Thursday, October 30, 2014

DIY: An El Dia de los Muertos Frock

Hola, mis amigos! I hope you all are in fine spirits this All Hallow's Eve-eve and all geared up for your el Dia de los Muertos celebrations (which takes place, in case you didn't know [cuz I certainly didn't until recently], November 1st and 2nd). If your Day of the Dead party looks anything like mine (which will include recovering from a night of binge-leftover-candy devouring) then I totes sympathize. It's just that we don't get any trick or treaters, like, everrr and when we do, I'll be doggone if I'm passin' out the Snickers for a buncha (what's certain to be) crooked-wigged Elsas. Aw, no. Everybody knows that you dole out the crap-candy like Tootsie Rolls (I'm not talking the flavored ones because those are my jam, y'all) first then dip into the good stuff if, and only if, the Tootsies run out. Meanwhile, I'm just over here eating my weight's worth in Snickers as they are Really Satisfying*. 
Despite the fact that I'll be crashing hard from my candy buzz during Day of the Dead, that ain't no reason a girl can't look good. I scored the very last two yards of this fab fabric in August (from JoAnn's y'all but it's available online too) with full intent to stitch it up and wear it throughout October for our chats about the holiday. But, you know, me being slacker-me, that didn't happen. Not until last week did I rediscover the fabric (buried under a mountain of other unfinished/never-started/long-forgotten/oh,-look-a-burrito! projects, of course) and realized I only had a matter of days to get it complete.
 Since it was crunch time, I decided to resort to a sweet little vintage pattern that I've stitched up a coupla times before. This lil McCalls pattern is perfectly precious with a sweet retro neckline and fitted, ahem very fitted (suck it in, sistah, and no more Snickers for you!) waist.
 I used this pattern a coupla summers ago to stitch up this sweet little number (follow the link for a truly epic banana bread story. I know, you wouldn't think banana bread would even make a good story but when Ima cooking it, trust me. It can.)
Oh and here's that super rad fabric I used. There's a lotta great Day of the Dead fabrics out there but this was my fave.
Personally, I totally love that the little dancing calaveras that I stitched kinda resemble those in my dress, yay-ness!

Oh, so here's a view of the dress sans sweater, belt and necklace. Here you can see just how stinking fitted that bust and waistline is. Which I love. A fitted top and a big fat puffy bottom is all I ever really look for in a man dress.

 Oh! And I added more puffy colorful balls to the bottom of the dress. Because, ya know, what's a dress without ballz, y'all? These little dangly dudes were left over from the last time I ball-ified a dress
 As for the rest of the outfit deets: sweater: ebay; belt: Amazon; tights: Target; shoes: Gah, I wear these things all the time, they're Crocs found at Goodwill; mask: Oriental Trading
Speaking of up those sewing machines, kids! Our Dress-a-Girl-Around-the-World Sew-Along begins next week! Yay, I'm so excited!

And speaking of Halloween...if you dress up as a work of art or an artist, don't forget to email me photos! You can enter the Dress Up Contest and possibly be featured in SchoolArts Magazine.

Happy Halloween and el Dia de los Muertos, y'all!

 * Dear Snickers, you are welcome for the endorsement. You can send the case of Snickers to my school address so the hubs won't discover my secret stash. Pretty please and thank you much.

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Tuesday, October 28, 2014

In the Art Room: Second Grade Collage Landscapes Inspired by Chilean Arpilleras

Hey, guys! I'm excited to share with y'all the finished product of many an art class: Second Grade's Landscape Collages!
Here's some things we learned along the way (with more detail in a hot minute):

* How to create textured papers. I borrowed heavily from my buddy Laura's blog Painted Paper because Laura is my art teacher super hero. Suriously. Her students work is amazin'. 

* How to create a landscape with a fore-, middle- and background. 

* How to create an origami house. Some kids got really into this, creating multiple houses for their landscape.

* How to embellish with puffy paint...selectively. Oh, lawd, y'all. You've heard of the book If You Give a Mouse a Cookie, right? Well, If You Give a Second Grader Puffy Paint was not about to be the sequel in my art room. I was the Puffy Paint Nazi. One false move and it was NO PUFFY PAINT FOR YOU!
* How to create a whip-stitched boarder. So I thought this would be totes elementary for these guys. Turns out kids don't know how to sew anymore and this was ROCKET SCIENCE. Note to self: Have more stitched projects...for the sub to do (haha, I kid. Kinda.)
Now that you know the gist, lemme back up a lil bit and give you the full story. The lessons started with an intro to Mexico and Latin America. You can find my prezi (remember my prezi addiction?) here

After that prezi and a quick chat, we spent our first 30 minutes (my first and second grade have 30 minutes of art, twice every six days) creating textured paper with a sponge and tan paint. We chatted about the texture of the Andes mountains in Chile and used that as our inspiration. 

The following 30 minutes were spent learning more painting techniques. We learned how to use cardboard to print flowers or plants, use a texture comb to create textured papers (see the sun below) and how to create a plaid pattern with a dry brush technique. Yes, all that in 30. Sometimes I question my sanity.
The following class, we chatted about arpilleras. You can see my prezi on those lovelies here. After that, we began tearing our textured papers and gluing them to a 12" X 12" construction paper background of our choosing. The key to doing this without having gaps in the landscape is to have the kids begin with the background piece and proceed gluing pieces toward the foreground.  
The next art class, I had the kids immediately grab a piece of origami paper as they entered and meet me on the floor for a origami house demo on the document camera. Before I had a doc camera, I would have simply done an origami demo on a GIANT sheet of paper so they could see all of the steps. With the cam, we all worked together. If time allowed, the kids created more houses or used thin Sharpies to decorate their homes. Initials were written on the back and these wee ones were saved for the following art class.
The next day, I told the kids that they had four goals to reach BEFORE they entered Puffy Paint Town: glue houses to landscape keeping perspective in mind (or not), add clouds/stars/whateverness to the sky, create a sun or moon and add their name at the bottom. If all of these goals were met, they could begin to add puffy paint in dots only on their land. 
I actually have a couple of these beauties that I've found at the thrift store over the years. I love having the real thing to share with the kids instead of just a photo from the 'net. 

Many of the kids didn't reach their goals all in 30 minutes so they needed an extra day to puffy paint. The deal with puffy paint is that it has this habit of sneezing all over art work. So I had the kids use a piece of practice paper to practice dot making before doing it on their masterpiece. The deal with kids is that they get carried away on their practice paper (really? You needed to fill the whole paper with dots? Because now the bottle is empty, dude.) so I started to limit them to 3 practice dots. 

Next up was the stitching. Oh boy. I did go ahead and hole punch the sides of their artwork for them prior to art class. Hate me if you wanna but I just didn't want to spend an additional 30 minutes watching the kids struggle and possibly tear their work as they punched through (sometimes) 3 pieces of construction paper. Added bonus: I now have super big muscles in the right hand. Just what I've always wanted!
Once the stitching was complete, so was the masterpiece! I absolutely love how these beauties turned out and the kids are just as thrilled. I decided to hang them in the hall by paper clipping them together because it's my new fave way to display
Speaking of faves, collage landscapes are also my favorite means of teaching about landscapes. For more lessons, you can check out these Collaged Parisian Pictures, Egyptian Landscape Pieces,
and these Tube Castle Landscapes. What's your fave landscape lesson? I needs to know! Until next time, y'all, use that puffy paint the way your art teacher done showed ya!

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Sunday, October 26, 2014

What the Art Teacher Wore #120 and A Weekend of Artfulness

More Fall Colors Monday: Every morning when trying to figure out what to wear (are any of you the "laying out my outfits the night before" types? I just can't seem to get my life that together!), I go between wearing fall-ish ensembles and my Halloween duds. What'd you wear this week? sweater: thrifted; t-shirt and tights: Target; skirt: gift from a friend, balls added by me (of course); belt: Anthro; shoes: Dolls by Nina, ancient

I would personally like to make a plea to the universe and the passage of time: Slow the Funk Down. Suriously. How is it that the final days of October are upon us, y'all? It feels like school just began! I do believe a big fat part of the prob is that stores started stocking Christmas decor promptly after removing Back-to-School stuffs. Regardless, I'm starting to get that edgy "so much to do/so little time" feeling and me no likey. 

Edginess aside, I did have some seriously big fun this weekend at our annual state art conference. I left school promptly after my last class of the day, drove the three hours to Memphis and headed to the University of Memphis for a wee reception...
I know, right? I can't quite wrap my head around it either. Mostly cuz I have some serious art teacherin' room for improvement. There are always like 20 things I need to do better. But it was very nice to be recognized. 
And be in such great company. I mean, these ladies rock! Just listening to their bios as they were recognized made me wanna hop off the stage, hide in a corner and throw my big puffy red crinoline over my head. But I saved that for later and offered this goofy sh##-eating grin to the camera instead. More on the rest of the conference in a minute. 
 Floral Embroidery Tuesday: On my lil fall break vacay, I scored this dress on Olvera Street. There were so many vendors selling these cute dresses but the key was finding the one with the best price, size and color. I fell in love with the bright embroidery on the black background of this dress immediately. dress: Olvera Street; belt: gift; fishnets and tights: dunno, Target?; shoes: thrifted Crocs
I took some amazing classes at the conference (I tried to squeeze in photos but decided they deserved an entire blog post so stay tuned, kiddies) and I also taught one! Mine was what they called a "Super Session" which is fancy talk for a One Hour Session So Work Super Fast. Because my time was limited, I decided to introduce needle felting with the option of the participants either creating a needle felted palette or a miniature work of art. After a short instructional chat (which included me on-purpose flipping everyone  off. There's photographic evidence of this...but I had second thoughts on sharing it here. I'm getting conservative in my old age), my "students" set to work. 
Since I couldn't have all y'all there, would you be interested in a lil blog post on this? Lemme know in the comments if you are. I have created a coupla videos on needle felting (along with approximately One Million blog posts) so you can visit here for more of that. 
Here's an example of someone creating their own masterpiece. Don't you love it? This was a simple class to teach as the supplies were limited to wool roving, a needle felting tool, a foam cushion and inexpensive felt sheets for creating our design upon. 
 I know, right? Awesomeness. 
Tilt-a-Whirl Skirt Wednesday: As y'all mightah guessed, I do love me some vintage fashion. And no 1950's circle skirt is complete without a crinoline (we call 'em "can-can's" down here in the South) underneath. I scored my latest can-can from Amazon in the Halloween department. I love it, it's perfectly can-canny. The prob? When I swish past tables in the art room, I often times knock the kids' artwork to the floor. They're all, "Mrs. Stephens!" Oops. Sorry! sweater and skirt: vintage, found at an antique mall
Not even gonna lie, my fave part of these conferences? Seeing my art teacherin' buds. My amazing art teacher friend Debbie Flynt and I have known each other since the very first time I attended Tennessee Arts Academy (which, by the way, is open to all art, music and drama teachers of kindergarten through 12th grade and Should. Not. Be. Missed.) some 10 plus years ago and have been buds since. Jim Dodson is not only an art teacher force to be reckoned with but also the brains behind the art sessions at Tennessee Arts Academy. We have entirely too many fun memories and inside jokes and I wouldn't have it any other way.
 Bustin' a Move Thursday: Wow, I knew this was gonna be a crazy day. I had to haul myself to Memphis after a full day of teaching and get there by 6pm for the reception. I made it by 6:12pm without breaking (too much) of a sweat. jacket: Oh, a DIY to come, I promise!; dress: Target; tights: gift; purse: Amazon

My craziness must have been evident to my first grade kids as they drew my silly face in this portrait. Personally, I believe it's one of my faves. Until we chat again, I hope y'all have a super awesome week ahead!
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Thursday, October 23, 2014

In the Art Room: A Light Up Mural

Disclaimerness (please excuse me, but I have ness-disease. Meaning I must add a ness/ish/ify at the end of nearly every otherwise boring word or else I don't feel complete. Ish.): This here Light Up Mural was created last year and I never got around to sharing it with y'all. Since winter will be upon us before you know it, I thought now would be a super awesome glittery good time to post it. So there. Disclaimerism over. 

I know many of y'all create murals with your students. My students have created grid murals, collaged murals and one giant We-Are-the-World inspired self-portrait mural. They can be pretty labor-intensive for both the kids and the poor art teacher who has to crawl around on her knees hot gluin' the thing together but in the end, they are totes worth it. The visual impact is stunning, says me. And this here light up mural was one of my faves. But before we get to that, lemme show you some murals of mural-tastic past along with some linky-loos for your link-clicking pleasure. 
This Monet-inspired mural was created by my kindergarten through second grade students. We created it at the end of the school year, using scraps and painted papers. This was a great mural to hang up at the end of the school year as it kept the school cheery throughout the summer and into the start of a new school year. All the details can be found here
If you are an art teacher and you've been on pinterest for 5 minutes that you've seen that rainbow self-portrait mural. Shoot, you prolly even had your kids create one. I know I did. It was the start of my mural-makin' disease. This mural was created by my students the following year. We had a "travel the world" theme and this was how we kicked it off. Now, I ain't gonna lie, it was a beast to put together. That's why I happily passed that task off to some green college kids who came in to my room to "observe" (which for me translates to "cheap labor"). Full story here, friends. 
 If this flowery dot mural looks familiar, that's cuz we just made it this school year! It presently hangs outside my art room and I absolutely love it. It brings a smile my face every morning. And it truly was a snap to create. Read more here, please
This mural was actually the inspiration for the light up mural. In fact, you can find even more details on how the light up mural was created by going here as I prolly did a better job of 'splainin things. 
Grid murals are a good time if you like putting together puzzles (which I don't) where the pieces don't always match (fun-ness!). However, the visual impact is pretty rad. This one hung in our school cafeteria for a while until it was replaced by this bad boy last year...
My fave grid mural to date. And this one went together much easier than Starry Night. Not to mention that each class created it's own soup can so the kids could easily find "their piece" of the soup, so to speak. Deets here. 
This mural still hangs outside my art room door and I love it. This mural project not only resulted in a giant collaborative work of art but also two separate art projects. It was like the gift that kept on giving. Lookie here and I'll show ya.
So, getting back to the mural at hand (thank you for indulging me in my stroll down Mural Memory Lane), lemme give you the rundown on who-did-whuh: kindergarten painted the sky papers after looking at a lil van Gogh; second grade created the printed trees during a short chat about texture and line; first grade made the lil collaged houses with some left over papers from a previous project and the third and fourth grade kids created the ice skaters. 
Which they did by working on sketching their roller skating buddies in P.E. class. We walked down to P.E. with our clip boards and charcoal sticks and spent about 15 minutes drawing away. Mind you, this was after a chat about gesture drawing. 
When we returned to art the following class, we chose our fave sketch, used a wooden mannequin to copy the pose seen in the sketch and created a more detailed drawing from that. Clothing was NOT optional (ahem) so that was added as well. Drawings were then traced in Sharpie and colored with colored pencils.
And then carefully cut out. Yes, we did have to tape some limps back on. I happens. We call it Art Room ER. 
Dude, the cuteness. It's burning my eyes.

With the help of some super mom volunteers, the pieces of the mural puzzle were put together. Then the sky portion was folded down. I then started cutting slits into the paper and poking some LED lights through the openings.
Like this, see?
I know, it looks like a big ole stitched scar. That's why it's on the back, y'all.
But from the front, ooh-la-la! Sparkly. The light switches are kept in a pocket located to the side of the mural. Just outta kid-reach.
Most of the time, the mural is left unlit. However, I'm excited with out it will look during December. I think it will definitely bring some holiday cheer.
And there you have it! What murals have y'all done? Have you crazy kids attempted a ceiling tile grid mural type deal? If so, would you please come to my school and teach me and the kids how to create one? Pretty please and thank you!