Wednesday, August 28, 2013

DIY: Embossed Ceramicness

So I might be having a little bit of a love affair with pale-sky-aqua blue, faded-rose pink and, well,  pastels in general. Proof of such here and here.
Sometimes when people are inclined to talk to me (which I don't recommend to the easily offended, annoyed or grossed out by stories involving pants wetting accidents and pee puddles [which, btw, is up next on this blog post menu]), they ask me stuff. Stuff that leads me to believe that they must read my blog and assume the following:

1. That I make stuff all the freaking time.

2.  That I also dress like a moron all the freaking time.

One of these things is as false as Miley Cyrus virginity rumors. Can you guess which?

If you guessed the first then, ding-ding-ding!, you are correct! Congratulations! You win absolutely nothing but my utter respect at your guessing skillz. Really. I mean, you should consider joining the circus and being one of those weight-guessing people. I hear the pay is incredible. 

Which means the crazy notion that I'm a making-stuff-maniac is totes false, ya'll. Truth be told, I spend entirely too much of my life online googling things like "dorky art teacher clothes" (can you guess whose mug pops up first? Use those expert guessing skills of yours...) and chatting up long lost buddies on Facebook. Which is what I was doing last night when a class photo from elementary school was posted. Next thing I know, it's past midnight and I've been reminiscing about favorite teachers and crazy classmate antics with people I've not spoken to since the 5th grade. Time well spent for sure. Meanwhile, my sewing projects/unglazed ceramic pieces/half finished paintings of nude leprechauns (just seeing if you were paying attention) are left collecting dust. Das my life for realz, ya'll.
I've also got this terrible habit of starting something and then callin' it quits midway through. Sometimes I return to said DIY -n- Ditch but it's often weeks, nay, months later. Case in point: my Embossed Ceramicness. Last November I attended the annual state art conference in the town of Gatlinburg, Tennessee where the allure of the airbrushed t-shirt never dies. I took a course that involved this pretty sweet process of using your printing block as a ceramic embosser. I began by creating the above masterpiece.
And transferring the design to my linoleum block. This was done by scribbling on the back of my drawing, taping the drawing to my block and then going back over my pencil lines. At this point the carving commenced.
This squirrel-tastic block was carved by my awesome art teacher buddy Mallory. One of the things I love about attending these workshops is you get to hang out with your favorite artsy friends. And you make so many new buddies who do a much better job at commiserating about life in the art room than, well, your hubs. Cuz new art teacher friends don't get that glazed-over "is this gonna be another kid peeing themselves story?!" look like that dude who lives in my house and breathes my air. Nay (yeah, I just used that word twice in one post like a boss), new artsy buddies slap you a high five and commend you for your tales of how you turned lemons into lemonade. Or, rather, puddles of pee into a "Pond, kids! Don't step in the pond because you don't want to get wet!" (this actually happened...which was met with a "Yeah, cuz that pond is PEE!" by a dear kindergartener).
One friend I made at an art conference years ago has since become a dear friend of mine. Her name is Debbie and she carved this block which I'm thrilled to say I have a ceramic copy of. I can't wait to get it glazed and out for Halloween. I'll be sure to share it with you soonish.
Okay, where was I? Ah, yes, the carved block. Is it any wonder I don't finish much? I can't even stay focused on one lil blog post! Once the carving was finished, a slab of clay was placed over it. That was either rolled out or run through a slab roller. From there we had the option of turning our embossed piece into a vase, a mug or a slab. I did a little of each.
And that was way the flip back in November. It wasn't until recently that I busted out the glaze and forced myself to finish these pieces. The completed slab in the top photo was mounted onto a wooden flower box.
While these lovelies have found their home at my front door. Finally. After months of hanging out in the Land of Forgotten DIY's, they are now complete. Who woulda ever guessed I'd get 'em done?! Well, you, of course. What with your intuitive guessing skills and all.

Until next time, friends, STAY AWAY FROM YELLOW PUDDLES! 
And have a great holiday weekend.

Monday, August 26, 2013

What the Art Teacher Wore #74

Wearing Red Monday: Okay, lest you think I force my amazing student teacher to wear certain attire, it was Color Week in Kindergarten-land. Hence the Red. But don't hold me to that not-telling-her-what-to-wear bit. Because once she got her lessons planned, corresponding outfits were the next step. As it should be, right? (Although, I'm just gonna out myself and say that there might have been one or twenty occasions where the outfit came first and the lesson second. It's called priorities, peeps.) my dress: DIY here; shoes: Crocs; belt: Pin Up Girl Clothing. I'll do better this upcoming week finding the source of Rebecca's attire.
Well, look, ya'll! I've got a partner-in-art-teaching-crime! Meet Rebecca Tenpenny, student art teacher extraordinaire*. I'm so thrilled to have Rebecca in my art room for the next several weeks (ya'll, she's already teaching! How awesome is that?!). The units she has planned are so exciting that I almost can't wait to see the finished result...but I have a feeling that the process is going to be so stinkin' fun that I'm trying to pace myself. And, yes, I am torturing her with outfit photos...the above being our first attempt. We were going for some sort of sorority girl pose and ended up doing the kindergarten "I-Gotta-Use-It" stance. I'd say the photos get better...but as you'll see, they, um, don't. 

One of Rebecca's lessons is based on the artist Andy Warhol. Oh, Andy. How I loved you in high school (and still do, don't get me's just that Andy was my first artist love). I had The Velvet Underground on replay, demanded a subscription to Interview magazine for Christmas and copied so many of his prints that I coulda been dubbed Andy Wanna-be. So I'm stoked about this project the kids will be doing. Art teacher buddies, what Warhol-inspired lessons have you done with your students? Lemme know cuz I totally wanna steal them.

Until we chat again, later, dudes!
Andrew Warhola (that's right, did you know there used to be an "a" at the end of that name? After it was once misspelled without an "a", Warhol decided to go with the change) was the youngest of four boys born in 1928 in Pittsburgh. His parents were immigrants from Slovakia. As a young boy, Warhol developed this illness that caused skin pigmentation blotchiness. For that reason, dude spent a lot time bedridden, surrounded by his sketch books, magazines of movie stars and the company of his mother. Later, Warhol would call this the period of his life where he developed as an artist.
Another constant during his childhood was the entertainment of the radio. I can only guess that many commercials lead to his interest in popular culture as that was the world he was surrounded in.
When the kids were looking at these works of art by Warhol today, they were asked "What do you wonder...?" To which one girl replied, "I wonder if there are sparkles in those cans! Or paint!" To which another said, "Um, I think it's soup. And he really likes it."

Mellow Yellow Tuesday: So Rebecca's got this super awesome last name: Tenpenny. It's received a lot of feedback from the kids. My fave was when Rebecca asked the kids just how much ten pennies would be. One second grader replied, "It would be one dime. And we can't call you Miss One Dime because that would be ridiculous." So true. dress: vintage Swirl dress I got for cheapish; flower: made by me; shoes: Shoe Carnival
Lou Reed and Nico? Seriously? Does it get any better when you are a wannabe beatnik/hippie high schooler? Warhol managed the band and they were the house band during The Factory era.

Geez, love this album. Uprooting it tonight.

Feeling Blue Monday: Okay, more like feeling black and blue due to the beating the kindergarten gave us. Granted, it was their first day ever in art...and I have them for 45 minutes at a time...AND I had three said 45 minute classes back-to-back (which had me and Rebecca doing that "I-Gotta-Use-It" pose by the end). But still. They. Ate. Our Lunch. Not gonna happen this week. Oh no. We have plans to divide, taser and conquer (kidding! ish.) dress: vintage, Buffalo Exchange; palette pin: gift from a friend; shoes: BC Shoes, old

Speaking of The Factory, Warhol's famous studio that brought together all walks of life, what would you pay to be a fly on the wall at one of those bashes? I'd like to think that only the coolest and most intelligent and funny walks of life hung out here...which I'd also like to think wouldn't mean the likes of some twerkin' Miley Cyrus. {shudders}.
I gotta tell you, while I'm fascinated with Warhol, the ideas behind his work and that whole era of awesomeness, I don't think I like Warhol as a person. From what I've read, he would love you (figuratively, in the case of Edie Sedgwick) then leave you. Once you boosted his ego and celebrity status, he was done with you. That doesn't sound like the kinda person I'd wanna call a friend. 
Green Day Thursday: I have another "Tenpenny"ism. After introducing herself, one of the kids asked, "Doesn't she have more than ten pennies?" which Rebecca replied, "No, I'm a teacher." So true. dress: vintage, thrifted
But there are a lot of artist jerks in the world (and just jerks, period)...and that doesn't lessen the impact a dude like Warhol had. I mean, the guy practically invented Pop Art (with a lil help from Lichtenstein, Rauschenberg and Oldenburg), there's no denying his genius.
Okay, I was disappointed that several classes didn't know who this was. I mean, c'mon, we live in Tennessee! It's Johnny Cash, ya'll (...just kidding! I know it's Bob Seger.)
Orange You Glad It's FRIDAY?!: Ya'll, I love teaching. But, honestly, these last three weeks have been the longest known to man, not gonna lie. dress: The Limited; belt: gift from a friend; necklace: Target; crinoline: thrifted
Can I just tell you that after a great little discussion about Warhol that totally impressed me, I called on a hand-raiser only to be asked, "Is he about to pick his nose?!" Yeah. That's it. Way to dash my hopes and dreams, ya'll. Although, you gotta admit, it does kinda look like it...
* I'll have you know that Rebecca's not my first incredible student teacher. I had the Amazing Carly B. several years ago and the Talented Lauren Reese just last year. You can see what Lauren and I wore here.

Monday, August 19, 2013

What the Art Teacher Wore #73

Trip-Takin' Monday: Since we'll be traveling to Asia this year, I decided to break out my Suitcase Skirt for the occasion. Also because, let's fact it, I've got a lot of baggage. skirt: vintage, etsy; blouse: gift from a friend; belt: Pin Up Girl Clothing; shoes: thrifted Crocs (I know, hard to believe)
What's up in your world, ya'll? Dudes, I've got my feets up and an ice cold...water (sadly) so life here is practically perfect. Today marked the first day for my super student teacher to enter the wild world of art teaching and I couldn't be more excited. Stay tuned for next week's outfit posts that will also feature her groovy looks...just don't tell her about it. She doesn't have a clue that I've been snapping her picture whilst pretending to hold the camera in her direction and mutter, "I wonder what this button does." Silly student teacher.

And speaking of teaching, since seeing me in this get-up, my students have now been learning all about the history behind the kimono. It's quite fascinating so I thought I'd share it with ya'll this week. Until next time, have a fantastic-ish week and I'll talk to you sooner than you'd probably like.
So originally "kimono" was the Japanese word for clothing. Of course now we know it to look a little something like this. This style of kimono came about more than a thousand years ago. Their popularity came into play partly because they are so stinkin easy to stitch up. Known as the straight-line-cut method, it involved simply cutting the fabric in straight lines and stitching them together. This method also meant that the kimono is one-size-fits-all and no tailoring is required.
The Great Wave Tuesday: My students are also learning about ole Hokusai who, apparently, changed his name up to 25 times during his life including a Japanese name that translated to "Old Man Crazy about Drawing". Gotta love an artsy fart with the ability to laugh at his craziness. dress: made by this crazy, DIY here; shoes: Payless

Sadly, it seems that kimono making is a dying art. Hundreds of years ago, thousands of Japanese people were in the kimono making business as it was what was worn daily. Currently only a handful of families craft kimonos with many of those craftsman being elderly. It's sad to think that the art of kimono making is literally a dying one.
First Day O' Kindergarten: This year I have my wee friends for 45 minutes at a time and I'm pretty excited. Once we get past that monkeys-on-crack phase I think we'll be good. Ish. I mean, there is something to be said about teaching a roomful of Crack Monkeys...right? skirt: etsy; top: thrifted; crayon shoes: DIY here; primary colored necklaces: thrifted finds

Traditionally crafted kimonos, from the silk cocoon to the final product involve more than 1000 processes carried out by different craftsmen. Each of these artists learned their crafts from the generations before them...which makes it so sad to think of this art as being lost. At one time, kimonos were worn by every class of people from samurai to aristocrats to the working class. When I was in Japan several years ago, it was rare to see anyone wearing a kimono and the thrift shops were filled with these beautiful robes.
Pencil Me in Thursday: I know, dorkiness abounds. But are you really surprised? pencil skirt: DIY here; top and sweater: Target; shoes: Swedish Hasbeens, Anthropologie sale!
Beautiful, right? Many Japanese are very aware of the change of seasons and love to celebrate it. One way of doing so is to have a kimono that showcases each season. I love this idea and have decided to expand my kimono-wardrobe. Cuz that's just what my overcrowded closet needs.
Friday, Where You Been?!: Kay, not gonna lie, the last two weeks have felt pretty stinkin' long. Which is entirely my fault, too many late nights and early risin's. Would love to say Ima gonna work on that but I just can't make any promises. There's just not enough time in a day, ya'll! skirt: etsy (if you type in "Dorky Art Teacher Clothes", you'd be amazed at what you'd find!); blouse: thrifted; shoes: Payless; palette hair clip: made by me
There are many parts to dressing in traditional Japanese attire beyond the kimono. That giant belt is called an obi which, from the front, you would see has a smaller cord belt wrapped around it called an obi-jime. Those wooden-heeled shoes are called geta and are worn with toe-socks called tabi. And if you look closely, you'll see what looks like another kimono under the ones worn by the ladies above. That's actually a collar called a han'eri. Of course the back of the kimonos is worn low across the neckline to showcase the beauty of the neck.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

In the Art Room: The First Days of Art Class

Konichiwa'ing and bowing to "Sensei Stephens"...a girl could get used to this. Unfortunately, I can't seem to train the hubs to do the same.
Konichiwa, ya'll!
 I don't know about you, but I am always super curious how teachers begin their school year. Since I just finished seeing all of my first through fourth grade classes for an hour this rotation (I see my students for a 1/2 hour twice every six days. Yeah, I'm just as confused as you are), I thought I'd share with you the first days of art class. Not included in this episode of In the Art Room is kindergarten-town. Because they start a little later than the rest, I only saw one class this week...and I tend to do things a little differently with them (read: whatever I can manage to do with a herd of cats, er kids, in one session).

On the first day of art class, I greeted my students outside my room wearing my kimono. We chatted briefly about how we would be studying the art of Asia this year beginning with Japan. They learned that whenever they are on a red line (one outside my room as you can see below, one in my room where we line up and another set where we sit on the floor) they are to be "samurai silent". I then told them how to say hello in Japanese and how to bow to show respect. Which is what's goin' down in that top photo.
My Samurai Silent line.

Once we entered the art room, following another red line, I asked the kids if they could tell me anything that was different about my room. Keep in mind, the last time they saw my room, it looked like this...and now it looks like this. From there, we gathered on the floor in "Japan".  I used the yellow map to remind them the name of our continent, the continent we studied last year and the continent of Asia. 

I chatted with the kids about my trip to Japan several years ago (I did the Japan Fulbright Memorial Fund program which I cannot recommend enough. It was such a wonderful experience. You really outta do it). They learned that children in Japan are very much like them, including their style of dress. However, on special occasions, folks do wear a kimono. I chatted about my kimono, the obi (that giant belt) and my geta (the wooden shoes I'm wearing).
I know what you're thinking: You didn't talk about RULES on the very first day?! I'm getting to it! But c'mon. On the first days of school, it's nothing but rules and procedures and blahblahblah. Not only that, but I've been these kids' art teacher forever. We kinda sorta got this. That being said, after 10 minutes of chatting about Japan, I did have the kids move to this part of my room, take a seat on the floor so we could discuss...Art Class Rules.

Now, before they ventured to that part of the room, I asked them to go shopping at The Store for a piece of newspaper. The Store is simply the supply-gathering table I have set up in my room. You can read more about that here.
Okay, so you mighta noticed I'm wearing a different kimono. I'd accidentally left my other one at home that day and was left using my thrift store kimono.
Once seated on the floor with our newspapers, I went through the roll and greeted each student with a "konichiwa!". This gave them the opportunity to not only practice their konichiwas but to also learn my name if they were a newbie.
Five minutes later we got around to the rules. Now just to spice things up a bit, I like to use my sound machine when chatting about something that might otherwise be monotonous. This little gadget has 16 different awesome sound effects from a scream (to demonstrate what I might sound like if a rule is broken) to a round of applause for awesomeness. Consequences to not following rules are also discussed. Behind my rows of seated kids, I've got two red X's that are my designated time out spots. Students are to stand and face me when in time out so they can still hear instructions but no longer (er, hopefully) disrupt the group. Now, I'm not gonna lie, I've had my share of office referrals. But it's rare so I don't chat about it much.
When all that's covered, we get to our Very First Art Project! After teaching for a million (okay, 15) years, it's one thing that I've found drives the kids nuts on the first day: not getting to "do art". So I always try to include a little something. On the first day, we spent the last 5-7ish minutes making origami hats. I used this as a chance to really emphasize the rules: If you "listen carefully" then you'll be able to "follow directions. Origami can be confusing, so "try your best". "Be kind" to your friends, lend a hand if they need help. And that wrapped up our very first 1/2 hour session.
For our second 1/2 hour session, we practiced our samurai silent business and got our seats in art class. I have six tables with four chairs at each. Every table has a color and every seat has a number. Each student was instructed where their spot was (I'm a believer in assigned seats with an even ratio of boys/girls and positive peer grouping). I told them that we were going to play the Painting Game. Once they were given their seats, they were told to put on the apron that was on the back of their chair, don't touch the paint and wait for everyone to get their seat.
So the Painting Game was just a fun way for us to review proper painting procedures, review the elements of art and have fun. I would draw a number and then either a line or a shape and the kids were to paint it. I reminded them that our paint brushes are like ballerinas: they ALWAYS dance on their tippy-toes. They never EVER scoot around on their bottom. Because that's bad for the bristles and just plain weird. I mean, who ever heard of a butt-scootin-around ballerina?!
After a couple rounds, the kids swapped paint cups and brushes with their neighbors. We talked about the principals of art by chatting about variety, emphasis and all that other groovy goodness.
I changed out the table coverings at the end of each day which means these papers got pretty well covered. The kids were responsible for enhancing the painting that was already before them...which was a struggle for some. However, they all seemed to enjoy their painting time and were eager to do it again. Which we won't be anytime soon because we have a million other projects to get to...but I didn't tell them that. By the way, these paintings will be used as a backdrop for another project I'll share with you soon.
To wrap up the Painting Game and chat about what we learned, we lined up and played The Smartest Artist. More on that game here.

This is actually a photo from last year...I just didn't manage to snap one while we were playing this week. I quizzed them on the elements of art, the primary colors and the names of lines. After that, we bowed and said sayonara before exiting.
And there you have it! One hour in the art room, broken down into two classes. Every time I see these guys, I'll be covering a new routine and procedure (next up, safety drills) but I gotta break it up a bit with some fun. For my sanity and theirs. Teacher friends, how do you approach your first days of school. There's just so much to cover, the fun never ends. Thank goodness Friday comes once a week and saves the day, right?!
And now it's time to announce the Winner Winner Chicken Dinner! Debi! Congrats, girl! I can't wait to send this crayon-goodness your way and see what amazingness you create.