Sunday, June 29, 2014

What the Art Teacher Wore #104 and Let's Book Club, Ya'll!

I'm-a-Total-Fake Monday: Ya'll, don't let this photo fool you. I didn't wear this on Monday as I was in my pajamas feverishly stitching up my Frida Frock. I just so happened to have worn this a coupla weeks ago and never shared it with ya'll. Cuz I just don't think we're at that point in our relationship for you to see me in my Walmart-wear (aka, my jammie-jams). dress: vintage; belts and sandals: Anthropologie
 Hey, friends! Thank you for all the love on the Rambo Meets Frida Frock. It was a whole lotta fun to make even if it did challenge my weak sewing abilities. When that bad boy was complete, I spent the rest of my week catching up with my roomies from the NAEA convention in San Diego, playing tourist-in-my-own-town with my art teacher buds and teaching a Felted Pet Portrait class at The Skillery! It was another packed summer week and, although I'm pretty pooped, I wouldn't have it any other way.

Speaking of packed, let's just throw one more thing into the mix, shall we? A while back, many of ya'll joined the Artsy Book Club. If ya'll aren't familiar, I suggested some titles, took a poll and we settled on the artsy read One Drawing a Day. I really enjoyed the book (and I know many of ya'll did as well based on all the drawings you posted on the Facebook page) but in the end, I just couldn't keep up. Instead of simply sketching the "assignments", I would spend an hour plus each evening. I enjoyed it a whole heck of a lot and was beyond inspired by what ya'll shared...but in the end, I just couldn't give up that much of my sewing/crafting/felting/watching-survival-shows-with-the-hubs time. So, sadly, I let the whole thing go. And I feel pretty bad about that because we had such a fun little family of support and creativity going on! So, if ya'll are in, I propose we give it another go!

I've slapped together some books that I'd love to read from all walks of literary life: a coupla how-to's, an inspirational teaching book, an uber-famous art book and one from Disney. I've created a poll (look right, ya'll) so if you're interested, you can cast your vote for the one that piques your interest. I'll keep voting open for a coupla days and I'll announce our book club winner later this week. 

Until then, check out these titles and have a super fab week, kids!
The Imagineering Workout by Disney Imagineers, 2005 Here's a summary from amazon: You've been told how to think "out of the box," and even been told to throw the box away, but really, isn't it time someone taught you how to create your own box in the first place? The Imagineering Workout: Exercises to Shape your Creative Muscles, will do just that, with interactive, ingenious, and practical exercises that will stimulate your imagination, tone your creative muscles, strengthen ideas, and, most importantly, inspire new approaches. The Imagineering Workout is for anyone who wants to learn new ways to problem-solve challenges, whether they're creative, logic-oriented, everyday, or event-inspired. The ingredients Imagineers use are simple and contain a large measurement of fun, which contributes to shapelier thinking and stronger solutions.
No Excuses Tuesday: Errand-running demanded I actually look human and leave the house.  I was all, "whuh? what's with all the sunlight and people?!". After having spent all Monday at home, I felt a lil vampire-esque finally leaving the house. I'm a homebody so I was glad when the running-around was over and I could return to my sewing lair. dress: vintage; sweater: thrifted; shoes: Anthro; bow and belt: dunno
Printmaking Unleashed, Traci Bautista, 2014 Not gonna lie, this one totally has me interested. Here's the down low: Unleash your inner artist and join Traci Bautista as she shares inventive ideas for making marks with handmade tools, nontraditional materials and simple DIY printmaking techniques. Pulsing with exploration and whimsy, Printmaking Unleashed features 60+ step-by-step demonstrations and countless possibilities for creating original prints, fabrics, art journal pages, mixed-media collage, and so much more.
Wednesday Wannabe: I'm such a sewing wannabe. Did ya'll check out those other sewing blogs in the Frida post? I wish those chics were my neighbors, as I'd be at their house getting help all the time! 
Paint Mojo, Tracy Verdugo, 2014 Deets: Break free of your comfort zone, sharpen your senses to perceive the world around you and find happiness in play. On this painterly journey, Tracy Verdugo leads you from self-doubt to self-appreciation by helping you find your voice through a myriad of vibrantly-hued mark making, painting and self-reflection techniques. There are no mistakes here, only opportunities to learn and grow.
"I LIKE YOUR DRESS!" Thursday: I was on my way to meet up with some buddies when my wee your-a##-is-outta-gas light popped on. As I was filling up my tank, the gas station attendant lady got on the intercom and shouted, "I like your dress!". Being embarrassingly flattered as I was, all I was able to do was shout back a weak, "thanks!" and a wave. It truly made my day. dress: vintage; shoes: old, Target; belt: Pin Up Girl Clothing
Teach like a Pirate, Dave Burgess, 2012 I actually have started this book but since hubs has hijacked my kindle, I've yet to finish. It's a great read, super inspiring. Here's what amazon says: Based on Dave Burgess's popular "Outrageous Teaching" and "Teach Like a PIRATE" seminars, this book offers inspiration, practical techniques, and innovative ideas that will help you to increase student engagement, boost your creativity, and transform your life as an educator. You'll learn how to: • Tap into and dramatically increase your passion as a teacher • Develop outrageously engaging lessons that draw students in like a magnet • Establish rapport and a sense of camaraderie in your classroom • Transform your class into a life-changing experience for your students.
Nashville Tourist Friday: I don't "do" N'ville enough. It's so much fun with friends. In case you find yourself in my neck of the woods (gimme a shout, ya'll!), here's what we did that was totes 'tactical: Eighth and Roast (you could cut the hipster air with a chainsaw but the service was super and the coffee, dreamy); The Fabric Studio (gah, the most gorgeous prints ever and the owner was super sweet); The Haus of Yarn (offers an amazing selection of yarn and a decent amount of wool roving); The Hip Zipper (vintage clothing on a budget); Fannie's House of Music (don't let the name fool you, the have a good selection of vintage clothing too!); I Dream of Weenie was our lunch spot and they offered veggie dogs! Don't make that face, they were delish!; Jeni's Splendid Ice amazing, gah; Tatyana's Vintage-Inspired Clothing (my buddies and I have been dying to go there...and, while the clothing was amazing, the customer service was unbearably rude. We left empty-handed, sigh.) Can you believe we did all that in one day?! When it comes to shopping and eating, we totally got this. dress: vintage
The Art Spirit, Robert Henri I talked about Henri and this book here.  I've never read it but it's like a staple in the art book world. Details: The Art Spirit represents the best of the collected words, teachings, and letters of inspired artist and teacher Robert Henri. Filled with valuable technical advice as well as wisdom about the place of art and the artist in American society, this classic work continues t be a must-read for all aspiring artists and lovers of art. --Publisher's description.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

DIY: Rambo Meets Frida Kahlo Dress

 Hola, cats and kittens! Whatcha see here is one unibrowed lady that has finished her Rambo dress! What in tarnation is a Rambo dress, you ask? (FYI, no one says "tarnation" anymore, you might wanna update your vocab. You sound like Yosemite Sam and not in a good way.) Well, lemme tell ya. It all started a lil while back when SeamstressErin asked me, ME, if I'd like to participate in a sew-a-long. 

Ya'll. In case you didn't know this, sew-a-longs are for people who can actually sew. But I digress.
 According to Erin, she'd managed to get her kitten mittens on all of the turbans worn in the movie Rambo III. You can see 'em on the dudes below. Look, turban-ie!
 Her idea? To send a buncha bloggers a turban and see just what they would stitch up. It's been super fun (and totes intimidating!) to see what those sewers created. I've added a linky-loo to each at the bottom of this post so you can see for yo'self.
 When my turban arrived in the mail, it was magical. KIDS, this turban has been in the presence of Sylvester Stallone. He probably, like, looked at it! He mighta even, I dunno, stood near the dude wearing it. In fact, I'm willing to say he was all, "Man, that is a super sweet turban. The best outta all of them. Can I just, you know, wipe my brow on it?" 

AH! My turban has sweet Stallone sweat all over it! That would explain the smell. Actually, it smelled like camels when I ironed it. Which could only mean one thing: When Stallone sweats, he sweats camels, ya'll. Like a boss.
Now, as some of ya'll know, I love to create clothing inspired by either works of art or the artist themselves (check out my Campbell's Soup Can Dress, The Great Wave Frock, my light up Starry Night Dress,  The Scream Dress, a Jackson Pollock-y Number and my tribute to the surrealist Rene Magritte). So when I started thinking of ideas for this dress, I happened to be working on that stenciled and embroidered piece below. It totally reminded me of the artist Frida Kahlo (who has been in my mind a lot thanks to Natalie Friedl!). When I happened to lay the embroidery on top of the turban I was all "EUREKA! I love them together!" and my Rambo meets Frida Kahlo dress was born (still workin' name: Fr-rambo Frock? Frida Kahlo-ambo? It's a work in progress). 

By the way, don't you love how it looks like Frida is givin' ole Sly the side-eye. She's all, "Ummm-hmmm. I bet he sweats camels."
Oh, Frida, you so crazy.

Since this turban was based on Rambo the third, I decided to use three patterns. Actually, that's a lie. I decided to use three patterns because I'm an idiot. But I really liked the bodice of Simplicity 0320, the midriff of Simplicity 8087 and the flounce -n- skirt of Butterick 5880. Now, some of you know how deep my hatred of Butterick runs. Deep. It was about this time last summer that we battled it out during the making of this dress. Once again, like last time, I relied heavily on my pretend BFF Professor Pincushion. For any of you sewers out there that don't have a clue (like myself), this lady's youtube tutorials are a sewing-lifesaver. 
Putting this number together was not without it's share of seam ripping and swearing. Can you really do one without the other? First of all, getting that bodice and midriff of two different patterns to play nice wasn't easy. And, let's chat about the elephant in the room, shall we? The stripes on the flounce. ARGH! They no matchy! Some of the stripes lined up but others didn't. That's because they were on opposite ends of the scarf and apparently weren't woven exactly the same. So the flounce has a few flubs. Whatcha gonna do.

 A lil side and back view. For the back midriff band, I used some minty green cotton that was just a touch lighter than the embroidered piece on the front. One of the reasons I always return to that vintage Simplicity pattern is I love that stinkin' band. Not only is it flattering (says me) but it also allows me to play with more fabric patterns an color. 
Outfit details: Well, you know I made the dress...I also created those floral hair clips for the occasion by hot gluing some fake flowers to some hair clips; hand painted necklace: DIY here; bangles: gifts/thrifted; wedge sandals with fabric design: DIY here

Now, let us talk about the wonderment that is the Frida Kahlo, shall we? I've always admired Frida's surrealist artwork for it's honesty. This woman's life was a tough one and each one of her paintings exposes so much raw anguish that it's impossible not to feel her pain. Do ya'll know her story? It goes like this: When Frida was 6 years old, she had polio so her right leg was shorter than the other. For ease of walking, she would wear several pairs of socks at at time. As a child, in order to hid this, she took to wearing long skirts.
 When she was 18, she was riding a bus that was in an accident. One of the metal handrails went completely through her body, leaving her nearly dead. She had over 22 surgeries due to this accident. In the end, those surgeries resulted in the amputation of her leg. For the rest of her life, she wore a series of plaster and leather corsets to help her sustain her body. It was during that first bedridden year after the accident, that Frida took to painting (sometimes on those plaster corsets) and an artist was born. 
 "I am not sick. I am broken.

But I am happy as long as I can paint."

I've always loved Frida's sense of style. But it turns out that there was much more to her look that I ever imagined. You see, in the 1930s- 40s, fashion in Mexico was very European. However, there was a national pride movement that both Frida and her super famous hubs Diego Rivera were apart of. To showcase that pride, Frida started to dress in a style called Tehuana after it's place of origin. In this culture, a women's ensemble had three key parts: a headdress (Frida adopted the flowers), a short square and ornately designed blouse (this easily hid Frida's corset), piles of jewelry and a long flowing skirt (which also hid her prosthetic leg). Her signature look, which hid her imperfections, remains stylish today.

 Oh! I forgot to point out, I used some of my scraps to make a Rambo-esque floral headband. 
 And there you have it! A dress that was once a sweaty turban now lives a new life as a Frida Kahlo-inspired frock!
 A very special thank you to Erin for inviting me to participate in this Rambo Sew-a-long! I had so much fun and was truly challenged by the task (but really, when am I NOT sewing-challenged). Now, follow these links to check out more Turban-tasticness!

Monday, June 23, 2014

DIY: A Felted Foxy Wallhanging

This past Sunday I co-hosted a Pee-Wee's Big Adventure-themed Baby Shower (so much more on that to come ya'll. It was, like, the cutest thing everrrr, if I do say so myself. AND I do) for one of my most favorite friends in the universe, Mallory. Mama Mal's going with a fox-theme for her nursery (she's a big Wes Anderson fan with Fantastic Mr. Fox being the inspiration) so I created this here Felted Foxy Wallhanging for her and baby Lydia Dot!
Now ya'll might recall that I've been down this felted-foxy road before with that What Does the Fox Say? sweater from a wee bit ago. This piece was more involved because I wasn't working on a sweater but creating a background from scratch (ya'll, what does that mean, "from scratch"? People be scratchin' stuff up to work with? Are they developing a scratchy rash? They make cream for that ya know. Just sayin'.) 
But before we get to that, lemme show you what I was workin' with. I found this frame on a thrifting adventure with this sad artwork inside. Okay, I get it, they're praying...or are they?! Let's look closely at this illustration and do a lil rewrite shall we? Here's the scenario, the police have busted in and shouted, "Alright, kid and all your toys, put those hands up and keep 'em where I can see 'em! TEDDY BEAR! No peaking! Dolly-on-the-chair, DID I STUTTER?! Get those hands up! We're not leaving until we find My Little Pony. Horse! We know you've had it out for her since she got to town. Cuff 'em!"

Okay, I admit, that story line is a little weak. Since I couldn't make it work, I ripped it out and eventually used it as the backing for the piece.
For the background, I decided to play around with this assortment of fabrics. As I went, I threw the fabric I didn't intend to use on the floor (because that's where things go when you are a slob, ya'll). When I saw that pile of fabric on the floor MOVE, I nearly had an unfortunate accident that woulda required an outfit change. Gingerly, I picked up the fabric...
To find this sweet baby underneath. Since my buddy Mallory is allergic to cats, I was glad Asha had decided to settle on the fabric I wasn't intending to use! By the way, you can see a sweater I felted dedicated to this lil girl here
Once I had my pieces picked, I either stitched or appliqu├ęd them together. This went together pretty quickly. Which was good because I was making this present the day before the shower. You know. Cuz Procrastination is my Middle Name (actually, that's not true. It's actually B*tch Face but I only tell my closest of friends that secret. Keep it on the down low, would ya?).
From that point, I drew out my design, traced it in Sharpie, cut it out and pinned it in place. 
When felting, I often begin by creating an outline. For this you have to use 100% wool yarn. As I needle punched, I did puncture the paper quite a bit but that didn't harm the needles or the design. As far as supplies goes, I use a Clover Needle and felting mat
Once my outline is complete, I filled it with wool roving. I did post some short clips on the you tubes a while back of a simple felting tutorial. You can check it out here if you can handle my aforementioned B&tch Face.
I didn't want to outline the muzzle so for that I simply traced the pattern in chalk. I like to use chalk because you can erase it pretty easily. I filled that space with white roving. By the way, amazon also sells a whole lotta roving...but I think buying from an independent supplier might be a better. I kinda feel like amazon is becoming the internet version of Walmart, it's taking over the world. But I digress.
 A little cheek and a wool yarn mouth.
For the eye, I decided to try stenciling. I know you can buy felting stencils so I thought I'd give it a try. It worked great! Def gonna be doin' that again.
See? Cake.
For the hankie, I used the same process I had for the white fur muzzle: trace with chalk and fill in. I did attempt some shading with a couple different values of that sea foam green. I thought that complimented the flatness of the fox.
Speakin' of fox, it was about that time that hubs popped in my sewing room to ask if I was planning on changing outta my pajamas. Ever. Answer: NO. It's called Summer Vacay. Pajama-Changing is optional.
Once the fox was finished, the rest went off without a hitch. Or should I say b#tch? Regardless, 'twas easy cakes. 

My fave part was probably the lettering. I simply laid the yarn out and commenced punching it in place. 
Complete, yippie! NOW, I'll change outta my pajamas and slip into something less Goin'-to-the-Walmarts-esque.

I was super nervous when Mallory opened her folks, you know what that's like. What if she hates it? What if she throws in on the floor and projectile vomits on it? These are the thoughts that run through my head. Like, all the time.
Yay! She likey!

Now, this wallhanging puts me in the mind of what I'll be up to this weekend: I'm teaching a Felted Pet Portrait class in Nashville! There are still a coupla spots left if you are interested. Deets here, ya'll. Hope to see some of ya'll there!

Sunday, June 22, 2014

What the Art Teacher Wore #103

Movie Makin' Monday: Well, trying to anyway. I spent my Monday working on and taping my presentation for The Art of Education's summer conference. I don't know why I get nervous taking to a video camera when there's no one around but when I saw that blinking record button, my hands got sweaty every time! crayon clip: made by me; felted art supplies blouse: made by me, DIY here; skirt and sandals: Anthropologie, old; belt: Pin Up Girl Clothing
Whut is UP, party people?! I hope these summer days of yours have been super fun, filled with relaxation and lemonade. Relax-monade. Tis my favorite drink.

This week, I poured a whole lotta thought and time into my presentation for The Art of Education's summer conference. Who out there is planning to attend? If you've no earthy idea what I'm talking about (don't worry, happens to me a lot), lemme break it down for ya: Jessica Balsley, the genius behind the Art of Education, hosts a biannual online all-art-teachin' conference that features about twenty 10 - 15 minute presentations by art educators from all over the world. I was fortunate enough to attend and present at the last conference and it was fantastical. 
This go-round, my topic is something I'm passionate about: Why my Students are Tech-Free in the Art Room. I've thought long and hard about this and it's a topic that's sure to rub a coupla folks the wrong way. You can read a lil more about this topic here, if you wanna.

I have a lot of scattered thoughts on this topic so it took me some time to put them together in a presentable presentation (and whether or not it's actually presentable is still up for debate). Once I'd prepped my thoughts and dialog, I was set to record...unfortunately, a certain furry friend of mine wasn't making that easy for me. Get outta my chair, kitty! (said in my best Cartman from South Park voice).
Totally Bright Tuesday: While I was in Charleston, I went to their evening City Market which was super cool and way more interesting than the daytime. The evening event seems to have more genuine crafters and less flea-market faire. Case in point: the artists behind that bright pink necklace of mine. They are created from polymer clay where the artist dyes the beads with pigment. I loved 'em so much, I had to get two! necklace: ; dress: Anthropologie; shoes: Shoe Carnival; belt: made by me
Now, I can't tell ya too much about my presentation cuz that'd spoil the fun. But I do wanna share with you what technology looked like when I was a kid: meet Speak & Spell and Speak & Math. Anybody else have these super amazingly fun toys as a kid?  I mean, what crummy parent buys their kids educational toys for Christmas when all she ever asked for was a Rainbow Bright and a Love-a-Lot CareBear (my therapist says I need to let this go. I fired her a%%.).  Can you believe I still have these guys? The Speak & Math still works and I do a fun demo of the toy during my chat. 

As a kid, technology never really did it for me. My school had one Apple computer that we all scratched each other's eyes out to play Oregon Trail on (only to die of diphtheria 3 minutes in). On the home front, aside from the Speak & Bros, I had a big a## Commodore 64 ('member them?) that I'd spend HOURS typing codes into just to watch it bounce a lil green dot across the screen. Yeah, good times. It didn't take me long to realize that I'd much rather spend time with my calligraphy set (my handwriting is super cute because of it) and my embroidery kit cuz the results where actually tangible and awesome.

Dinner Out Wednesday: Not gonna lie, after spending a coupla solid days working at home, I was super stoked to leave the house and go to dinner with the hubs. It's been a million degrees outside...but what I HATE is how all shops and restaurants keep their thermostat at sub-zero temps. WHY?! dress: Forever 39; sandals: straps made by me

Speaking of technology, I recently came across this sweet book and I've been pouring over it's amazingly retro pages.
Take a look at this first page. You can prolly click on it to get a bigger view. Let's count all the technology that we see in this here photo that is currently antiquated, shall we?

1. Rotary Phone. My grannie used to have one. One false move and you had to dial that number allll over again. Argh, so annoying! Not to mention that cord wasn't long enough -- how'm I suppose to multi-task (i.e. go to the bathroom and talk on the phone) when the cord won't reach?! Oh! Speaking of bathroom phone calls (which I don't do, that was a joke, ya'll! That noise you hear in the background is, uh, totally not coming from me) my baby sitter as a kid had a phone attached to her toilet paper dispenser. Like a rockstar.

2. Wall Clock. Okay, so that's not really outta style...or is it? I've got three hanging in my house and when the battery dies, well, game over. I've yet to change 'em out. The magical microwave and my phone always have the correct time.

3. Sewing Machine. Back in the day, every woman had one. And she made just about everything with it. The whole notion of DIY is definitely making a comeback...but I'm willing to put money down that more people have a laptop than a sewing machine. 

4. Fan. Okay, this I'm happy with, buh-bye fan, hello Central Air. My Rotary Phone Granny had no A.C. I lived in front of that fan (and the open refrigerator) all summer long. 

5. Camera. Even if people still have one, they don't use 'em. Phone photos have taken over.

6. Typewriter. I had to write papers in high school on one. Not gonna lie, happy to see that gone.

7. Record Player. My sweet librarian gave me an old school record player, I love that thing!

8. Big Box Television. Um. We still have one of those. Sigh.

Wow, isn't it funny to think of all that "top of the line" stuff that is now considered vintage? Do you think that in 20 plus years kids will recall all that stuff they used to spend so much time on (i.e. laptops, tablets, smartphones) and laugh at it's antiquated-ness? I'd hate to think of spending my students art time on technology that will be a thing of the past in the near future. You know what doesn't go outta style? Painting. Drawing. Sculpting. Weaving. 
Plotting and Planning Thursday: Not only have I been working hard on my presentation but I've also been prepping for a baby shower I'm hosting TODAY (Sunday!). My favorite art teacher buddy is having a baby and we (another art teacher friend of mine and I) are throwing her a PEE WEE HERMAN BABY SHOW! Holy crappola, ya'll, it's gonna be amazing. On Thursday my friend and I worked hard on preparing. I can't wait to share photos with ya'll. dress, belt and purse: vintage; shoes: Anthropologie

Now, maybe cuz I'm into all things retro, I do like to introduce my students to that technology of the past. One reason is because it's apart of our history that they'll probably never see again. Another is that with older technology, like this record player, you can actually see how it works. It's not just the magical rectangle that can do all this magical stuff. Older technology is big and clunky and functions before your very eyes. I found out the power of this when I brought out that record player in art class.
This little dude was just fascinated. 
Estate Saling/Thai Fooding/ Fabric Shopping Friday: The estate sale gods were good to me and my friends not this day. Oh, the lovelies I scored! I'll have to share 'em with ya. dress: vintage

This week I found out for certain that I'M GETTNG MY THRID AND FOURTH GRADE KIDS FOR AN HOUR! Yes I'm shouting because I'm so totes excited, ya'll! My plan is to introduce them to the world of sewing a skill I longed to learn as a kid.
I'm fortunate to have about 10 sewing machines in my art room (for an after school sewing class I taught last school year). I cannot wait to introduce my students to THAT technology. They get enough of the other kind, I say.
Now for the rest of my ranting and raving, ya'll will have to attend the AOE Conference! I hope to see you there. During my presentation, there's a live chat so all you tech folks can tell me what I'm missing. In the meantime, Ima get this cat outta my chair...
And go chill in front of that fan. 

Do ya'll have your kids use technology in your art room? How so? Love to hear from ya'll!