Sunday, November 30, 2014

DIY: Crafts on a Plane!

Well, hey there, long lost friends! I trust y'all had a super fab and totes turkey-tastic Thanksgiving. We don't eat meat in our house so ours was simply tofu-licious (just kidding, we don't believe in the senseless slaughter of tofu either). I'm quite positive that I devoured my weight in good food goodness this past week. However, I'm sticking with el elastic-waistband-o for another 24 hours before I gotta find out the ugly truth.  

Since I seriously was in pajamas and/or the same ensemble for three days in a row, Ima gonna have to skip sharing with y'all what I wore this week. Howevers, I did manage to whip up a coupla crafts during our travels and this here post is the result.
 Oh, okay, one outfit pic. Since I did manage to get dressed, comb my hair and put my face on, I outta show you the product of my one day of effort. sweater: Free People, found at Buffalo Exchange; top: JCrew on super duper Black Friday sale; skirt: TJMaxx years ago; floral fishnets with orange tights underneath: Urban Outfitters

Yay! Match-y embroidered jewelry! Y'all, whipping up these little do-dads took no time at all since the embroidery work was so minimal. Which is perfect for me because embroidery is not my fave thang in the universe. I mean, I've done plenty of it (check out this embroidered necklace and this one, an embroidered blouse, an embroidered dress and this thing). And I was super inspired by Mary Beth who's jewelry and etsy shop was featured in my last post. Her work is so amazing! By the way, you can still leave a comment to enter to win her whale ring. If you don't have an instagram account, don't sweat it, leave a comment anyway! 

Okay, what was I saying again? Oh yeah, CRAFTS ON A PLANE!
 One of my fave things about travel is that it gives me plenty of uninterrupted crafting time. And a four hour flight to Cali is the perfect chance to catch up on all things crafty, dontcha think? I had picked up some alpaca yarn from my trip to this sweet place and had my sights set on knitting myself a scarf. Nevermind the fact that I suck at knitting. Forget all about the thought that I hate knitting. Totally disregard the idea that the last thing I knitted was this gawd-awful hat that ultimately became the cat's chew toy. I had four hours, I was gonna knit me a scarf, y'all. 
AND about 30 minutes in, this was pretty much how I felt about my life as a knit-wit. Thankfully, I'd brought my embroidery backup. 
Please note all the alpaca hair strands all over the black cotton. 

Oh, how was California, you ask? So thoughtful of you to inquire. It was swell. We hit Disnatch a coupla nights in a row to check out the final days of the Mad T Party Band (sniff-sniff!) hit the rides and see the castle at night...
Oh, sparkly. I was also able to catch up with a couple of my fave Californian buddies (thanks for lunch, Jane and Hayden!) and shop. Because there's always time to shop. The hubs loves to hike so we try to tackle a new trail each time we are there. On this trip, we hiked to a grotto where the hubs captured this footage of me being obnoxiously (albeit totes normal) whiny and annoying. It's what I do best. 

I thought he was simply snapping photos until we sat down to look at our pictures together. The video had me laughing so hard at my annoyingness that I just had to share it with y'all. 
 "Wait. We hiked down all that for this?! Where are those knitting needles, Ima bout to knit/purl sumbody."
Once we returned back to civilization, I busted out these jewelry blanks I'd picked up at Michael's. They were on super duper clearance which is always my kinda party. 
To attach my embroidery work to the jewelry, I decided to adhere the fabric to some cardboard backing. Which, in this case, was the cardboard from a dark chocolate package. I'm all about the recyclin', folks. 
 After tracing the ring, I cut out the cardboard...
and glued it to my embroidery piece. I fringe cut the edges of the embroidery so that I could tack it down with glue a lil easier. My glue of choice is Aleene's Quick Dry Tacky Glue. Mostly because I like the name Aleene and I'm totes tacky. Oh, and added bonus, I now have the nutritional facts of my dark chocolate on the underside of my ring! This way, when someone discovers my ring at Goodwill years down the road, they'll think they've found some sort of Da Vinci Code-esque (guys, why are all my movie references, like, 10 years old?!) puzzle which will ultimately unravel the universe! YES, mission accomplished!
Okay, tell me the truth: Does this giant bracelet make me look like some sort of Wonder-Woman-silver-cuff-wearing wannabe?
If so, I don't suppose that's a bad thang, do you? 

Hope y'all have a restful last day of your weekend! 

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Tuesday, November 25, 2014

DIY: Selling on Etsy, An Art Teacher's How To (bonus: giveaway!)

Moon Shadow Rings, here.

I believe that just about every artist, art teacher, crafter and maker-of-many-a-thing has toyed with the idea of selling on Etsy. I mean, it's every creator's dream to share their work, have people take note and, best of all, make some spare coin (you know, for buying even more craft suppliezzz). But, if you've been down Etsy Avenue, you know it's not so simple as listing your stuff and raking in the dough. It's serious (and sometimes no-sales-for-weeks/soul-crushing) work. Which is why you find so many abandoned shops on the site (including my very own belt shop, ahem). All that aside, it can be done. Today I'd like to introduce you to one art teacher who is also a super successful Etsy seller. Meet Mary Beth Heishman!
Just who are you and where do you teach art?  

My name is Mary Beth Heishman and I teach elementary school art in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Tell us a little bit about how you got started creating jewelry. Have you always done it or is this a kinda new thing for you?

I was always in awe of my Grandmother's collection of gems and this really fueled my passion. I have been creating jewelry since I was a child.  I used to make friendship bracelets in grade school and in high school I made hemp jewelry.  I was always selling and trading my creations with friends.  Later in college I even worked at a local bead shop.  I would balance painting with jewelry making.  Right now jewelry making is all I do after I teach during the day.  
Personalized Plane Necklace, here.

What lead you to open an etsy shop? 

At an art inservice, haha, I was talking to a pal about starting an online website. She mentioned etsy and the rest is history.  I was afraid to go solo as how would I generate my own traffic to my site, so etsy was perfect. 
Life Cuff Bracelet, here. 
How long have you been an etsy shop opener? 

I have had my etsy shop since 2007.  In its infancy it was a hodgepodge mess.  I sold art, prints, hand painted vintage records, purses and jewelry.  It wasn't until 2010 when I had started fine tuning my shop and just making jewelry.  That is when I started selling more and had great buyer feedback which fueled my desire to want to make more.
 My personal fave, The Amazonite Bronze Block Necklace influenced by mid-century cinder blocks, here

Your shop is very well stocked full of beautiful pieces. And you've had a ton of successful sales! Tell us your secret: How do you find the time to teach, create AND sell on etsy (which entails photographing the piece, writing a description, shipping and costumer-service dilemmas)? 

Haha, I sometimes question myself on this. I do not know the secret, maybe it is having a loving and supportive husband.  My husband and I work together this year (I teach art, he teaches 5th grade math). We take turns making healthy meals (BIG meals) so we have plenty of left overs for lunch and an additional dinner. Food is very important to us, I may not have time to workout but we eat very well (healthy overall).
Personalized Banjo Bracelet, here

We have loving and supportive friends too that have always encouraged and supported my art and jewelry!
Hexagon Statement Necklace, here

As for product photos, I have a little mini light set up and white plastic backdrop that I shoot pics on.    My favorite is to take model photos with friend's in the nearby desert canyon.  I usually do this all after school.  Although I am behind on 8 new pieces that I need to photograph and post.

As far as customer service, I check my emails when I wake up in the morning and after I get off of work, so far I keep up that way.  My customers are always so sweet and lovely (I feel they too have a love for the handmade and crafted), dilemmas are few.
Whale Tie Bar, here

Are you actually a robot? 

 I wish, I need to upgrade my operating system, I am getting old.  haha, jk.
Can you tell us what a (totally ideal) teaching/creating/selling on etsy day looks like?  

I have taught for 14 years and it wasn't until 2011 that my shop has picked up consistent sales. I am always working during the work week, I wake up, walk our awesome dog, go to school, teach all day, come home and work on making jewelry until 7:30/8 pm every week night. I usually work a full day over the weekend on custom orders. During the holidays I start evening jewelry work until 9/10pm.  I am very thankful for the winter holiday as this is still order time but a few days before December 25th it slows down and I can unplug and relax. I love it though. I love teaching my little artists and then making my own works in the evening. So far I feel balanced.  
If you could give advice to someone who was considering opening an etsy shop, what would that be? (I know, where to start, right?!)

Really it was all trial and error for me. I had a hodgepodge shop and when I had feedback on jewelry that was the direction I went and stayed. I do not know if that is the way to do it but it worked for me. Ask yourself, what is your goal? Have a consistent product that you can replicate if the demand is there. Have fun with your etsy and try to stand out from the rest, be one of a kind.

Thank you so much, Mary Beth, for the fun and informative interview! It's always inspiring to hear from working artists, dontcha you think?

Especially generous ones. Check out this giveaway, y'all!
Mary Beth is GIVING AWAY this ring! Here's all you have to do to enter to win (it's worth $40, kids! How awesomely nice is Mary Beth?!):

1. Leave a comment below telling us your favorite piece in Mary Beth's shop IadornU

2. Follow Mary Beth on Instagram @iadornu. This way you can keep up with all of her creations AND more giveaways!

AND THAT'S IT! Winner will be announced one week from today!


In honor of Thanksgiving and all that I'm grateful for (that'd be you guys, thanks always for popping in and reading/commenting), I've decided to draw TWO names for the Crayola Giveaway! Congrats to...
Morgan Garcia!

Cowpoke Paintbrush!

If you lovely ladies would email me your home address ( I'll have these goodies shipped your way soon!

Thanks for participating, y'all!

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Sunday, November 23, 2014

What the Art Teacher Wore #123 // Thanksgiving Day Craft Ideas

 You Don't Even Wanna Know: The most frequently asked question by my colleagues on this particular day? "Just how are you wearing your stockings today, Stephens?!" Suriously, guise. You don't even wanna know (but being the blabber-mouth that I am, I've written a tell-all below). sweater: Betsy Johnson, thrifted; crayon dress: Modcloth on super-duper sale; belt: amazon; tights: Target; crayon shoes: DIY here

Hey there, my favorite people! I come to you from the wonderful land of Thanksgiving Break (which, for me, is a whole week off. Don't hate. Remember, I did return to school in July. Even if it was July 31st, it was still July). The hubs and I are in sunny SoCal (again, is it just me or does saying "SoCal" make me sound like the jerk I am?) where we'll be hangin until we return home for some Thanksgivingness. In honor of Thanksgiving (which marks the end of fall and the beginning of Christmas-freaking-everywhere), I'm sharing with you a backlog of fall-ish projects that have been created in el art room-o over the last coupla weeks. I thought you might enjoy a wee bit of crafting with the fam after you've all recovered from the after effects of tryptophan (btw, you know that if you read about something on WebMD, A. You prolly have whatever disease you just read about and B. You will prolly be dead my morning. My advice? Don't read WebMD).
I hope all y'all have a great week of giving thanks (even my buds not living in 'merica!) and devouring entirely too much food with those you love. Until next time, I'd love to hear what Thanksgiving traditions you have, aside from participating in some super rad fall crafts, of course!
 Even Asha the Cat was perplexed by my two dif colored legs (actually, she could care less, she's just here begging for food. Because, as you can see, we never feed her). So the deal is, I really would love for some genius hose company (not to be confused with "hoes company", ahem) out there to start making two-diff-colored-leg tights. But until they do, I'm stuck wearing one pair then only wearing the leg of another and wrapping and tucking the spare leg. This works if, and only if, the spare leg that's tucked doesn't fall out and then dangle between your legs like some sort of deflated manhood. Not that I know anything about that. AHHHH-hem.
My afternoon clay class created these one-hour created-and-glazed turkeys using fall leaves and an orange-sized piece of clay a coupla weeks ago. We began by twisting the clay into two equal pieces. One piece was used for the pinch pot body. For the other piece, the kids laid a leaf down veiny side up, pounded their clay into it, traced around the shape of their leaf with a skewer stick and pealed off the leaf. The clay leaf was then attached to the pinch pot. The excess clay that was cut from the leaf tracing was then used to form a coil for the head and parts of the face. The kids really loved this easy project and even got carried away creating hats and bow-ties for their turkey.
 Field Trippin Tuesday: I took my second grade students to see the Kandinsky exhibit at The Frist Center on Tuesday. It was a ton of fun. I felt kinda silly cuz I kept forgetting I was wearing my Kandinsky dress until the docents, security guards and just about everyone else pointed it out to me. They were all, "Where did you get that dress?!" Don't ask me why but I get all goofy when I answer and always say, "Uh, I made it?" with a question mark at the end. Big Dork. jacket: Modcloth; Kandinsky Dress: DIY here; tights: Target; Frye Boots: Journeys, years ago 
Some of the kids in clay class opted to create a peacock instead of a turkey and those turned out super cute as well. And I love that one flipped her pinch pot so her turkey could work double duty (btw, NEVER say the words "double duty" to the under-10 set for they will lose their minds) as a bowl or cup or holder-of-many-a-small-things.
 Crayola Sweater Wednesday: Have y'all left a comment here to enter to win my lil Crayola Giveaway Contest? If you haven't, what in the world is wrong with you?! The winner will be announced next week so get on it, kids! dress: Anthro, last season; tights: Target; shoes: Dolls by Nina; necklace: The Paper Source

A coupla weeks ago my first grade friends printed and stitched up these leaf print wall hangings. For the printing process, we used Gelli-Arts printing plates but if you don't have those, have no fear. You can create your own gelatin printing plates by visiting here and following my relatively decent directions. I have the kids tons of different fall-colored fabric options to pick from. After they created both their positive and negative leaf prints, they had the chance to use sewing machines to stitch them together (totally supervised of course. I'm not that crazy).
 Put a Belt on It: Y'all. When I spotted this belt on etsy, I was all, OMG, I gotta have this in my life! I think it has super secret art teacherin magical powers. Although, when my fourth grade class came to art on this particular day, one girl was all, "Is that it? Where's the rest of your crazy outfit?!" And I was all, "DID YOU NOT NOTICE MY BELT?!" Kids, these days. So hard to please. vintage dress: thrifted; belt: etsy; tights: Target; shoes: Anthro
I was fortunate to have some local college kids in my room to help with the stitching portion of the project. While a handful of kids worked on stitching, the rest used Sculpey clay and skewers to create those beads that you see at the ends of the skewer sticks. For extra fall crafting fun, you could make necklaces with the Sculpey. Oh! And if you don't have access to a kiln, you could easily make miniature turkeys using the Sculpey and the directions for the clay turkey above. You see, your T-day crafting options are limitless. 
 Early Morning Saturday: I forgot to snap a photo one day this week and the totes ridic thing is, I can't even remember what day it was or what I wore! So just before our long flight on Saturday, I snapped this photo. I love to be comfy on the plane while I'm spread out with my assortment of crafts (I took along knitting needles and some embroidery madness). So far, all my attempts at crafting have been in vain. Oh well, it's vacay, right? dress: Betsy Johnson, Buffalo Exchange; jacket: Lucky Brand; scarf: Urban Outfitters; necklace: made by me, DIY here 
Enjoy your final days of fall, y'all!

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Thursday, November 20, 2014

In the Art Room: Our Gallery of Gratitude

 Do you ever get those ideas that come outta no where (usually while you are in the middle of doing something totally unrelated like cleaning the cat's liter box or brushing your teeth. Not at the same time, of course, as that'd be all kinds of nasty). You know, a thought that's like a big ole slap in the face and think to yourself: OMG, that's, like, a decent idea! I might actually be able to do this!

Well, that's pretty much how the idea of creating a Gallery of Gratitude came to me. This past weekend. Which means we busted out this bad boy in a week. Also which is totes a record for me as I currently hold the title of Slowest Art Teacher in the Universe. Not that I'm braggin' or anything, just statin' the facts, ma'am. And mans. 
 Since we are currently doing a Be Nice campaign at our school (we started last week by writing kind notes about each other's artwork. You can read more about that here.), I've decided to have the kids "give nice a try" with a new task each week. This week, I thought it would be great for the kids to show gratitude (which was also our word of the week, see how I did that?) to the folks that help them each and every day. I decided that my third and fourth grade students would draw portraits and write messages of gratitude (as they have an hour and could bust them out); my second grade would also write messages and decorate the frames (they've only got 30 minutes of art time); first grade would create oil pastel hearts and send their heart out to someone special; and kindergarten would create a handprint to give someone in the school a high five. 

With all that in my shockingly small brain, I went to the bookkeeper (one of my fave people, hi, Julie!) Monday morning and asked for a list of everyone that works in the school. I was thinking, eh, this should be easy for the kids. I mean, there's prolly only 45 folks that work in the building. WRONG, y'all! There are 71 super awesome people that teach, administer, parol, clean, cook, nurse and help my students. I realized then that this was gonna be a bigger undertaking then I'd imagined. 
 But the kids jumped right in. For my older students, we talked about gratitude and all the folks that help us at school. Then we chatted about how to draw a portrait. Each student was given a 4" X 6 1/2" piece of paper, a Sharpie and allowed to chose the name of the person they'd like to draw.
 At their tables, I had placed copies of last year's yearbooks (this was a big help, y'all) and a head tracing template. I decided to offer the template to the kids (it was optional) so that they'd feel confident with the head shape and be ready to jump right in to drawing.
 Once the pencil drawing was complete, the kids traced their lines with a thin Sharpie and added color with colored pencils. For most, this took an hour. For some, they had time to also write their message of gratitude.
 Many message of gratitude and picture frames were created by my second grade students. They had only one session of art this week due to our art museum field trip. Again, these kids were allowed to pick a name for whom they'd like to write. 
 While I was gone on my field trip to the local art museum with my second grade students, one of the assistant teachers at my school was my sub. I left her directions on having the first grade classes create these radiating hearts. 
The following art class, I had glued their hearts to a frame and had them write who their heart would go out to. This was great as it only took them 5 minutes and then we could return to our regularly scheduled art-making program.
 On Monday, I had a couple of my kindergarten classes. As they wrapped up their landscape paintings, they came to me for a hand print. As I printed their hand, we chatted about gratitude and I asked just who they'd like to give a high five to. After printing their hands, I jotted down on their paper "High five to Officer Graham for keeping our school safe". Those kindergarteners really had some sweet high fives to give.
 I'm happy to say that we were able to get the gallery (almost) complete and hung today! There are just a couple more messages of gratitude to be written but as it stands, everyone has a portrait on the Gallery of Gratitude wall. Or, walls, I should say. There's actually another wall across from the one above that is full of portraits, high fives and hearts. 
 I knew the kids would be excited to see their drawings and share their notes. What I wasn't expecting was the overwhelming response from those that I work with. Each was thrilled to see their portrait and read the children's comments. Several snapped photos of their portraits on their phones and have requested to take their portrait home. I do believe the kids accomplished our goal of showing gratitude to everyone on our school. Just in time for Thanks-Giving!

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