Tuesday, December 31, 2013

DIY: 13 Favorites of 2013

Happy New Year, you crazy kids! I hope you rang in the new year in style...which, if you're like me, that meant recovering from a backpacking trip your hubs dragged, er, took you on. That's right, after I gifted him these paintings, he decided that a camping adventure was in order. Mind you, it's winter here in Tennessee and the evening forecast was about 29 degrees. I don't know if that's cold to you, but for me, the person who stays under her electric blanket (perfect present, Diana!) with at least 3 space heaters aimed in her direction at all times, that's pretty chilly. I'll share that experience with you in an upcoming post (cuz I know you're dying to hear all about it) but until then, I thought I'd give ya my 13 favorites of 2013! 

Now last year at this time I shared my 12 faves of 2012 and I really enjoyed looking back on my year. This year meant a lot of new crafting, art room and travel adventures. So without further jibber-jabber, I present to you my 13 Faves of 2013!
 1. Going to Paris ranks at the top of my favorite things about this year. After teaching about Europe (with a focus on Paris, France) all year in the art room, I was thrilled to have the chance to spend a week there. This photo was actually taken on the day we landed and zipped right over to the Arc. I may have cried a pinch here ... and at the top when I got a good view of the Eiffel Tower. It was just too beautiful for my tired jet-lagged soul to take without shedding a tear or three.
I think I took exactly 500 photos while I was there. You can read more about my adventure here. I'd love to go back; there were just so many things to see and do.
2. Going to Germany to attend the wedding of some friends was also one of my favorite things. We flew into Nuremburg from Paris at which point my hubs took the rental car to the Germany company he works for which left me stranded in the city for several hours. This really pushed my big girl limits as I had to figure out how to navigate that foreign city and find my way back to the town where we were staying. Turns out clicking your heels and whispering "there's no place like Neustadt an der Aisch" only works in the movies.
3. I began my love affair with needle felting this year. It all started when I spotted a certain dotted sweater at Anthropologie and was inspired to create my own version. I've become so addicted that there currently isn't a sweater in my wardrobe that isn't DIY'ed. Le sigh.

Of course I had to felt a bird on it. Details on the sweater on the left here and the one on the right here.
This sweater was (at the time) the most time consuming...although I'm currently working on a felted number that's gonna put all these bad boys to shame. I'm hoping to have that one to share with you next week.
I felted my cat Asha looking dapper and created another Anthro knock-off but putting my own spin on it with a Christmas theme.
4. I had the privilege of working with the awesome Rebecca Tenpenny this year. In case you don't recall, she was my super duper student teacher that I just adored. We spent so much time together dreaming up projects for the kids, laughing and just having a great time.
5. Creating Great Big Masterpiece-Inspired murals has really been fun in the art room this year. The first one we embarked on was this Andy Warhol Campbell's Soup Can number that currently hangs in the school cafeteria.

Our second big mural was inspired by the work of Rene Magritte and created by my third grade students. I'm excited to see what other murals we create this upcoming year.
6. So I got it in my head that I would be creating 9 artist-themed outfits this school year. This has been so much fun for me and the kids have loved it. Of course, sometimes I have to point out to them that I'm wearing something slightly unusual because they just look at me and see crazy. An apple for your face? Eh, what else is new.

 7. I started a sewing group after school for the faculty at my school. It's been so exciting to share my love of sewing with others. I have plenty to learn about sewing...but it's so much fun to teach what little I do know. I'm excited to say that about 4 of these ladies have since purchased sewing machines of their own and even gotten some for Christmas! In the photo above, we're wearing some tacky Christmas garb we stitched up ourselves.
8. Getting published in SchoolArts...twice! I've been reading SchoolArts since my first year teaching when I discovered a stash in the back of my first art room. I poured over those issues and learned so much from each and every one. It was such a life saver for me...and still is. So I was honored to have my geeked out art teacher clothes featured.
And an article I wrote that showcased the fab work of my former fourth graders. It meant so much to me and them.
9. A service project to help those that can't help themselves. My kindergarten through 4th grade students each created an animal clay project that they "sold" back to their parents for a monetary donation of their choice. This money was then given to the no-kill animal shelter in our town called Happy Tales Humane. I think showing the kids that they can use their art to help others is very important. We are in the middle of another service project now. By the way, you can see our animal clay projects here, here and here.

10. Dressing like Mary Poppins for Favorite Book Character Day was such fun. Since the kids were learning about the UK at the time, I was reading P.L. Travers book to the children and playing my old Disney records. By the way, have ya'll seen Saving Mr. Banks? If not, you absolutely must. I loved every minute.
The best part about dressing as Mary is that I actually got to meet her at Epcot that very weekend. I told her I was a teacher and she asked, "Do you keep those students in spit spot shape?"
11. Getting to visit with my mother and brother this summer was awesome. My baby bro teaches on an Indian reservation in Arizona so I don't see him as often as I'd like. And my mama lives about 6 hours away in Indiana. So for us to get together is a pretty big deal. I took 'em around to the usual touristy spots.
12. Hubs and I love to go to Star Wars Weekends at Hollywood Studios in Disney World. Yeah, we're nerdy like that. For the last two years, I've created a dress for the occasion, once with the Star Wars sheets from my childhood and this year with a Mad Men theme. Already hubs is asking what I'll be wearing this upcoming year.
13. Getting this insane tree into the art room. Okay, this one goes down as one of the funniest things that happened this year. My girlfriend and I made two trips with her huge car hauling this monster of a tree...and then more girlfriends attempted to help me assemble the thing. In the end, a kind dad volunteer put the tree together and I'm happy to say, it's still standing.
And we've so enjoyed having it in the art room this year. Fingers crossed it hasn't decided to collapse over Winter Break.

And that's my 13 faves of 2013! I hope your year was a good one and here's to a brand new one. Happy New Year, ya'll!

Sunday, December 29, 2013

DIY: Painting from Vintage Book Covers

Well, I hope ya'll just had the very best holiday ever and that Santa was super good to you. All I can say is that I musta been totally well-behaved this year (and that Santa has lowered his expectations of acceptable behavior) because I really scored. I don't wanna brag but if you happen to notice my photos are just a pinch better it's because the hubs upgraded my dropped-more-times-than-I-can-remember/seven-year-old camera to some super fly thing. Thankfully it doesn't have too many bells and whistles that require extensive manual reading. Because, let's be sexist, the only person who reads manuals are the Man. For the ladies, well, there's pinterest. So you know I've already pinned "25 Super Cute Ways to Snap Super Cute Pictures While Attempting to Look Super Cute".

Speaking of The Hubs, he requested a certain handmade giftie for Christmas. He's always loved the outdoors, especially hiking and camping. Recently, he's been reading some vintage outdoorsy books with just the best covers ever. His request: paintings of the book covers.  
The photo on the left shows the original book cover I worked from. We don't own either of these books (the first editions sell for a couple hundred dollars on ebay) so I worked from images found online. My 14" X 16" painting is on the right. Even though this painting took longer because of the extra layer of color added, I'm not gonna lie, it's my fave.

For the cover of this book, I attempted to antique the canvas a little by scrapping it with a wiry brush. You can kinda see that effect at the bottom. I'm not sure if I love it but when I'm done with a project, I'm, like, done

By the way, painting these camping books has me remembering all sorts of outdoorsy adventures. Like the time my mom took me and my cousins camping on the grounds of the theme park Indiana Beach (do I have any Hoosiers in the house? Can I get a "There's more than Corn in Indy-Ana!" Which is true. There's also corny song writers.) We had an army green canvas tent exactly like the one on the cover of this book. Unfortunately, because all of us were Girl Scout Dropouts, we had no idea how to put the thing up and so, in the middle of the night when it began to rain, all of the aluminum poles collapsed on my side of the tent. And, if you know anything about canvas tents (which I did not), you are never supposed to touch them once they are wet because then the water drips in. And it did. Again, on my side of the tent. Moral of story: Don't go camping with my mother. In Indiana. In the rain. Ever.

Back to the DIY at hand, I started by painting the canvases a color that best matched the book covers. I then used that aforementioned wiry brush to kind of rough up the canvas (Canvas, Ima gonna Rough You Up!). I used chalk to sketch in the design because it was easier to see and erase than pencil.
From there, I just blocked in the dark color. Once that was dry, I used a slightly damp towel to wipe away the chalk lines.
And then there was the lettering. Ewww! I hate lettering. How did I ever forget after painting this Smoky Mountain picture? Which I only painted because I had forgotten how tiresome all the lettering in this calendar proved to be. And how difficult it is to actually get the sizing correct like in this Nashville painting. Apparently I'm a glutton for punishment. And chocolate. Where's my chocolate punishment? Cuz I could totes use some of that.
Once that first painting was knocked out, I started on this one. Which was a pinch more involved because of the addition of another color.

I kinda went at it screen printing/color-by-numbers style by layering the colors from the background moving forward.
I took a lotta liberties with the composition of this painting (read: I messed it up and had to come up with an alternative) but in the end, I kinda love this painting.
Hubs and I've been taking some seriously long day hikes. I've been in my glasses this week after contracting a delightful eye infection that left me feeling as though I were blinking over shards of glass. Lovely, right? Being out with this dude reminded me of one of the times we camped in Kentucky at Mammoth Cave. Lemme set the scene for you: it was twilight, we'd just set up camp and I took a short stroll to the ladies room (FYI: for those of you that do not camp, there is no "ladies room"). Upon my return, I heard a "chuh-chuh-chuh-CHUH-CHUH!" sound coming from the ground and I looked down to see a rattleshake frantically shaking his tail and slowly raising his head. I screamed bloody murder and with legs that felt like noodles, I ran back to the tent. "MITCH! Mitch! MITCH!!" I screamed to this dude who, after hearing my commotion in the woods, looked more annoyed than worried. "What? You're scaring the wildlife."

Oh, and speaking of wildlife that incident with the snake was only topped by the time we hiked the four miles out of our campsite and got all the way home only to find that I'd had a huge scorpion just chillin' in my backpack. When we got home and I unzipped my bag, out he popped, crawling around on our kitchen counter with a "So, is this your place? Not bad, not bad. Don't know about your decorator but I've got a coupla friends than can help you get this place lookin' sharp. You know, like my tail. Heh heh heh."

 Dear Wildlife. Suck it.
I'm kinda stoked about these paintings because it's inspired us to decorate our Tennessee-themed pad with a vintage camping vibe also. Complete with scorpions and rattlesnakes. Should be pretty sweet.

AND NOW...it's time to announce the Winner of the Best Artsty Pick Up Line Contest. Drum roll, puhlease? No?! Well, how about a rattlesnake rattle. Thank you...

I'm an artist but...for you, baby, I'll get a JOB! by Laureen!

Congrats, Laureen! 
And thank you to everyone who submitted and voted! I loved each and every line and have tested them all myself. Thanks, guys!

Monday, December 23, 2013

DIY: Christmas Tablecloth to Skirt AND Gold Dotted Boots!

Is it really any wonder that all the poor Christmas trees in my house are sans skirts?! I've just about robbed all of 'em for my current skirt-making craze! Poor naked trees. 

Well {sniff}, I hate to say it but {wiping away tears}, this just might be the last of the Christmas outfits I create this season {uncontrollable sobbing, obnoxious nose blowing}. Which is probably a good thing because, let's be honest, I just...


(we can't stop; we won't stop...you know that's what Miley was singin bout ya'll.)

 It's become a sickness, kids. And it's probably for the best that the Big Day is almost here so that the Christmas-ize-ing comes to an end (huh, Christmas-ize sounds a whole lot like Jazzercise which means that I'm probably burning calories and perfecting my jazz-hands all whilst crafting away. I knew there was a health benefit in there somewheres!)
Now you may recall that this is not my first time down Christmas Skirt lane. After transforming this tree skirt to a lady skirt, I decided to give this lovely table cloth a new life. I scored it on ebay (can you believe I was the only bidder?! Wait...don't answer that) after having fallen in love with all of it's felt-y cuteness.
I mean, can I get an "aww" here? When Dasher's not running out in front of our (now demolished) car, he's prancing through the woods (wait, would that make this deer Prancer? Because he looks just like Dasher, Dancer and/or Blitzen. HOW AM I SUPPOSED TO TELL 'EM APART?! At least Rudolph's got his red nose and Vixen's got her vixen-y ways. It's called bein' different, deers. Ya'll outta try it).

Okay, where was I?
Oh, yeah, I totes loved all of the woodland scenes on this table cloth. It's what made my finger twitch and hit the Click to Buy button.
However, what I WASN'T prepared for was creeper-face Santa Claus! Holy Candy Canes, ya'll! Looks like Super Paranoid Claus to me. Using my amazing felted-Santa-mind-reading-skillz, here's what I've deduced Santa is thinking:

I wonder if anyone will notice I stole Rudolph's nose?

That sales lady at JCPenny's said vertical stripes were slimming...but I'm not so sure.

Oh, Fruitcakes! My suspender just broke! If these pants fall down then EVERYONE will know I wear women's panties!

That sales lady was right, Mom Jeans aren't just for moms. I look HAWT...or do I?!

I wonder if anyone will notice I stole a baby polar bear and strapped it to my chin.

(Okay, I seriously think I could do this for hours. For your sake [and Santa's], I'll stop.)
I went about creating this skirt the exact same way I did the tree-skirt-to-lady-skirt. I simply placed my circle skirt pattern over the twice-folded table cloth and (loosely) followed the pattern directions. I'm not trying to be vague with my directions here...it's just that there's probably a much better way to go about doing this. I'm a crappy teacher. Just don't tell my students. Oh, wait, they know that already. Don't tell their parents.
You'll notice that Santa is no where to be found on the front of this skirt. I strategically placed that dude on my back side (he's on the other side of the log cabin taking a leak). 

Now! Let's chat about my other DIY in this here post: My Gold Dotted Boots!
Please don't look too closely, these babies are a hawt mess. And totally responsible for my two new gray hairs.
I began with these ankle boots I scored on Black Friday for a mere $10. I already have a black, brown and embroidered pair of ankle boots so I picked these up with the sole intent of DIY'ing them. By the way, this is off topic (like everything else here) but hubs seems to think that ankle boots are the ugliest thing known to man. It's his belief that instead of birth control, women could simply don a pair of these bad boys. I'm pretty sure he feels about these the way I feel about dudes in skinny shorts.
But! This post isn't about birth control and skinny shorts (...or is it?). Back to the DIY at hand. I started by sketching in my dots in chalk. I used the same Gold Leafing Kit that I used on this DIY. You simply paint on the adhesive and let it sit up and become tacky. "Sit up and become tacky"...that sounds like my morning routine!
Then you place the gold leafing sheet on top and rub. The deal is it's supposed to stick to the adhesive.
Which, as you can see, doesn't always work out that way. Now, I'm kinda of a mess but when it comes to my crafting, I like it to be pretty perfect-ish. And this here drove me absolutely nuts(-er). For many of the dots, I had to go back, add adhesive where the leafing didn't take and try again. In the end, I cheated a little by painting in some of the dots...and others, I just decided to let it go. From a distance, they look pretty good. Close up, I like to pretend they appear "antiqued".
I chatted in a blog post last year about my DIY Christmas decor. Read mo' here.
To finish the boots off, I'd been looking all over the place for boot toppers. Turns out you can simply turn your leg warmers inside out, fold 'em down a coupla times and, viola!, you have boot toppers!
A word about my ridiculous head piece. I found it at JoAnn's last year on the super duper after Christmas clearance rack. I added the two smaller green trees...but I still had several kids tell me, "You look like a Christmas Unicorn!" 

Kids, thank you so much for dropping by! PLEASE don't forget to click to vote for your favorite pick-up line on the right side of this post. I'll announce the winner by the end of this week!

I doubt I'll chat with you again until after the Christmas so I hope you have a merry one! Beware of the Creeper Santa and the Christmas Unicorn!