Thursday, August 30, 2012

In the Art Room: Welcome to the Jungle

During their first week in art class, all of the artists were asked to create a monochromatic self-portrait on a 3" X 3" piece of paper. I love how their excitement about the Parisian theme in my classroom inspired their work.
 Well, I thought I'd do something a bit different in this In the Art Room blog post. I usually wait until the kids have finished a masterpiece to share it with you. However, I just don't see a completed project in the very near future. You see, we are neck deep in self-portraits, passports, suitcases and airplane sketches. And just when I thought I might have that madness managed, the teeny tiny kindergarten artists invaded the art room. On top of all that, I went nuts and decided I needed to do some redecorating. Long story short, that's just real life in the too-many-things-going-on-at-once art room. And we really wouldn't have it any other way.

That being said, I will share these projects with you again once completed. Until then, here's a peak into the art room jungle. Enjoy!
In preparation for our art adventures around Europe, we've been chatting about what we would pack in our suitcase. Best item packed to date: "I'm taking nail polish and beauty products. I want to look good in Paris!"
If you are an art teacher that has been on pinterest for more than 5 minutes, then you've seen the Rainbow Self-Portrait mural. It's a stunner. We created one last year and it was a hit. This year I had the genius idea that we'd use the same concept but for a map of the world. The only prob? Self-portraits that need to be half land and water. That's been a bit tricky, but we're getting there.

Seeing photos of our school mascot Jes in front of the Eiffel Tower have us dreaming we were there. By the way, don't you love the design of this shirt with the cut-out shoulders? I think we may have a future fashion designer on our hands.
Passport Control: Creating these passports with the kids gave me a new appreciation for the hard work that our classroom teachers do everyday. We did a lot of writing which was a task for some. However, I never heard one complaint. They loved creating these little books. Our next step will be to stamp a golden eagle on the cover and add our first stamp (France!) to our passport.
We've even begun speaking a little French in art. We can actually have a little conversation! We've learned "Bonjour! Ca va? Bien, merci. Je m'appelle..." It's really quite fun.
And then there was kindergarten...I love them. Their first day in the art room was just last week. Already these little geniuses have begun creating paper sculptures. This project is a great on in that everyone is successful and just knows they are the best artist ever.
When I teach this lesson, I tell the kinders that they must take their strip of paper and give it feet so that it can stand. Once they have folded the paper and created feet, they tickle the feet with a little bit of glue that they paint on with brushes. I stopped using glue bottles years ago. I just got too stinkin tired of unclogging the things. So we keep our glue in little cups with lids and spread it on with old paint brushes.
Once they've mastered creating a curved line, I introduce zigzags and spirals. Our last addition to these sculptures will come on the final day: lines becoming shapes.
I have been in my beautiful classroom for years. I always take time to decorate my windows but I've always been at a loss as to what to do with my cabinets. Because I have many, I have to label them. And last year, I created a world wall with them. This year, I decided to decorate the back of the shelves with the elements of art.
This was so simple I couldn't figure out why it took me so long to come up with the idea. I simply measured the back of the cabinet, cut bulletin board paper to size and painted away.
I don't have enough cabinets for all seven elements of art so some were combined. These two seemed to make sense.
So there you have it. A Plate-Too-Full, Too-Many-Things-Happening, Busy-All-The-Time art room. Nothing short of tres chic!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

What the Art Teacher Wore #31

Forgotten Monday: Geez, it seems so long ago I hardly remember it. I'm standing in front of my Art History Wall and my Clean-Up Drums, courtesy of Fork's Drum Closettop: on a recent visit, my mother-in-law brought me a bunch of delightful duds from her friends. This sweet top was one of them. skirt: oh my, a new favorite. I scooped it up at this lovely etsy shop: Past Times Vintage; belt and shoes: sale, Anthropologie
Hi there, friends. This week in art teacher land was so busy it was just plain silly. I snapped about 400 photos of the kids for the faux passports they are creating; they completed their miniature self portraits for a group mural we are working on; we covered fire drills, tornado drills, how-to-make-Mrs.-Stephens-coffee-just-how-she-likes-it drills, you get the idea. My head is still spinning. But that may be from the kid who didn't quite have the coffee-to-sugar ratio down pat. Sigh. We'll get there.

This week I thought I'd share with you some details from these nutty outfits. And since I love pattern design in my clothing, I have included some of Raoul Dufy's textiles designs. You remember him...the dude I spent the last post cussing over. I just can't help it, he's that awesome. I hope you enjoy and we'll chitty-chat soon.
I love this pattern: the vintage suitcases, travel stickers, scale, destination signs. So clever.
A lovely print by Raoul Dufy, found here.
Poochie Tuesday: dress: Made by me; headband: Peachy Tuesday, created with fabric from the dress and vintage buttons, so cute!
Could this headband be any cuter? The kids loved it, thank you, Jen!
More Dufy goodness. I found many of these images on this lovely blog.
Bonjour, Wednesday: On this day, when we practiced for the fire drill, one of the kids lined up at the door that leads to the hall instead of outside. His reason: "The fire will probably be in here, with your kiln." I assured him that I would not be setting the school on fire anytime soon. His MacKayla Maroney face lead me to believe he wasn't buyin' it. beret: made by me; top: Anthro, gift from a friend; skirt: from the etsy artist PossessedN1.
I wish the fabric that was for sale these days looked more like this. If I had a clue about textile design, I might be inclined to create some of my own.
This Dufy design is a gouache on paper. That I understand. But to create textile patterns these days, you have to know how to scan and use computer programs that I haven't the foggiest ideas how to use.
First Day with Kindergarten Thursday: As if my room isn't enough of a distraction, I thought I'd jazz myself up as well. You know, so the wee ones won't be confused about what it is I teach: Crazy Kookiness. top: Target; shoes: made by me, tutorial here; skirt: made by me, tutorial here
A pencil hairclip? Really?! I know, I know. Sometimes I even embarrass myself.
I had visions that kindergarten would be a jungle of wild animals but there were...perfect! Such sweet little artists. Raoul Dufy, Jungle, printed cotton, 1920
A Rough Friday: I would compare this day to a pooh sandwich: the beginning and end were fine, but the middle really stunk. Sometimes it happens in the art room. AND this outfit was given an "eh" review by the kid critics. So harsh! Sweater, dress, owl sandals: Anthro sale room
Poodle pin, antique store.
Thankfully the weekend has been like a buncha roses with hubs and I hitting every estate, garage and thrift shop within a 60 mile radius. More on my finds soon. Lovely floral pattern by Dufy.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

In the Art Room: Jes in Paris!

La Tour Eiffel: The Eiffel Tower has got to be the most iconic symbol for Paris and France. Named after the engineer who designed and built the tower, Gustave Eiffel, The Iron Lady was the tallest structure in the world until 1930. That's when our Chrysler Building overshadowed her. The tower was built in 1889 for the entrance of the World's Fair. Do we still have those?
Well, would you look at who is in Paris, France! That's right, our school mascot Jes. In case you aren't in the loop, I created this little stuffed dude to take on my trip to Europe this summer. I snapped photos of him in Germany and the Netherlands with the intent of sharing his adventures with my students in art class. You know, like the concept of Flat Stanley. Only cuter. 

My students are currently creating passports in art class and packing their suitcases (which entails the kids writing an item on a  Post-It and sticking in our paper suitcase. Best one so far? "My family")  Our first stop? Well, if you've seen my art room, you know it's the City of Love.

In preparation for our adventures, I've been doing my homework. So I thought I'd share a little history behind each Parisian monument. I also rediscovered the art of my Favorite-Artists-at-the-Moment: Brothers Jean and Raoul Dufy.

Special thanks to Sophie who traveled with Jes and snapped all of these marvelous photos. And to Sandy, the wonderful parent that put me in touch with Sophie. Merci beaucoup!
 Raoul Dufy was the older and more famous of the two artist brothers. Raoul said:“What I wish to show when I paint is the way I see things with my eyes and in my heart.”  La Tour Eiffel, 1935
The Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Paris or Sacré-Cœur Basilica. This Roman Catholic church sits high on hill of Montmartre, a popular artsy district. Because of it's height, it can often be found in the background of paintings of Paris. In fact, I included it in my own Parisian landscape
L’église Saint-Pierre de Montmartre et le Sacré-Coeur, 1953, Jean Dufy. Both brothers were considered Fauvist painters. The Fauves, which included artists like Henri Matisse, where given their name by an unflattering critic that found their colorful style akin to that of a Wild Beast. These painters loved the term and it is now associated with their bright works.
Notre Dame de Paris translates Our Lady of Paris. This Roman Catholic cathedral suffered some damage during the French Revolution (gah, I just spent entirely too much time reading about that revolution, fascinating!). Thankfully it has been restored and it's one of the best examples of Gothic architecture.
You know those people that take great ideas and totally claim it as their own? Well, you do now. Meet Pablo Picasso. What a guy. Did he ever have a single original thought? Here is he doing is best Dufy brothers impression. Notre Dame de Paris, 1954
Statue Equestre d'Henri IV, Pont Neuf, Paris. Henri IV was one of the most popular of the French kings whose reign lasted from 1589 to 1610. Equestrian statues are quite popular everywhere. I've heard that “when one of the horse’s hooves is raised it indicates that the rider was wounded in battle, when both of the horse’s hooves are up it indicates that the rider was killed in battle and when all four hooves are on the ground, none of the above.” I'll have to do some digging to find out if this is true of Henri IV.
Raoul Dufy's La Vert Galant, 1926
Jes at L'Arc de Triomphe de l'Étoile. Designed by Jean Chalgrin in 1806, this monument honors those who fought and died in the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars.
So it turns out Raoul Dufy was also a textile designer. I can see that. And I see a pin board on his textile designs in my future. I absolutely love this chair, L'Arc de Triomphe, 1933
I know there are some serious mixed reviews of I.M. Pei's pyramid outside the Louvre, but I love it. I.M. Pei also designed the art museum at Indiana University (the best college on the planet...not that I'm biased or anything), so I have a soft spot.
Spring in Paris poster by Raoul Dufy. I was really hoping I'd come upon one of these on my garage and thrifting adventures. No dice.
Don't you just love this sweet photo Sophie captured? She did such an amazing job taking Jes around...I can't thank her enough! Not to mention how excited the kids are to see the photos and hear about his adventuring.
So while Jes is off galavanting around Paris, I'll just sit here and dream. About the sights, the sounds and what I'd wear. This adorable Dufy-inspired number outta do the trick. You can see it and more vintage goodness here, you like.
I hope you enjoyed this little history lesson. Putting this post together helped me learn so much more about Paris. Jes will next be traveling to sweet Katie over at The Little Red Squirrel in the UK! How exciting, thank you, Katie! From there, I'd love for him to travel to Italy...but I have no connections. If you happen to have a contact, I'd love to send Jes that way. Thank you!

Monday, August 20, 2012

DIY: The 1970's Dorky Teacher Skirt

Dying for a Double DIY? Here's how to paint your own Pencil Shoes!
 This past weekend's to-do list looked like this:

1. Mow the yard...nope, didn't do it.
2. Clean the house...I danced around with the Swiffer, which counts as cleanin' in my book.
3. Go for a run...naw, no one was chasing me so, why bother?

That's all I had to do this weekend. And I didn't even manage to get 50% done. Which kinda makes me sound like a slack-tastic slug. Unless you take into consideration that I did something that wasn't even on my list: I made the World's Dorkiest Teacher Skirt. That's right. I just turned that Slack-tastic into Tacky-tastic. Because it's what I do.
Please try to ignore the dust bunnies that my Swiffer Samba didn't pick up.
It all started with this 1970's wrap skirt I picked up at Goodwill years ago. Yeah, I said years. I don't get rid of anything. In fact, when I start cleaning out, I make huge stacks of things to donate...and then refold them and place them back in my closet. Where they belong. Along with my cassette tapes, my VCR and Richard Simmons workout videos. I'd laugh with you if I wasn't crying.

How I usually go about bringing my goofy ideas to life: I start with a sketch and just dive in. I find that if I spend too much time thinking an idea through, Sane Cassie will usually come to her senses and drop it. However, if I just go at it, Crazy Cassie can sometimes make it happen. Am I really talking about myself in third person? Isn't that what Sybil used to do...?
This skirt was actually inspired by my vintage palette and rainbow wrap skirts that you can see here. I didn't make either of those but I have done my share of applique in the past (check out my Rock Star Apron). You can applique on any ole sewing machine. It's just like collage with the stitching acting as your glue.
For the pencils (because I know you are dying to get your tacky on):

1. Pin your pencil drawing to some yellow fabric (I used a mustard yellow linen) and some facing. Cut it out.
2. Cut out shapes of eraser, the pencil ferrule (what you didn't know that's what the metal thingie was called?), the wooden tip and the lead.
3. Tack shapes down with stitch witchery (non-sewers, that's this magical stuff that will adhere fabric with just the heat of an iron).
4. Set your sewing machine to the zigzag setting. Now each machine is different as far as setting go. So you may have to uproot that manual you never read and give it a peak under "applique stitching". Trust me, your machine can do this. The applique is simply a very tight zigzag stitch.
Oh, look it's The Notebook. By the way, am I the last female on the planet that hasn't seen that movie? Yeah yeah, I get it, they're wearing vintage, it's romantic and (gasp!) Ryan Gosling is in it. But I just can't handle that much sap {shivers}.
The notebook was a snap. I doubled up the white fabric and adding facing to the back. Before adding it to the skirt, I stitched on the lines for the page and the little doodled heart. Once appliqued to the skirt, I added the spiral bound rings and the lines for the sheets of paper.
Before teaching art, I thought all #2 pencils were all alike. Oh contraire mon ami. The Ticonderoga big pencils are my personal fave in the art room.
Once the notebook was attached, I appliqued on the pencils. This part took a pinch longer because I wanted to match the applique thread with the colors of the pencil. Because I'm only detail oriented when it comes to the important things. Like applique. Remembering to drop by the bank, the post office and the grocery? Um, not so much.
I know it looks like a drag, but it really was just a matter of changing the thread out. The key to a clean applique stitch is making sure that your needle zigzags from the edge of your fabric to the inside.
Does it get any dorkier? Me thinks not.
The only thing missing is a pencil hair clip. Or a pencil beret. Perhaps a pencil sombrero? Always an option.
Please tell me this isn't my fate...but if I do get an itch, it's nice to know you can still buy sweaters like this here.

Now when Crazed Cassie was in the midst of whipping up this little number, she (okay, this is weird, I'm switching to first person), ahem, I asked hubs for some advice. He's like the Tasteful to my Tacky. 

So I inquired: On the notebook, do you think I should use black thread or gray thread for the heart doodle?

Hubs: I don't think you should put a doodle on the notebook.

Moi: Well, that wasn't really the question. Black or gray was my question.

Hubs: I have an idea, how about you stitch the alphabet on it? You know, like a capital A and then a lower case a and then a B and a C?

Moi: What?! That would make it look totally tacky!

Hubs: (exasperated "I-think-you've-already-reached-that-level" look).

Really? I don't know, let's do the math:

Two pencils plus one notebook and a heart equals Pretty Stinkin' Dorky.

Add in some pencil shoes and, yep, he's right Totally Tacky.

Well, if anything, at least I'm consistent. Now! Off to make a Pencil Hat!