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

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

DIY: Felting a Dress is a Scream!

So the other day, a maintenance dude was in my art room installing what appears to be The World's Largest Flat Screen T.V. (seriously, ya'll. What am I gonna do with this thing, shop on QVC whilst the kids are art-makin'? Hey...wait a minute...). Annnyway, we got to chatting and dude tells me a story about his high school art teacher that is so deliciously demented, I just have to share it with ya. Apparently, this art teacher salvaged her daughter's hair after a hair cut and, wait for it, knitted it into a sweater.

[I'll pause here until you finish with the dry heaves.]

But wait, there's more! Dude then proceeds to tell me that whenever you were working on your masterpiece, the art teacher, forever in her Hairy Hoodie, would lean over to offer advice and, when doing so, the hairs would tickle your face. 

[Again, I pause. Heave away.] 

"Because all art teachers are weird, you know," said that formerly tickled and tormented soul. "Even you!" Mind you, I just met this guy and he's already got me (accurately) pegged.

Why tell you this story? Because I remembered it when I was felting hairs into this dress. Not human hair, mind you, but that of some colorful sheeps and, well, maybe a rogue cat hair or twenty.

And I'm left with the thought: Will my sweet art-lovin' students tell stories of their Hairy-Dress art teacher?!
I scream at the thought.
According to my calculations, there here is my 12th Hairy, er, Needle Felted Creation. For my latest felted -n- foxy masterpiece, follow this linky-loo which will lead you down a rabbit hole of cheeseball needle-felting tutorials and a look-see of my Needle Felted Projects of the Past.

With that outta the way, let's chat about this here Munch-inspired Scream dress, ermkay? I gave ya'll a look-see (as well as a brief history of el Munch-o) in this What I Wore post. I've had my mind set on creating a Scream dress since my Adventures in Making an Artist-A-Month Dress began. And I've had my eye on this years-old (and slightly ruined from a formerly failed DIY) dress as the perfect canvas for this Scream-tastic adventure. I began by drawing my design out in chalk as it's easy to erase with an elbow or completely rid of with a toss in the wash.
Way back in January, when hubs and I took to the Smoky Mountains for some adventuring, I stumbled upon a knitting/weaving/felting shop that had this amazing felt roving. When I saw it, I immediately knew it'd be perfect for The Scream and scooped it up for a mere $14, ya'll. I thought the mix of colors would save me a lotta labor layering colors...which I spent a lot of time doing in this piece.
And in 30 minutes, I had a wee bit of sky in place.
Many more than 30 minutes later, I had made some progress...however, it's become apparent to me that I need to size-up on my needle felting tool as that little bitty pencil-sized thing takes For.Eve.Rrrr.
However, I was determined to finish this super hairy beast. So I strapped on my headphones, jammed out to some rando tunes (I ran the musical gamut from Mazzy Star to Siouxsie and the Banshees and some Lily Allen. I tole you, rando) and worked until the loopeyness set in...

At which point hubs came in to check on me (I wasn't responding to his hollerin' due to said headphone/jam-out sessions). He brought Ashie with him who we promptly styled with a rogue piece of roving. Question: Do you prefer the Conan O'Kitty on the left or the Cat-Faux-Hawk on the right? Let's be honest, this cat looks good in any random roving we put on her head.

When the dress was finally complete, it seriously weighed a ton. I totes wasn't  expecting it to be so hot and heavy, heehee. Ahem. To smash down the roving (and lock the fibers into place), I flipped the dress inside out, as seen, and ironed the crap outta it on the steamiest setting available.
This helped flatten the otherwise lumpy and bumpy look to the dress. Which is never appealing.
By the way, I saved the Scream-y face for last. I was certain I was going to mess it up. And that's like the most important part. Mess that up and you lose the image entirely.
And I did struggle with it a bit. Originally, I created the hallows of the eyes in brown. However, that appeared much darker than is seen on the original. So I toned down the hallows with a very fine veil of peach roving. This worked to push the eye sockets back a pinch and made it so the pupils could come forward. It was a happy accident and I'm excited that I discovered a fun way to play with value whilst felting.
Of course, no post about The Scream would be complete without a dorky attempt at The Scream. I had to channel my inner Home Alone/Macaulay Culkin. My sincerest apologies.

And there you have it! One felted The Scream dress that's hairy-feltedness is sure to tickle the face of some poor student who will live to tell about it to generations to come. And by "generations" I mean their many therapists.

Until next time, I hope your week is a Scream, ya'll!

Sunday, April 20, 2014

What the Art Teacher Wore #96 and Artist/Teachers

Monday with a Side of Cat: We have a lot of wee wildlife activity that happens on our deck. There's the usual squirrels, chipmunks and birds...but lately we've had plenty of visits from the wild turkey in our neighborhood as well as some unwelcome opossums and skunks. It's enough to keep our indoor cat entertained for dayz. dress: vintage, thrifted; belt and boots: Anthropologie; tights: Target; necklaces: DIY made by me, here.
 Hiya, kids! I hope you all had just the best weekend ever. I spent the grand majority of mine hiking with the hubs, watching entirely too many episodes of any and every survivalist show we can manage to find and felting. Oh, yes, looooots of needle felting. I can't wait to share with ya'll the finished mess-terpiece later this week!

Earlier this week, I caught an interesting conversation on the Art Teachers page on Facebook. It was a long-winded convo where, sadly, things got lost in translation and it got a pinch ugly.  Essentially, what it boiled down to was this: a comment was made that drew a line in the sand between "Career Artists" (not my words) and "Art Teachers".  Wait, there's a difference?! It was like you coulda heard all the art teachers suck air in through their tightly clinched teeth.

Maybe Ima speaking for myself when I say this but...I discovered art (and my love for it) first, then art education (and my love for it.) Since finding my love for creating way back in elementary school, I considered myself an artist. I never dreamed of becoming an art teacher until college when my parents (who thankfully footed the bill) suggested an art ed degree. At the time, I was attending Indiana University and currently enrolled in the painting program there. And, boy, talk about a line drawn in the sand! The moment my painting professors found out I was on the path to becoming a teacher, it was like I was no longer a serious artist. The mentality and snobbery strongly reminded me of that Career Artists vs. Art Teachers convo.

Now, in defense of the term "Career Artist", it does mean one that makes a career of creating and selling their own art. And that is not something I do. So, I understand the difference, I get it. However, what I do instead of selling my own art is enjoy creating art for myself and teaching others to do the same. I guess you could call me a Crazy Career Art Teacher. And I'm cool with that.

Do you know of any famous artists that were also great educators? Aside from finding out that Gene Simmons used to be a teacher (wait, whut?!), I discovered that portrait painter Robert Henri was also a Career Art Teacher. 
 Robert Henri, 1907 Wikipedia says that Robert Henri (1865-1929) was an "artist and a teacher," forming the famous Ashcan group (one of my college faves). Robert Henri was a popular and influential teacher at the Art Students League of New York. It's said that he gave his students, not a style (although you can tell some were strongly influenced by his style), but an attitude, an approach to art.
Mary Agnes, 1924 It seems that Henri was always a teacher, a leader, even in his group of artist friends. He urged his friends and students to create a new, more realistic art that was more about their life and surroundings and less about creating Impressionist-influenced works. The paintings by Henri, John Sloan, George Luks, and others that were inspired by this idea became the Ashcan School of American art.

If My Keys Were Always this Easy to Find, Tuesday: This here is the first ever dress I made...with the help of a good art teacher buddy of mine. dress and belt: me!; tights: Target; shoes: Dolls by Nina
 Tam Gan, 1914 In keeping with that notion that artists should be influenced by their surroundings, Henri said: "Art cannot be separated from life. It is the expression of the greatest need of which life is capable, and we value art not because of the skilled product, but because of its revelation of life's experience." I love that. Don't you?

Yes, I Wore this to Work Wednesday: Recently, someone asked me if I actually wear the outfits I post to school. Well...not to sound like an a-hole but the blog post is called "What the Art Teacher Wore". I don't snap too many photos at school because 1.) I find I look less like pooh on a stick first thing in the morning before I leave the house 2.) I take these photos myself with my camera timer. When someone walks in on me snapping away it is Awk.Ward. to say the least 3.) My art room is always a disaster! I mean, look at those mounds of zip-locked clay projects behind me on the floor. And that's the "clean" area! sweater, purple top, tights: Target; skirt and shoes: thrifted; necklace:   The Paper Source
Oh! I interrupt all this Robert Henri-ness say, look who I got to meet up with on Wednesday...none other than Erica, aka Art Project Girl! I met Erica through the wide world of art teacher blogging and was so thrilled to visit with her (and her super sweet sis-in-law) while she was in town. It was so fun meeting up with her -- even though we'd never met, it was like we'd known each other forever. So glad to see/meet you, Erica!

Sparkly Thursday: Oh, gotta love a four day week...I thought the occasion called for wearing excessive amounts of sparkles. As should everyday, really. top and tights: Target; sweater: ebay; vintage painted skirt: Buffalo Exchange

The Green Sacque, 1927 One of the things that really strikes me about Henri is that he wasn't just a teacher to his students but to other artists. I felt weird reading that conversation on Facebook because of that line in the sand. Why is there a divide between Career Artists and Art Teacher? Shouldn't we be learning from and influencing each other? I could learn so much from a working artist that could be shared with my students...and vice versa. I did find that there are actually a couple of online communities that work toward just that. One is called Artists Who Teach and another is the Association of Teaching Artists
Good, er, Happy Friday!: On Thursday, one of my students said, "Tomorrow is called 'Happy Friday'...right?" After that was straightened out, we all agreed that a day off is pretty stinkin' happy. dress: Anthropologie found at Buffalo Exchange; scarf: Orly Kiely; belt: gift; dotted boots: DIY, go here.
 What are your thoughts on this, ya'll? As an art teacher, do you also consider yourself an artist? Or, because you don't sell your work as a main source of income, does that make you less of one? Do you create artwork with the intent to sell or show? Or simply for your own pleasure?

Could I possibly ask you any more questions?!

Oh! Yes, I've actually got one more! Have you read this book by Henri? I've been meaning to since those aforementioned college when I found out the dude was an artist/teacher. Looks like a summer read to me.

Be back with ya soonish!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

In the Art Room: Circle Loom Weaving with Second Grade

When it comes to art lessons, I'm not much of a repeat offender. Since I like to change up the cultural theme of my art room every year, my lessons usually follow suit. However, I always have my 2nd grade create a circle loom weaving for a coupla reasons:

* It's excellent for building fine motor skillz and pumpin' up those wee hand muscles. And what kid doesn't want super strong man-hands?

* It's chock full o math connections: measuring, pattern making, long division (okay, maybe not that last one but you get the idea.)

* It reaches those kids that might otherwise slip through the art cracks (dude! what if there were such a thing as "art crack"?! Would that be like the equivalent of huffing a sharpie and drinking the paint water?!) Particularly my boy students. They absolutely thrive on weaving, being the tactile learners that they are. In fact, I overheard one little guy tell a buddy whilst weaving, "this is the best day of my life, I love this!" Daawwww.
All that being said, I've not been in love with how I've taught circle loom weaving in the past. Usually when we wove on a plate, we simply started with a blank Chinet plate, created our weaving and used markers to color the rim of the plate (go here and scroll down to 2nd grade art to see). Last year, in an effort to change things up a bit, we did the whole weaving on a CD thang which was cool and all but I still wasn't in love with the end result.
This year, in an effort to try something totes different but still make sure the kids got in their much needed weaving time, I opted to have them paint their plates before attaching them with woven greatness.
 Wait, you wanna make a Painted Plate Circle Loom Weaving too?! Okay, kids, russell up the following: 

Chinet Plates. Ya'll don't use anything less. These bad boys are as good as a canvas as far as plate-painting-surfaces go.

Tempra Paint. I only use Crayola's Washable Paint. The colors are about as good as it's gonna get in an elementary classroom.

A Loom Template. You'll thank me later, ya'll.

Yarn and Beads.
 Over the course of 2-ish art classes, we painted these plates. On our first day, we chatted about Kandinsky's concentric circle paintings and created our own. The following art class was spent using the World's Smallest Paint Brushes to craft those patterns that you see. By the way, if these look a pinch familiar to you, I shared these plates in a recent post about (attempting) to teach good craftsmanship. 
 Once the plates are painted and patterned, I give the kids a loom template with exactly 19 notches (not nachos) cut into it. The kids are to trace these notches onto the rim of their plate, count to check that they only have 19 lines to cut (because there will be the rando kid that has 55 lines drawn everywheres) and then cut the lines on the rim of the plate. I encourage them not to cut beyond the rim as this will make for a saggy weaving. Which sounds about as ugly as it is.
 Once the kids have their plates (which we now call our looms) cut, they are to grab a small skein of warping string and meet me on the floor. For the correct amount of warping string, I wrap the yarn from my hand to my elbow five times. These small bundles are available in a variety of colors for the kids to choose from. 

Now. Let's talk about teaching the kids to warp their looms. Which can either be like watching a train wreck happen in slow motion or a piece of cake. Lemme show you the cake route cuz, well, everybody loves cake.

First of all, when we are all seated on the floor, with our looms and warp string in front of us, ain't nobody allowed to touch nuthin until I say "go". You even think about touching that loom and yarn and Ima gonna snatch it up. Because, you know wuz about to happen. They'll think they've got it, fiddle around and not catch a bit of direction and the next thing you know, you've got a class of 20 all train-wreckin-it-up. So. Watch me and wait for the "go". 

First step: Put the tail end of the yarn in any notch. There should be a short tail about the length of your finger in the back while the rest of the yarn hangs loose and free in the front. Go. (I tell the kids that their "go" signal to me for the next step is to put their weavings on the floor in front of them. When I see that, I can proceed.)

Next: Bring the length of yarn down dividing the plate in half (see above photo). But, there's a catch. Be sure that there are 8 empty notches on the left side and 9 on the right. That's muy importante, ya'll. Go.

Now: (see left photo) Take the long length of string and have it "go to the right neighbor's house" meaning have your string go in the next notch on the right hand side. Now, this neighbor is super rude and it shouts, "get outta my house!" so the string runs all the way across the plate (see right photo) and makes the World's Smallest X. 

 Next: Rotate the plate so that the length of string is at the bottom (left picture). That story I just told about the string getting kicked out of the neighbor's house? It's a pattern. Which means it's gonna repeat. So, let's do it again! Go to the right neighbors house. Get kicked out. Go across the street and make the World's Smallest X. Rotate the plate.

After watching this routine, the kids walk me through completing my plate warping by repeating this as I go:

Go the neighbor. Get kicked out. Make World's Smallest X. Rotate the Plate.

Which gets shortened to:

Neighbor. Out. X. Rotate.
 You'll know you're finished when your little string has no home to go to. And that will be your weft or weaving string!

The following art class, we start to weave with that wee string.
 The first day of actual weaving is usually the toughest. I tell 'em over and under until I'm blue in the face...and they get it. That is until they pull the string tightly to the middle and it looks like this:
And then they're all "whuh, huh? whuh just happened to my string?" 

At this point, I tell them that they might have to loosen their weaving a bit to see just what they did previously. This will put them back on over-and-under track. When their weft is as long as their hand, they are to double knot tie a new string to the end. It can be a tough first day...but I repeat over and again: Your first day of weaving is the hardest. But you'll get this. And you'll love it. 
And when they do, without sounding like some sappy art teacher, it's pure magic.

During our weaving sessions, some kids sit on the floor with me and we chat and get to know each other. We've taken weavings outside on sunny days and sat under trees. We lay on the floor or relocate to tables where our buddies sit. It makes for such a fun and relaxing environment. 
Since the kids really caught on fast to weaving this year, I thought I'd throw out the option of adding pony beads. Some kids took to it right away, complimenting their designs with a beaded pattern. 

 And others opted out, content to just weave until they reached their limit of a 4" diameter. Once weavings were complete, the last of the weft strings was double knot tied to a warp spoke.

The weaving portion of this project only took us 2-ish 30 minute art classes. Since I limited the diameter to 4" (because I hated the thought of their beautiful paintings being hidden AND because the kids will seriously weave For.Eve.Rrr. if not limited), the project ended up being rather quick. By my weeks-long-art-project standards.
I think I can happily say, I'm thrilled with these circle loom weavings. I will definitely be sticking with this painted plate loom lesson. It's become a new weaving fave. To finish these guys off, the kids will tie a "hanger" of yarn at the top so these can be displayed for our upcoming art show!

By the way, I've shared a couple of weaving posts on this here blog. Some of my faves are the following:

What are your fave weaving projects? I'd love to hear!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

DIY: A Quilted and Embroidered Amsterdam

Tell me if this has ever happened to you:

You're perusing your fave teaching, sewing, art-making blogs and you start to feel a little, I dunno, crappy. Because, well, look at all the amazing stuff those bloggers taught/stitched/created! How did they get all that taught, when I'm still reminding kids not to double stack artwork on the drying rack?! When did they have time to stitch that skirt when I'm still suckin' at putting in a decent zipper?! Wait, someone above the age of 10 made art?! I don't even have a single idea in my head to create from!

If this has ever happened to you, then you and I are in the very same boat, friend. And that boat has a name. I like to call it (not The Love Boat, you goober) The Big Blog Illusion. Which I realize is a crappy name for a boat but bear with me.

 Have you heard of The Big Blog Illusion? I didn't think so because I just now made it up. Lemme tell you why I coined this phrase. As blog reader, I often feel overwhelmed and totes slack-tastic when I read my fave blogs. Sometimes it's inspiring and I'll actually get up off the couch and attack that DIY...but sometimes, it's disheartening. 

However, as a blogger, let me fill you in on a wee secret: The Big Blog Illusion is just that, an illusion. Most of the time, the DIYs you see on this blog were made over the course of weeks if not months. That's the trick. Nothing that I ever share with ya'll was made overnight or over a fortnight (do you even know how long I've wanted to use that word on this blog?!). I'm a starter/work on-and-off for a while/put it to the side/pick it back up again/finally finish it weeks later kinda gal. So when I finally get around to sharing my project, it looks like this Big Fat Hairy Thang that I magically completed in a blink. Not so. Take this Quilted and Embroidered Amsterdam DIY for 'zample.
Hubs and I ventured to Amsterdam two summers ago. You'd know this if you could see my hubs now, his beard is down to his chest and his hair is to his shoulders, hence the nickname Ginger Jesus. When we returned I started looking through photos from our vacay and really loved this cityscape...
But really, what's not to love?

So when I saw this illustration in The Usborne Book of Art Ideas, I was all, hey! That's Amsterdam! Ooooh, I wanna make that right now!

And, here we are, Two. Years. Later.
(Ya'll need to get your Kitten Mittens on these Usborne Books for your art room, they're amazingness, no lie.)
But, since this is a DIY post, Ima gonna digress for uno momento. Just in case you wanna make your very own Two Year Long Quilted and Embroidered Amsterdam (which won't take you two years unless you are totes slacktastic like me). 

From my stash, I picked out gingham, striped and solid fabrics that I thought looked nice together. After cutting these into 2" X 3" shapes, I stitched them together vertically to create buildings and then stitched those buildings together to complete the cityscape. This was then stitched to some yellow background fabric and I began to embroider the buildings. Not being one of my fave things in the world, I only worked on the embroidery when traveling as it's my only craft that travels well. Which is one of the reasons it too me so stinking long.
 Now, lemme address that feeling of never having any ideas. I am not a pull-anything-outta-the-air-and-make-it-amazing kind of person. Are you? If so, I envy you and secretly hate your face. I struggle coming up with an original idea. Knowing this, my ideas usually grow out of whatever I'm currently working on. Like these planters, ya'll. I made them at a workshop (DIY here) right after I had started my embroidered Amsterdam. 
(Have ya'll ever tried satin glazes? I use Stroke and Coat by Mayco with the kids...but for me I love using these pastel color that have a lot less shine.)
So, where am I going with all this jibber-jabber? I guess what I'm trying to say is this: if you ever start to feel down like you never ever get anything accomplished after perusing those blog faves of yours,  just think of me. And my Two Year Long Embroidered Amsterdam Adventure and think, "Shoot! Ida at least had that embroidery done in a fortnight, ya'll!"

Chat with ya soonish!