Wednesday, October 30, 2013

DIY: Magritte Costume

 I hope your Halloween is a surreal experience! 

An official DIY post about this here get-up is in the very near future...but I'm guessing you now know who our Artist of the Month is!

 I actually wore this on Halloween Eve as it was: A. My day to be evaluated so why not? B. It's Spirit Week at our school, which I love but it was also Pajama Day and I didn't think wearing my pj's would be appropriate for my eval. Because there's just something about smelly sweats and a holey t-shirt that says "unprofessional" in my professional opinion. However, this proved to cause great confusion amongst the wee ones who kept inquiring: "Are those your pajamas?!"

Oh, and a funny side note about my evaluation (I'm in a chatty mood. Can you tell I'm in a chatty mood? Sorry, no one else will talk to me and you look like an easy target): I was observed with a normally chatty class that was creepily well-behaved and quiet. When their teacher came to pick them up, this happened:

Teach: How were they?

Me: Um, amazing! Like, kinda-freaking-me-out good. What did you say to them?!

Teach: Well, I told them that one of the principals would be in your room watching you. When one of the kids asked me if you might get fired if you didn't do a good job, I told them, "Well, that's not my decision to make..."

Bwahaha! It's nice to know the kids like me enough to keep me outta unemployment.

Until I get my official Artist of the Month DIY post together, you can check out my other artists dresses here: the Andy Warhol Soup Can Dress, The Jackson Pollock Splatter Paint Dress and Hokusai's Great Wave Dress.

Oh, and you can now find me on my Facebook page.

Happy Halloween!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

In the Art Room: Vicious Vikings!

If ever the words adorable and Viking could be used together in a sentence, it would have to be upon viewing these painted and collage-tastic works of art. I mean, just scroll down and take in the hilarity. Super-Awesome-Cuteness-Overload. With a touch of axe-wielding angst. The perfect combo for a Viking, says these first and second grade artists.

(hey. I'm whispering this to you. that's why it's in italics and lower case. all images of children that you see here are published with permission of viking parents. because i like my job and would prefer not to get fired.)
Now before I go into the details of this lesson, I have to give a big fat hairy shout out to my (sadly, former) student teacher Rebecca who taught these young artists as well as Laura of Painted Paper who inspired this lesson. Rebecca taught the first through fourth grade students a Viking unit based on her summer travels through Norway. You can see the third graders' Viking ship collages here. For the younger artists, she decided to create a lesson that turned the kids themselves into Vikings.

On the first day of the lesson, the kids painted the papers for their backgrounds. In one (insanely busy) half hour class, the kids chose one 12" X 18" piece of construction paper for the back ground and two pieces of 12" X 9" paper in white and green. And here's how it went down in bullet points. Because I love me some bullet points:
  • (oh, so pointy!) The kids began with the larger paper. Using a sponge the size of their hands, they stamped white paint all over the top half of the paper. Once finished, they chose a smaller sponge and two colors of their choice to blend into the white paint for their sky.
  • From there, the children moved onto the two smaller papers. On these, they were to use a dry brush technique with green, white and yellow.
All that in 1/2 hour. Hence the gray hairs
The following class, Rebecca showed the kids a Power Point (is that one word? Should it be in caps? Do I really care?) of her travels and the beautiful landscape of Norway in the summer. The kids were then shown how to tear each of their green painted papers lengthwise and glue them down. The trick to teaching this lesson is making sure that the children begin gluing the background land first and slowly work toward the foreground. I'm kinda in love with this collage technique. I used it here for our Paris collages and here for our Egyptian ones.
For the body and assorted details of the Viking, the kids created another piece of painted paper. I wrote an entire blog post about this process which you can read all about here, if you wanna.

Our end result looked a little like this. The side on the right was used for the body of the Viking. For this, the kids cut the entire painted paper in half, folded the side you see on the right in half and, along the fold, traced half of a Viking body template and cut it out. Now before you freak out because a template was used, lemme 'splain myself: 1. I have a half an hour. Sometimes short cuts are a necessity. 2. Folding the paper in half, tracing half a template, cutting and opening the paper to discover (surprise!) a whole Viking body is an excellent means of teaching symmetry.

As the children worked on that, Rebecca called the kids aside for their Viking photo-op. She took two photos of the kids: a picture day smile and a fierce Viking face photo. In the following class, the children were able to chose between the two.
At the start of the next couple of classes, Rebecca would introduce a new fact about the Vikings to the children. They learned all about Viking culture, clothing, the long ships and long houses as well as their fierce ways.

The kids learned that they'd have to create a helmet, shield, weapon and some clothing for their Viking. Oh and "weird animal skin shoes" as one student called them today.
One of my favorite things about these Vikings is how some appear to be missing some teeth! This Vike-ette musta been in some rough battles to get her teeth knocked out. Either that or she's from Kentucky (just kidding, Kentucky friends!).
Once the kids chose their photo, they carefully cut around their face and glued it to their body. Braids and beards were added with construction paper which is much easier than it sounds. For this, Rebecca and I split the boys and girls up so that we could give individual demos to each group. Once the hair stylings were complete, helmets were added.
The next couple of classes were spent collaging boots, belts, sheilds and, everyone's favorite weapons! Well, almost everyone's favorite. I did have two sweet students who asked if their Viking could be reading instead of wielding a weapon. What were they reading, you ask? One was holding a book titled "How to be a Good Viking." Adorbs.
Don't tell anyone but this Viking's face is secretly my fave. With his expression and that mustache, he reminds me of Salvador Dali, don't you agree? I love it.
As a wrap up, I asked the kids the following questions today: Who were the Vikings? What did they do? Where did they live? I jotted down their answers on the board and I was so proud of everything they had learned. I wish Rebecca could have been there, it was a happy teacher moment for sure. 

The students were to then write a small paragraph about their Viking. With the exception of the one that said his Viking "cills peepel" (yikes! Gonna do a rewrite!), what they wrote was so fun to read. Almost as fun as those Vikings themselves! 

In other news...I now have a Facebook page for this blog! You can go and like it (or not, be that way) here:

Because I'm super computer un-savvy, I've yet to figure out how to create a link on this blog to take you directly to my facebook page. My apologies. I blame my pea-sized brain. If any of you computer geniuses out there would like to offer some advice, I'll gladly take it. In the meantime, up there's the linky-loo, "like" if you like. And thanks for dropping by!

Sunday, October 27, 2013

DIY: Matching Monster-Mash Dress and Sweater

This is my sadistic Trick-or-Treat-If-You-Dare face. Although, five days a week, it's known as my Continue-to-Annoy-the-Art-Teacher-and-this-Smile-is-Gonna-Be-the-Last-Thing-You-See-Before-You-Enter-Timeout-Town. I blame said Town for the gray streak.
  Alright, I know what you're thinking: another Halloween DIY?! Um, yes. And a couple more to come. I know, I know. But before you think I'm employing a sweat shop in my sewing room (not a bad idea) or getting all jacked up on a candy corn/coke combo and working into the night (closer to the truth), lemme just put rumors to rest and tell you that this dress has sat finished (and unworn) in my sewing room for a coupla weeks. Mostly cuz, after putting in the final stitch, I tried the dress on and the words, "I hate this dress," came outta my mouth.
 Now when I spotted this monstrous fabric at Jo-ann's, I had to scoop it up because of it's retro-y awesomeness. This was after I made a vow at the start of September that I was Not Going to Make Another Halloween Dress. I mean, I made three last fall! That el Dia de los Muertos number, the Be-witched dress with that adorable Tammis Keefe-inspired fabric and the Horror Flick dress. A fourth dress was absolutely unnecessary! And, yet I found myself at the cutting counter loading up on a coupla yards. Because a vow made by me (even to myself!) is about as lasting as a fart in a windstorm.

After digging through my pattern stash, I settled on ole Simplicity 1803 which I've used more times than I can count. That pattern needs to be taken away from me -- it's like a bad boyfriend I just can't get away from. (My apologies, Brad Pitt, for bringing you into this blog post. But you know our relationship went on far longer than it should have. I just can't help that your enchantment for my good looks and charm was not reciprocated. Ole Ang will have to do.) 

 So sorry you had to witness that. Poor Brad.

Now, where was I? A fart in a break-up with Brad... hatred for this dress...ah, yes! That's it. When I got the fabric home and had settled on ole Simplicity, I decided to use black cotton on the side of the bodice as well as the back and the straps. I just thought that'd break up the pattern a bit as it's rather busy. But when all was said and done...I just had to shelf it and step away. I wasn't loving the dress and that bummed me out.
This fabric immediately had me singing Bobby "Boris" Pickett's 1962 chart topper Monster Mash. If I could get my mitts on that original album, that'd be totally Rad Pitt. By the way, this linky-loo is truly a monster mash of the best retro horror flicks ever made. Watch it.
I blame Jo-ann's and this adorable fabric for my vow-breaking. It really is all her fault. Darn that Jo-ann.
After a week-long pouting session that involved guilt-free retail therapy at the local thrift store, I came across this perfect snotty-green cardigan. I thought I could wear it over the dress and it might hide the bodice which was the source of my dress-hate. But first, I just had to felt-orize (you know, accessorize with some felt) the thing.
Like a real pro, I sketched directly onto the sweater with an ebony pencil (which, as it turns out, you can't erase for sh**) and commenced needle felting. By the way, it's nearly impossible to felt teeny-tiny details (which my subconscious kept telling me but I silenced that ole bag with a glass of wine or three) so I took to embroidering such small stuff as Drac's teeth, tie, facial features and outline.
You can clearly see the embroidery on Frank's face. I enjoyed this technique because the felt made the fabric stiff and easy to embroider. I'm definitely going to remember that for future felting/embroidering adventures.
Now, lemme interrupt this hear blog post so we can talk about My Hairs. I've mentioned before how I've gotten rather lazy with my hair stylings of late. Well, recently I received an email from the folks behind the website The Amazings. If you've not heard of it, The Amazings is a website that offers classes by mature and experienced artists with a multi-mission: Preserving knowledge. Celebrating handmade. Encouraging generations to collaborate. Sharing stories. We don't have one purpose. Our craft classes are a means to many ends.

Doesn't that sound...amazing?! Let me tell you, it truly is. I was generously offered Glamous Retro Hair Do's taught by hair stylist Michael. This course was broken into six separate mini-classes which demonstrated how to set and style three retro do's: a 1930's chignon, a 1950's rockabilly look and a 1960's Bardot style. I literally sat with a pencil and paper, took notes and made sketches, that's how informative I found this to be! For today's Bride of Frankenstein-esque look, I watched Michael demonstrate how to roll one's hair in rollers (correctly as I've been doing it all wrong!) and style to achieve a desired look. My favorite take-away tidbit was when Michael said you don't have to make your hair look exactly like some specific retro style but make it "your own interpretation." 

I'll be certain to try out more hair stylings in the future from this course and, when I do, I'll let you know. There are so many other amazing (sorry, I had to say it!) craft courses on this website, I'm excited to try some more.
 Once my felting was complete, I re-tried the dress on, added the sweater and belt and was...much happier, I gotta admit. Now I'm the proud creator of FOUR Halloween dresses. Surely there will be no need to make any more...(don't call me Shirley).

Until next time, I hope you have an exciting couple of days getting ready for the most spooky holiday of the year! I've got a costume to put together (hint: I'm dressing as this month's Artist of the Month!)...fingers crossed I finish in time. 

Are you dressing up? Whatcha gonna be? I'm dying to know! Oh...Brad's IM'ing me...again...gotta run!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

DIY: Haunted Mansion Pants

Welcome foolish mortals, to the Haunted Mansion! 

I am your host...your ghost host. Hmm hmm hmm hmm. Kindly step all the way in please and make room for everyone. There's no turning back now. Muhahaha...(cough)...ha!

Okay, non-Disney geeks, if you have no earthly idea what in the world I am talking about then you lead a Haunted-Mansion-deprived life. Which is a cryin' shame because it's simply the best theme-park ride ever. Although hubs argues that Space Mountain is better but he's also the dude I witnessed pour maple syrup on his salad the other night ("what, we're out of salad dressing" was his response to my look) so I don't know if his opinion is to be trusted. You just take my word, The Haunted Mansion is a classic.
Now there are a total of five locations of Disney parks world wide: two in California, six in Florida, two in Paris, one in Hong Kong, two in Japan and some craziness they are currently building in Shanghai which is slated to open in 2015. Since the Haunted Mansion is considered a classic, it makes an appearance at every park even if it goes by a slightly different name (Phantom Manor in Paris and Mystic Manor in Hong Kong). I've been to the Mansions in California, Florida and Paris (see here) and the ride is pretty much the same at each but the exterior of the houses are different. My fave is the one above at Disneyland in California which has a New Orleans theme.
Ah! There you are! And just in time! There's a little matter I forgot to mention. Beware of hitch-hiking ghosts! Ha ha ha ha! They have selected you to fill our quarter and will haunt you until you return. Now, I will raise the safety bar and a ghost will follow you home! Ha ha ha ha ha!

So the ride is narrated by the aforementioned ghost host who is delightfully well-mannered and creep-tastic. If you are a total Disney dork like myself, you've managed to memorize quite a few of his catch phrases and can quote them to the unfortunate souls that read your blog. My apologies. 
The best part of the ride is simply taking in the mansion itself. As you enter the house in your "doombuggie", the first stop is the parlor which is pretty famous for it's spooky wall paper...
which I seriously love. I need some fabric just like this in my life!
Spook-a-licious, no?
So when I found these damask skinny pants at Target for under $10, I scooped them up with the idea of turning them into my own Haunted Mansion Pants. So frightening they'll scare the pants off of... you! Wait, what are those, grannie panties?! For the love of all things, put your pants back on! This is a blog, not a strip club, geesh!

Okay, now that we're all traumatized, lemme attempt to continue. I dunno if you know this about me, but I kinda sorta never wear pants. I've said it once, I'll say it again: They touch me in weird places and make me uncomfortable, kinda like my hubs. And skinny pants?! Don't even bet me started. BUT for the love of all things Haunted Mansion, I just knew I had to have these and give 'em the ole felted creepy eye.

 Which was so super easy. I happened to have black and white wool in my stash. I simply placed my felting needle mat inside the pants, placed the white wool in the area of where I wanted an eye and commenced punching with the needle. If you have no clue what I'm talking about, you can check out my last felting project here which lists some more detailed blog posts. Also, do some youtubing. It's where I learn everything. Like how to spin cat hair into yarn. What?! Yeah. Everything.

Finished result. I decided to NOT felt any eyes onto my backside...because it just seemed weird. Like the eyes on my butt should have a caption that read, "What are YOU lookin at?!" But it would be pretty awesome to able to brag "I've got eyes on the back of my...a$$." Well...on second thought, maybe it wouldn't. Regardless! I didn't do it. Mostly because I was all felted out.
Haunting Outfit Details: necklace: vintage, gift from a friend; sweater: Anthro label, bought at Buffalo Exchange; damask skinny pants: Target, clearance rack (do they have other racks there!?); shoes: Miss L Fire
And there you have it! Spooky Haunted Mansion Pants! 

By the way, I decorated the daylights out of mi casa this weekend for Halloween (I know, with only a week left, I'm a genius) so I'll give you a ghastly ghostly tour soon! Until then...

Hurry back...hurry back...don't forget your death certificate!

Monday, October 21, 2013

DIY: A Hoot of a Sweater (and Other Terrible Owlish Puns)

Owl-fit, I mean, OUTfit details: sweater: thrifted, Target label, DIY by moi; dress: BCBG; belt and tights: Target; boots: Buffalo Exchange; vintage glasses: ebay; crinoline: costume shop
Ya'll know I'm just like Britney Spears, right? Not so much the whole mini-school-uniform/crazy-shaved-head Britney Spears. Naw, ya'll. I'm more of the "Oops, I Did It Again" variety. And by "it", I mean I felted a sweater...again. Cuz that's totes what Brit was talkin' about...right?

HOLY MOLY! I interrupt this blog post and these ridiculous references to Britney Spears to inform you of what just went down while I was typing the above mess. I heard this ever-so-quiet lapping sound coming from the kitchen. I assumed it was this girl getting a drink of water...but the lapping went on far too long and my cat is not a heavy drinker (unlike her owner. Kidding! Ish). I decided to check in the kitchen and that's when I found my cat, Asha, planted face first in the large pan of lasagna I'd cooked for supper. That fat cat just ate about $4 of buffalo mozzarella off the top! She's currently happily licking her chops and cleaning her paws while hubs is putting the lasagna back in the oven to cook off her "kitten germs". Because that's how much that man loves lasagna. Me on the other hand? I'm just glad to know that if hair is found in the food, it won't be mine for a change. 

So! Now you know why this isn't a food blog. On with the DIY!
As ya know, this isn't my first trip down the Anthro-Copycat Road. There's my very first felted copy here; this felted floral number that was a rip off a $200 sweater; and this look where I copied both the sweater and the skirt. So I'm kinda an idea-steal-aholic when it comes to Anthro-land. Which I'd apologize for if it didn't save me One...Million...Dollars (said Dr. Evil style, pinky to corner of lip).
Just like so many other of my felting adventures, this one began with a trip to Anthropologie where I spied this kinda lame owl sweater. I mean, come on, Anthro. Is this really the best you got? And for $98? Do you even know how much buffalo mozzarella that'd buy my cat?! She'd be set for at least a week or two.
Since I loved this felted idea but not the execution, I decided to diverge from the Anthro design and come up with my own. Now I know there are these smart people called scientists out there who might inform you that there are many different species of owls. But you don't need no Bill Nye to tell you what they are because you have me! I did all the intense research and discovered that there are three types of owls out there. I present to you The Voluptuous Hooters Owl, That A-Hole Tootsie Roll Owl and, finally, The Ever-Informative Trip Advisor Owl. You can thank me later.
The Voluptuous Hooters Owl. Oh my how she tempts you with her...wings! Yeah, right. Guys, no wife believes you when you say you go there for the wings. But it's cool. We're just glad you're outta the house while we go on an internet shopping bender, amirite ladies? 

Okay, seriously, I knew when I drew my owl, I couldn't have it resemble the icon of my former employer (...did you believe me...!? Didn't buy it for a second, did you? Humph). I mean, it's actually not the whole boobs-in-your-face thing that bothers me, it's that terrible outfit complete with those uber tan tights and bright white scrunchie socks. What is this, 1984?! Although, I'm willing to put money on it that if ole George Orwell had witnessed this version of 1984, he might not have been so down on the future. And that, my friends, is the only literary reference you are ever likely to read on this blog: a connection between Orwell and Hooters. Again, you're welcome.
That A-Hole Tootsie Pop Owl. Look, all that naked kid with the ear that looks like a smooching pair of lips wanted to know was, say it with me, HOW MANY LICKS DOES IT TAKE?! I mean, it's a darn good question! So who does he turn to for the answer? An owl wearing glasses and a graduation cap (which is how you know he's smart, duh), that's whoooo. And that jerk face eats his Tootsie Pop! Which was pretty much the last Tootsie Pop ever consumed after the invention of Blow Pops. I knew I just couldn't have that mean-a## owl on my sweater.
The Ever-Informative Trip Advisor Owl. So I began to draw my own owlish version knowing what I didn't want my owl to resemble. Unfortunately, without my even thinking about it, I ended up creating pretty much the Trip Advisor Owl. For which I'm totally expecting royalties. Yo, T.A.O., why you no text me back for my addy? I need to pay off these interweb-shopping-bender bills!
Once I had my drawing created, I cut out just the eye shape and pinned it to my sweater. Then I went with a similar method that I used when creating this cat sweater: I needle felt outlined my drawing in 100% wool yarn and proceeded to fill it in coloring book style. For an intro into the wild world of felting, go here.
So after the first go-round of felting, my sweater looked like this: The Hooters Owl chocking on a yellow-haired troll doll. Not the look I was going for.

The next day, I got up and altered the eyes a bit, added the "horns" and beak and was feeling a little better. Until I suddenly noticed the strong resemblance to the Trip Advisor Owl.
To add the bow-tie, cuz this wise owl was gonna have a tie, not some stupid graduation cap and glasses like ole Tootsie Pop, I decided to go with a stencil method. I laid the paper where I wanted the tie to go...
Laid the felt on top and commenced punching with my felting needle...
Which looked a little like this when I was finished.
The wings were created with the same outline-and-fill-in method.
And, to give a little shout-out to the Hooters Owl, I added feathers to the chest which I like to refer to as the owl's many boobies. Because that's what they are. Bill Nye told me.
And there you have it! An owl-tastic DIY that will leave your friends asking "Whooooo made that sweater?!" and "Wow, you're so talented, I just wanna hooot and h-OWL!" That is if you're friends are the really annoying pun-tastic kind. Which, if that's the case, I think it's time to look for new friends. Until next time (which will be soon as I have a million Halloweenie DIY's to share! And by a million, I mean three so brace yo'self), keep your Tootsie Pops away from a-hole owls!