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

Thursday, August 21, 2014

In the Art Room: How Did I Get Here? (with a GIVEAWAY!)

Did anyone else have these yarn painting kits as kids? I obviously loved 'em, look at that ridiculous toothless grin. The surface was tacky so you just placed the yarn where you wanted kinda like the 80's American version of Huichol yarn painting. 
 So last week I just kinda casually threw out the question: Do you think your kid-interests have had an influence on your adult-interests? Y'all. What I heard back from you was a resounding YES. Your Tinker Toys instilled a love of sculpture; your Fashion Plates have you stylin to this very day; your giant collection of naked Barbies have lead you to long walks on nudist beaches. But I got to thinking (which explains the burning smell)...what else in your formative years built the foundation of the person you are today? I keep thinking of the Talking Heads song Once in a Lifetime: 
And you may find yourself living in a shotgun shack
And you may find yourself in another part of the world
And you may find yourself behind the wheel of a large automobile
And you may find yourself in a beautiful house, with a beautiful wife
And you may ask yourself, Well...How did I get here?
"I hate rats.!!"...really? Cuz, you know, most people freakin' LOVE rats. And where in my 2nd grade life had I ever even encountered a rat, anyway? Did the rat outbreak happen to devour the Grammar Police because this wee paragraph woulda been under arrest, y'all.
 So, how DID you get here? What people, places or Mattel toys brought you to where you are today? Who inspired that passion in you to create, teach, stitch, cook, whatever-it-is-you-do-so-well? I'm nosy and I wanna know. So I've got a lil proposition for ya. I'll share my story if you share yours...AND if you do, I'll be placing your name in a drawing for a Brand New Car Spiral Art Kit!
Here's how you can enter the giveaway:

Share your story in the comment section below! 
Let us know who/what/how you were introduced to the creative passions you have today. Was it a teacher? A relative? A combo of a buncha stuff? 

Your name will be tossed in a hat and the winner announced in about a week on Sunday, August 31st! I'll (re)share your tale in a blog post and send you the prezzie shown above: A Spiral Art Kit!

Why in the world am I doing this? Because, man, as an art teacher, it's my overwhelmingly-intimidating job to inspire a passion for dreaming, imagining and creating in my students. By doing a little digging, I thought we could all learn how lives have been changed so we could return the favor to those who's lives we impact. Whether you are a teacher, a parent or that super cool aunt/uncle, I know you want to share your passion with the wee folk in your life. What better way to learn how them from our own past? 

So, what's your story?
Remember back in the good ole days when we could dress up on Halloween in elementary school? I just knew I was gonna be a vet when I grew up so I dressed as one every other Halloween. Oh, by the way, that Grim Reaper haunted my nightmares until about a year ago. 

 Well, since you (didn't) ask, I'll tell ya mine: I went to a very small elementary school that I have the fondest memories of. The only problem with the place was that we never had an art class. I knew I liked to draw but I was never exposed to art in school. Thankfully, they still taught penmanship back in those days and that was my creative outlet. I struggled with reading and was miserable at sports but man! did I have some of the prettiest cursive in all of elementary school land. It was the closest thing I had to drawing and I worked on those purple ditto sheets like it was my job. 
Updated version of letter to moms: "Dear Mom, You can be happy, my house is NEVER clean. Love, Cassandra". Whenever I talk to that lady, she always tells me, "it's okay, you are so busy with much more important stuff." Thanks, mom!

Thankfully, the parental units tapped into my creative outlets. They signed me up for drawing classes (even if I was the only kid in there with a buncha blue hairs...and I ain't talkin' hipsters, ya'll) and bought me craft kits. But it wasn't until I spent a couple summers with my grandma that I discovered my true love: crafts. In her wee trailer, that woman had every kind of craft supply imaginable. She taught me to cross stitch, embroider, create beaded jewelry, you name it. I remember the embroidered design I created that once finished, she stitched into a pillow for me. It sat proudly on our couch until I caught the stomach flu and tossed my cookies all over it. Ah, memories. 
Lil known fact: I was The Big Wheel Champion of Joliet, Illinois in the 1980s. This picture only shows what became the tip of my trophy iceberg. The only thing that stopped me from continuing my rein were those dang legs. They got so long I looked like a freaking praying mantis on a circus trike. I'm willing to bet my retirement that my mama still has those trophies in her garage.
When I hit fifth grade, I had a teacher that was like no other. She had a love for space (this was 1985, the year of both Haley's Comet and the Challenger) and art. That passion of hers was so contagious that I began drawing more, collecting all things space-themed and even wrote a couple of ridiculous plays (that she allowed us to perform). I honestly felt like she believed I was someone special. And maybe she did...or maybe she just had that amazing magical teacher touch that inspired all of her students to believe in themselves. Regardless, as a teacher, she had the greatest impact on my life and for that, I'm forever grateful. 
Isn't making a kid feel like a superhero a teacher's job? Such a tall order...but I'm willing to bet money that some of your stories will include teachers too.
I could go on and on with more stories of awesome teachers, painting professors (Barry, you are the best!), friends and fam that have inspired me along the way but I'd much rather hear from you! So if you have a moment and would be so kind, please drop me a line in the comments with your story. Remember, I'll enter you to win a Spiral Art Kit because I totes believe in a good bribe.

Chat with ya soon!







Monday, August 18, 2014

Apron Sew-Along, Part 1: Pattern and Pocket Making

Okay, that man who lives in my house and eats my burnt banana bread makes fun of me because every one of my lil vid clips starts with a "hey, guys." I honestly tried to spice it up with something else ("hey, my b%tches" just didn't feel right) but I'm from the Midwest, what can I say? So "hey, guys" it is.

Welcome of the Apron Sew-Along! 

I'm so glad you are here, kids, I cannot wait to see the apron you create! Now, just to make it clear, you can sew any kind of apron you want (that's right, I bolded and italicized that bit. That's when you know I'm for serious). Whether it be bedazzled or ruffled, I say go crazy and make it your own. I've decided to show you how to stitch a simple reversible apron with nice deep pockets (because an apron without pockets is, like, absurd in my book. Which is titled Aprons Without Pockets is Absurd. It's a working title.) I thought by keeping it simple and giving you lots of options, we'd all come up with something a lil different. So, without further jibber-jabber, let's chat about what we'll be working on this week...
Apron Sew-Along, Week 1:

* Washing and drying out fabric to remove that weird sizing.
*  Creating pattern pieces outta wrapping paper or whatever else you've got large sheets of.
*  Stitching a two-ply double pocket that can either be solid or patchworked (I lost you didn't I? Just keep reading, you'll get it).
*  Cutting out our apron shape.
*  Stitching our pocket to our apron!
So by week's end, you should have something like this! More than likely, you'll have something even better.
Let's chat about fabric before we go any further. I had so much fun throwing fabric all over the floor of my sewing room to see what would work together. Here's what I've come up with for the front of my apron. That orange chevron is going to be used for the ties and the neck strap...so I had to be certain I liked it with both aprons fabrics.
Because I wanted to mix things up a bit, I decided to have a solid pattern pocket on this side with a strip of polka dot at the bottom. I'll tell ya how I did that here shortly. First, let's talk pockets.
I opted to make one large rectangular pocket with a stitch down the center. I thought this kind of pocket would be more useful than a single one. To create this, I simply cut out a piece of super cute kitten wrapping paper to 10" X 16". If you listen to the video clip, I'll walk you through pocket making. I've also written out the steps for you to follow that way as well. I do hope it makes a smidge of sense. Cuz that's really all I got. Just a smidge.
Told ya.
Okay, so I totes know my pocket's a lil crooked. But I'm not fixing it. This thing is about to be covered in all things art room so a slightly off-kilter pocket ain't nuthin. Now let's chat about the making of this pocket.
To make your pocket two-ply, take your pocket fabric and fold in half. Pin your pattern piece to the fabric along the fold. Cut out everything except that folded edge. Remove your pins. Now put the pins back on the fabric but just along the sides. When you stitch, you will only sew the sides. The top should be folded and the bottom should be open.
Stitch along the sides. Trim that seam close to your stitches and angle cut those corners there the folded edge and your stitched edge meet. Flip inside out and iron.
Flip the bottom raw edge inside an inch so that the pocket is now 9" in height. Iron.
Now let's chat about that patchwork pocket. I love it on this wild and crazy fabric!
Make two pattern pieces one that is 7" X 16" (which you'll cut one) and one that is 8" X 16" (that you'll cut two).
Pin the pattern pieces to your fabric and cut out. Remember, for the top band, you'll only need to cut out one piece; bottom band, two pieces.
To create, remove your pattern pieces. pin the long edges with right sides together and stitch.
Iron open your seam. Now repeat these same steps on the other side so that you have, basically, a fabric sandwich with your smaller band of fabric in the middle.
Again, press open those seams. To turn this into a pocket, you are going to follow those same steps as above. this time your "folded edge" will be that middle band of fabric. Stitch the sides, remove pins, trim seam and flip inside out. Fold in the open bottom portion and iron.
In this clip, I'll walk you through creating your apron pattern piece. 
For your apron, cut out a piece of fabric that is a 31" X 18" rectangle.
You are creating half of an apron pattern, not the whole thing. Because your apron will be symmetrical, you are going to simply fold your fabric in half, place that pattern piece along the folded edge and cut as you see below. But first, we need to create that curved side so you won't be walking around wearing a rectangle. To create that curved edge, I measured 7" from the lefthand side and made a small mark. Then I measured 16" from the top of the right hand side and made another mark. I connected the two dots with a large curved line. If you are not sure about your curved-line drawing skills, no worries. Maybe you have a large round lid you can trace for the curve. 
Again, pin the long edge along your folded edge of fabric and cut.
Now, I did make my apron pretty long because I'm on the tall side. If you cut your apron out and hold it up to you and it touches your toes than you might wanna shorten it. Or grow a coupla inches. For a shorter apron, you might wanna start with a rectangle that is 28" X 18".

Because I wanted a little band of accent fabric at the bottom of my superhero side, I decided to cut the apron to that short size. Then I cut out a rectangle of my contrasting fabric in the remaining about which I think was 3" X 18". Don't forget that this fabric will also need to be folded in half to give you  the correct width.
If you are adding that band of fabric to the bottom, pin the right side of your contrasting fabric to the right side of your apron and stitch. Iron you seam out flat.
Now, let's add that pocket to your apron! To do this, I folded my apron in half along that long line. I measured 17" down from the top of the apron. With my pocket also folded in half (so to center my pocket along the middle), I pinned it down. Then I flipped my apron over and pinned down the other side of the pocket. Using a piece of chalk and a ruler, I drew that middle vertical line. That's the line I stitched first. Don't forget to back stitch. For added strength, I also went back and did a zig zag stitch. I don't want my apron pocket to pull off my apron. After stitching the middle line, I stitched along the bottom edge. 

Now, to make sure that your hands can fit in your pockets, remove your pins and slide your hand inside your pocket. Now pin that pocket down with that little added space and stitch along those side seams. Again, backstitch and add that zigzag for reinforcement. 

If you look below, you'll see that my pockets look a little baggy. That's because of that little bit of space I accounted for. I have big mannish hands, they need all the space they can get. 
And there you have it! Pattern pieces created (I've labeled and saved mine for future apron reference), pockets created, aprons cut out and pockets attached! Whew! That outta keep you busy for a week, amirite?!

Pretty please leave any questions you might have (because I did a lousy job of 'splainin') in the comments and I'll be certain to get back attcha. Also! I'd love to see your progress on the Apron Sew-Along Facebook page! Thanks for joinin' in, y'all. Happy stitchin'!


Sunday, August 17, 2014

What the Art Teacher Wore #110 and First Full Week of Skool!

 Maniac Monday: Some crazy man (aka Ginger Jesus) decided to photobomb my outfit posts this week. During my first photo attempt, I was outside snapping pics. When I scrolled through the photos, I noticed that SOMEBODY was in the background pressing his large white belly against the glass window. So I decided to snap some pics inside and he found his way into this picture. I'd say he should do a daily What Ginger Jesus Wore but it would just be a repeat of the previous days as this dude is always in head-to-toe brown. If ever I have to file a Missing Persons it will be "Sasquatch Man Last Seen in Brown". on me, top: garage sale; skirt: etsy; shoes: Target, last season; bangles: gifts; palette hair clip: made by me. On hubs: t-shirt: army surplus; shorts: thrifted

Well, hello friends! I'm proud to say that I made it through my first full week back in Art Teacherin' Land! It was a super fun week and I can't wait to share with y'all what we've been up to. Howeves,  if I learned one thang this week it's that I have to let go of my late nightin' ways. No more hitting the hay at 11pm only to rise and shine at 5am. Cuz ain't nobody shinin' when they crawl outta bed looking like a drunken zombie. So! Lesson learned. This week my new bedtime is 10:59pm.

Speakin' of this week, I'm super excited to announce that the Apron Sew-Along starts this coming week! Yippie! So many of you all have shared your fab fabric choices and I cannot wait the finished results. In this first week's Apron Sew-Along post, I'll share with you how to create your own pattern, cut your fabric, stitch a pocket and attach that bad boy to your apron! You can follow along with me if you wanna or create an apron design all your own. I'd love it if you'd join the Apron Sew-Along page and share your progress with the rest of us.

In this here post, along with my Back-to-School attire, I thought I'd give you a sneak peak of our first couple of days in art class and just what we've been working on. Teacher buds, did any of y'all head back this week? What are your lil artists creating? More deets on this projects soon. In the meantime, have a great week and I'll see you at the Apron Sew-Along!
Have y'all heard of International Dot Day? It's a celebration based around the Peter H. Reynolds' book The Dot. This book is a fantastic beginning-of-the-school-year book as it celebrates a young artist who once thought she was not. International Dot Day is September 15th and kids all across the globe are creating dots in celebration. We celebrated last year and got a great response from both the kids and adults. So we're back at it again this year. I'd love to hear if you and your student are celebrating and what they are creating in honor of Dot Day.
My first grade kids started painting during their first week of art. No sense wasting any time, right? These guys painted many a masterpiece in kindergarten so we didn't have to use too much time chatting about painting dos and don'ts. That totes had this. Instead we painted about our artist inspiration: Wassily Kandinsky and made concentric circles, aka circles that hug each other! More on what is to become of these paintings soon.
Cat's Butt Tuesday: If it's not the hubs doin' the photobombin', it's the cat. Here she is showing you her better side. top, shoes and skirt: vintage, thrifted; belt: Pin Up Girl Clothing
In second grade land, we are making reversible paintings on pizza rounds. I know, right?! I decided that we'd also use Kandinsky as our inspiration and remembered there being a REVERSIBLE KANDINSKY painting featured in the movie Six Degrees of Separation. And I was all I'M A GENIUS! Check out this clip:
Guess what I learned after doin' a wee bit of homework? Kandinsky never painted a reversible painting. GAH, what?! A movie LIED to me?! What'll I find out next, that there is no Wizard of Oz?! Aw, well. We're still making reversible paintings. Humph.
Kindergarten Wednesday: We had an invasion of the littles on Wednesday. I had two 45 minute classes of the just-turned-five-10-minutes-ago set and they were amazing! Seriously! We took a tour of the art room, learned the Word of the Day (deets to come), found that we are artists and that we were gonna create a sculpture! What I love about these little guys is their enthusiasm. It's like pure joy. I wish I could bottle it. Like, seriously, sometimes, I wish I COULD bottle it and put a cork in it but on this day, it was precious. sweater: thrifted; heart top: Target, last season; skirt and shoes: Anthropologie
Every the kids heard the word of the day, which was artist, we all gave a "whoop-whoop!". We took a ride on the art train, chugged around the room admiring everyone's sculptures and proclaimed each kid to be an artist...after which they received a "whoop-whoop!". Trust me, after 45 minutes of "whoop-whoop!" was I just about whooped out. Er, wiped out. Whatever.
The base for our sculptures were, you guessed it, a dot!
Thursday!: Did I tell y'all that I now have my 3rd and 4th for an hour after YEARS of 30 minutes?! You guys, it was amazing! In one fourth grade class we learned our word of the week, chatted about Kandinsky, played instruments, danced, painted, SPLATTER painted, cleaned up, read a book, played a game. Seriously. Every time I looked at the clock I was like, wait, we have more time! skirt, shoes and top: thrifted
Y'all aren't gonna believe this but I got all sorts of techie this week. Suriously. I showed a couple of Prezis (so fast, fun and easy to create! I use the art gallery template), played music via Pandora (after I complained that my CD player was broken, a 3rd grader said, "um, use your computer!" Duh.) and I made these super fun signs on recitethis.com. Y'all gotta check that out, it's the jam.
Fried-Day: Totes. I ain't used to this 5 days a week biznatch! Time to up the b-vitamin/caffeine/sugary-cereal intake. art supplies blouse: DIY here; pencil-y skirt: DIY here
Oh, well, lookie here. Don't worry, this didn't happen in the art room but in our kitchen on Saturday morning. I had this grand idea that I'd bake banana bread even though 1. I don't bake, I start fires (obviously) and 2. I don't even like banana bread all that much. Especially when it looks like chewed-up-spit-out meatloaf (which meatloaf already looks chewed up and spit out but I digress). When I opened the oven the flames were actually huge. I quickly closed the door and ran for my camera. As I ran by hubs who had this "what's that smell?! why are you running?!" look on his face I told him, "I know you smell smoke but don't worry. It's just breakfast. And the fire is self-contained". 

Looks like you'll never have to worry about finding any cooking posts on this hear blog, eh? I'll just stick with the stitchin' and teachin', thank ya vury much. Until next time, get that apron fabric ready, kids! And we'll chat soon. 

Thursday, August 14, 2014

In the Art Room: Gettin' Outta the Art Room!

Hiya, kids! I thought I'd share with y'all today some excitingness that has me busting outta the art room and hittin' the road. The CliffsNotes version is this:

* On Saturday, September 6th, I'll be leading a workshop at Cheekwood Botanical Gardens in Nashville. The workshop will coincide with Cheekwood's current exhibit of Andy Warhol's Flowers. We'll start the morning with a docent-lead walk through the exhibit and then jump right into printmaking, leaf relief sculpturing and some textile work that will involve my personal favorite: needle felting! The workshop fee is a mere $25 ($20 if you are a member of the Gardens). Spots are limited so if you are interested, go here, click the link and get yourself signed up. I can't hardly wait!

* On Monday, October 6th, I'll be speaking to the art ed students (and any folks who'd like to attend) at Bowling Green State University in Bowling Green, Ohio! Yeah, you heard me right. Here's how the talk is being described: 

A Bloggers Guide to Bringing Art to Life

Cassie Stephens graduated from Indiana University with a BFA in painting and an art education certification.  After student teaching in Ireland, she moved to Nashville, Tennessee where she has been teaching art to kindergarten through fourth grade students for the past 15 years. She is a blogger sharing her passion for bringing art to life.  This might be by dressing like Andy Warhol's Soup Cans or Vincent van Gogh's Starry Night.  She enjoys connecting with art teachers from across the world with her blog and will share examples of art projects that reflect this global outlook.

Wow. Totally freaking the funk out about this one! I'm so excited to chat with art ed students as well as anyone else that would like to attend. The talk will start at 5pm, is open to all and it's free (I'll share the exact location with you soon). Hope to see you there! 
But first, let's chat about this Cheekwood Adventure, shall we? I love Cheekwood, y'all. When I first moved to Nashville, I used to go, hang out in the gardens and attempt to paint. It's always gorgeous, peaceful and inspiring. A fellow art teacher buddy and I visited this summer to check out their current Big Bugs outdoor exhibit (although the million degree summer temps prevented us from lasting too long) the Andy Warhol's Flowers show.
I like Big Bugs and I cannot lie. Actually I freakin hate bugs of any size. This summer, a buncha buddies and I were waiting to eat at a restaurant (which I will not name but I also will not be eating at ever again) when a FREAKIN HUGE cockroach landed on my friend's shoulder. I was the only one that noticed the monster crawling on him and started screaming "Oh my gawd, OH MY GAWD," at the top of my lungs. Meanwhile, everyone else was trying to figure out what I was spazzing over because I was unable to say anything other than, well, oh by gawd. When the others finally noticed La Cucaracha, EVERYONE started screaming and jumping up and down until the poor beast was finally crushed. It was at that point that we noticed the ENTIRE restaurant had stopped and was staring in our direction. Awk. Ward.
See? I done tole you the gardens were beautiful! We'll be using both Andy Warhol's printed flowers as well as Cheekwood's real ones as our printing/sculpturing/felting inspiration.
Now, if y'all can't make it, you can always read all about the process of printing that we'll be doing here. This is actually one of my most visited blog posts and I think it's because the results look so stunning. I did this project with my lil 2nd grade friends and they rocked it. You can check out all the deets here. 

One printing process results in two amazing prints. I'm hoping we can print some flowers while we are at Cheekwood. Although, in the past, I've just used leaves as their flat surface doesn't puncture the gelatin printing plate. But it will be fun to experiment, so we shall see!
For our relief sculpture, we'll be creating these super groovy leaf and flower pieces. I have done this project with my 3rd grade friends and they always look rad. You can read about that project here if you wanna.
 In the afternoon, we'll be needle felting! I'm still toying with the idea of just what we'll be creating...but I'm excited about the possibilities! Of course, we just might have to felt some flowers. You might recognize these from my Felted Fiesta Frock with Ballz.
So! I hope to see y'all there! And my Ohio friends, I hope you'll join us at BGSU. Until next time, I hope you have a super fab week, y'all!