping mean? Bargains, 'course. Fact: I do have a shopping problemo. Howevers: I counter that buy only shopping used or cheap. For zample, I found these bad boys at Michael's Craft Joint for half off of $8 with the letters being a coupla bucks each. Add that 25% off coupon from my phone and BAM! I've got some happiness for the art room. Now, what to do with em...I'll keep you posted. 
Flyin Out Friday: My apologies for not only the goofball pose but the grainy photo. One of these days I'll quit this outfit photo biznatch and put you all out of your misery, ha! sweater: vintage; bike dress: Anthropologie; necklaces: made by me, DIY here
Don't let the sign fool you, we're actually in Anaheim, California at Disneyland, the Happiest Place on Earth. Hubs and I spent Saturday night at both California Adventure and Disneyland with plans to head back this evening. I'll share that adventure with you in an upcoming post if I recover from this vacay, heading back to school and getting all those dresses stitched up!
Until then, y'all enjoy your summer days! May they be slllooooooow and super happy!

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

DIY: That 70's Craft

Well, kids, whatcha see here is prolly the most tackiest of my DIY's to date. And that's really saying sumpin, having created such tacky-tastic gems as this and that and, oh, a lil bit of WTFunk-is-that?! But, when I got it in my head that I needed to create some woven mobiles for my art room (I have no earthly idea where these ideas come from but I seriously blame the high voltage of sugary cereals that I consumed as a child. Some folks have LSD flashbacks, I have Cap'n Crunch Cranium, y'all), for some reason, weaving on an embroidery hoop came to mind. Which is kinda odd seeing as how 1. Weaving is not my most favorite thing as it's repetitiveness bores the crap outta me (even though it's my fave thing to teach!) and 2. This DIY looks so 1970's and, well, I just don't dig the '70's, y'all.
But let us first talk about where this idea came from, shall we? Y'all might recall that my seriously awesome second graders created these circle loom weavings this year. Whilst decluttering this summer (which only lasted a day before I put everything back and decided I needed to keep it alllllll as we hoarders are prone to do), I stumbled upon my cache of embroidery hoops. I set aside a class set and just kinda had a staring contest with the rest. 

"What am I gonna do with you, hoops?" 
"DUH, make us into something totally tacky. It's what you do."

Embroidery hoops, these days, I tell ya. No respect for their hoarders.
Speaking of starring contest, if you look deep into those kitten eyes and say "Asha!" three times you'll soon find yourself under her magical cat spell and feeding her way more than her daily allowance of cat food, cheese and whipped cream. True Story: I left a container of pesto unattended for a full 30 seconds on the kitchen table and this fat cat was face deep in the stuff. Word of Advice: Don't eat the pesto at mi casa, ermkay?
If you decide that you need some totes tacky weaving wonders in your life, you'll need to scrounge up the following:

*  Embroidery hoopage

*  Yarn. I liked using the thicker stuff because it made the weaving process go by a lot faster.

*  Um, that's it! Let's do this people!

Since warping el loom-o can be a touch confusing (and if you don't know what "warping" means, no worries! Ima getting there), I thought I'd lay this whole process out for you in a coupla formats. Just below you'll find I made a short clip of me warping the loom and starting the weaving process. However, if you're like me, you also like step-by-step visuals which I've also provided. Because I'm a giver, y'all. 
Video footage-ness. I do hope I made something close to sense although my money is on nonsense. 
If you didn't understand the video or just can't stand the sound of my voice (you and my husband both), then lemme lay it out for you step-by-step style, kay? Here we go:

1. Begin by tucking the end of the yarn under the hoop's screw (heehee), wrapping the yarn around the back to the bottom, wrapping it around the front again and tying the long end to the short end in a double knot. See photo, please, as that sentence made no sense.
2. Yay, double knot! Adjust the knot so that it is centered. What we're gonna do now is warp the loom. That's fancy talk for wrapping a buncha strings around the embroidery hoop for us to weave over and under. So, to get started, flip the hoop over so that the knot is on the back. 
3. Like so. 
4. Now, let's begin rapping, ermay, Eminem? To do this, you'll be wrapping the yarn around the hoop. I have not cut the yarn from the skein as I don't know how much I'll need. You can cut it when you are finished. 
5. As I'm wrapping, I'm bringing the yarn around the loom. As I go, I'm pulling it just tight enough to hold the yarn in place. Since the wooden hoop has a little tooth to it, it holds the yarn in place as I go. However, I can adjust it and evenly space the yarn by simply scooting it around the hoop.
6. The goal is to end up with an odd number of strings wrapped around the loom. It doesn't matter what that odd number is so you can experiment to see which look you prefer. For the first timer, I'd go with a lower odd number so that there aren't so many warp stings to weave over and under. I decided to do 13 so Ima gonna keep going till I get there. 
7. Still going...
8. And, viola!, I've got 13 wraps around my loom! Now take a moment to cut your warping yarn (I cut mine the length of my loom and about 3") and evenly space out your warp stings.
9. Now that our loom is warped and ready to go, let's weave, kay? That rogue piece that you cut free from the yarn is now your weaving yarn or weft yarn if we're gonna use our vocab correctly. When you begin to weave, it does not matter if you go clockwise or counter. However, whichever direction you decide to go, be sure to stick with it! In this photo, I'm weaving counter clockwise and staring by going over the first set of warp strings (both top and bottom of the warp strings) and then under.
10. Keep going over and under...
11. And then pull that weft yarn tightly so that what you've woven gathers in the middle and looks like a mess. And then resume weaving.
12. When you run outta yarn, simply tie your new piece of yarn to the last. And keep going until you have a big fat furry weaving like this one...

13. BOOM! Super Tacky Woven Delight. Your inner hippie love child will thank you. By the way, to end this, simply tie the last piece of yarn you are weaving with to one of those weft strings and you're finished! I plan to loop a piece of yarn though the top of the hoop and hang these fun furry guys in my art room. We'll see how the Fire Marshall feels about that, ahem.
OH! I just wanna mention that those step-by-step photos wouldn't have been possible without the hubs. He's on vacation this week which means a coupla things:

1. He's on blog photography duty. 

2. He's honing his DIYing skills. Which, you gotta admit, could use some work. When I told him I'd broken my glasses he informed me, "I'll fix them!"...and this is how they were returned to me. When I gave him a questioning "Are you for realz?!" look, it was met with a "BOOM! Nailed it." 
 Yeah, much like I did these Totes Tacky Wild -n- Wacky Woven Wallhangings...BOOM! Nailed it!

For more weaving fun, you can check out these blog posts:

Circle Loom Weaving

Tree Weaving

A Woven Pouch

Cord Weaving

Have fun, y'all!