Showing posts with label world war II. Show all posts
Showing posts with label world war II. Show all posts

Sunday, February 12, 2012

DIY: You're Such a (Soda) Jerk!

I went and did something I promised myself I wouldn't do. I painted this here Valentine's Day canvas. I knew it would take me forever and that I'd just barely finish it in time to enjoy it...and...yet... I managed to convince myself to do it anyway. Here's how the conversation between Delusional Cassie and Sane-ish Cassie went down:

D.C. : Aw, look at all of these cute vintage Valentine's that keep popping up on pinterest! I should so totally paint one for the house.

S.C. : Absolutely not. You take forever to paint anything. Besides, it's kinda cheesy. Aren't you like thirty-seven or something?

D.C. : It's not cheesy, it's cute! And I swear, it won't take me that long, I'll just sketch it out and block it in. Piece of cake for this, ahem, thirty-six year old.

S.C.: You say so, Crazy.
After perusing pinterest for the perfect vintage valentine, I found this one. I absolutely love the girl (the hair! the red bow shoes! the heart shirt!) and the fact that she's chillin' at a soda fountain...but the rest of it was kind of lacking. I mean, I had to read the bit about being a working girl a couple of times before I got it (did I mention there is a Slow Cassie as well?). She just seemed too lonely and sad for a Valentine.
So I started sketching out some ideas. Instead of a poor working girl, I wanted a man-eatin' go-getter. Hence the fishnets and box of chocolates. And I wanted the object of her affection to be some cute -n- clueless soda jerk.
So I did some google-image-searching and found a plethora of soda jerks. After I created a sketch that I was happy with, I decided to tint and texture my canvas. I mixed up a warm yellow ochre and slathered it onto the canvas. Once dry, I sketched out my scene in pencil and started blocking in the colors.
Sadly for this dude, his flesh is a little multi-colored. Too much time in the tanning booth will do that to you, I hear. By the time I noticed his flesh inconsistencies, I was too tired of working on the painting to care.
Once I had the colors blocked in, I started going detail crazy. I decided I wanted the counter top to have a formica pattern so I attempted to paint tiny boomerangs with a one-haired brush. They ended up looking like hearts...which I kind of liked. I just had to add the fishnets as they are my favorite thing to wear. And what's a diner without a checkerboard floor? All of the outlining and lettering was done with a black paintbrush pen.
I have a small collection of vintage Valentine's that I picked up from an etsy shop last month. One thing I noticed about them is that they all have a play on words. As I was plotting and planning, I came up with the "So-da one you love is me?" My only regret is that I don't actually have him making a soda but what looks to be an strawberry shake. Oh well, hopefully the idea for that and the "fountain" reference at the bottom is still clear.
One of my favorite discoveries while soda-jerk-searching online was rediscovering this Norman Rockwell painting. When I became interested in creating art in high school, I found these sweet images so repulsive. I was just entirely too cool for nostalgic Rockwell paintings. Now, having the love for all things vintage that I do, I just adore his work. Especially when I discovered a collection of photographs that he snapped to create his paintings.
This makes me smile. Great, isn't it?
Well, would ya look at that, Sane-ish Cassie? It's finished! And hung right at the foot of my stairs for me to admire...for the next two days. Oh well. It did take much longer than expected but it was pretty fun regardless. Happy Valentine's Day!

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Monday, January 16, 2012

DIY: Love Letters

The Inspiration: When I was taking down my collection of vintage Christmas postcards, I fell in love with the backs of the cards.
I love getting mail. Especially hand-written letters. But people don't really do that any more. Well, they've not been writing to me, anyway.
Improvising: I racked my brain trying to find a way to create the perforated stamp edge. When I was in my sewing room, I noticed the rick-rack that the cat was chewing on. It worked perfectly.
When I was taking down my collection of Christmas postcards, I noticed the back of the cards for the first time. I loved the yellowed paper, the vintage typography, the flowing script of the sender, the post office seal. I sat down and read all of the postcards. My little collection is from the early 1900's. What I found interesting was how much the content of the letters seemed like it could have been written yesterday. "How are you? I'm sorry I've not written; Send your family my love; The weather here is mild for this time of year."
The Stamps: I have a collection of  vintage used stamps and I thought this one looked fitting. I was too lazy to do the research to see if these were actually World War II-era stamps.
 I'd already had it in my head that I wanted to do a little decorating around the house for Valentine's Day. I don't usually decorate for holidays, but I had so much fun morphing the house into my idea of a vintage Christmas, I decided I wanted to do something similar for Valentine's Day.
My Version: I lightly sketched the shape of the bell and free handed the detailing. I used these great pens by Faber-Castell  that I picked up at JoAnn's for the majority of the drawing. The only painted portions are the background and the stamps.
So with that thought in mind and with my new-found love of these postcards, I decided to create a couple of love letters. My head was still stuck in World War II-era  mode after finishing the embroidery of my sailor dress. I settled on the idea of having a young serviceman and his girlfriend exchange a postcard correspondence.
Penmanship: At the elementary school I attended, we did not have art class. So the closest thing for me was learning penmanship. I was not especially good at math and I totally didn't get that short vowel stuff, but penmanship I could do. Did you know that it is no longer taught in most elementary schools? Such a bummer.
 So I searched for and found some stamp designs. I had already settled on using on of my vintage postcards as the inspiration for the layout and typography. But what would I write? I didn't want it to come across as gag-me cheesy or The Notebook-esque because I'm like the antithesis of sappy. When I get an "I love you" from dear ole hubs, my reply is usually, "Whatever, I'm going to punch you in the face when you're sleeping tonight."
What it says: Dear Michael, I miss you darling very much. You say you won't get furlough that's bad. Don't dream too much now. Hoping to hear from you real soon sweetheart. As ever, Ann Jean
Obviously I couldn't write that punching-in-the-face business on one of my postcards so I googled "love letters from WW II".  I stumbled upon this beautiful story of a family of four siblings that discovered their father's love letters written to their mother during his time overseas. I poured over the site, reading each letter and the narrative that gave the back story. If you have time, I really think you should give it a look:
Typography: When did we stop being so fancy? When we started having everything made in China and stopped caring, I suppose.
I borrowed heavily from this site for the wording on the postcard below. I also used the addresses and what I could make out of the postage seal. These paintings will never leave my home so I am not worried about it upsetting the family. Though I suppose I should contact them out of courtesy. 
What it says: Dear Ann Jean, Please excuse the long delay in writing to you. This delay is in no way an indication of lapse of memory for you have been on my mind from one night in Boston. So much has happened and it is forbidden to tell all that it makes letter writing difficult. Ann I close this short note as I am very tired for I have traveled 125 miles over these rough mountainous roads today. Love, Michael
The website only has the letters that the husband wrote to his wife. And the funny thing is, the husband's name is Mitch (my hub's name). So I decided to change it to Michael. I just thought it would be too weird otherwise. We already get enough comments about the nude painting of the two of us laying on a bear rug that hangs above our mantle.
The Stamp: I found the other stamp design on pinterst. I love the dove with the shadow of the airplane and the letter in it's beak. I think I have Put-a-Bird-on-It syndrome. If you don't know what I'm talking about, you must leave here and go to youtube pronto.
 The writing I used for Ann Jean's letter came from another website with love letters. Again, I had to shorten the writing a bit to make it fit the format of the postcard. You can read a multitude of World War II letters here:
Finished: This is how the two postcards look together in our dining room.
Hubs said no one would believe the size of the postcards unless a giant object was photographed next to them. Guess what giant object he had in mind.
Each postcard is about 24" x 18". I wrapped the edges in black satin ribbon and hung them in my dining room this afternoon. Right after the postman delivered the mail...which, for a change, included a little something for me. I'll have to share with you the sweet gift my brother's girlfriend Elsa made for me next time.
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Tuesday, January 10, 2012

DIY: Pirate Style

Apparently, I've much to learn about fashion. Today, I was told, "Mrs. Stephens, I like your pirate dress." Er, my what? "You're a pirate! Cuz that big black collar thingie makes you look like a one." Sweet.
Hiya and thank you for visiting my blog! I'm interrupting this post to say that I recently finished another embroidered dress which you can read about here:

I thrifted this '70's era black sailor dress at the end of the summer. I'd been looking for a little sailor get-up and this seemed to do the trick...except for one tragic flaw. It was booorrrriiiing. If I'm going to wear something, it better be glittery, bedazzled, patternedy (a fashion term, look it up) and just overall over-the-top tacky. And I kinda fell asleep just looking at this number.
When I told a kindergartener today, "You look nice with your shirt tucked in," I was informed, "It's not called 'tucked in', it's called 'rodeo style'." Yeehaw.
I knew I wanted to alter it somehow but nothing was coming to me. Ideas never do when I sit down and focus on them. They usually come to me when I'm falling asleep or doing something extremely mundane, like attending a faculty meeting (haha! I kid!). So I had this dress hanging in my sewing room for ages just waiting for the idea to come.
Not too long ago, I woke up early, washed and straightened my hair and went to school bumpit-less. When my first class arrived, one of my fashion-savvy first graders said, "Where is the beautiful Mrs. Stephens? Your hair is so flat." Humph.
 This idea actually came from this lovely blog:'' A couple of months ago she showcased a beautiful skirt that she had embroidered pin-up girls all over. I decided to do the same. Seeing as how my dress has a sailor style, I thought my little pin-ups would WW II era sailor girls.
The next day, when I had this same student in my class, I was OF COURSE wearing my biggest baddest bumpit. She was so thrilled that she decided to pat me on the head and say, "Good, Mrs. Stephens!" Little did she know that those bumpits have teeth and when she patted my head, they poked and startled her causing her to shriek and pull back her hand. Revenge is so sweet.
 I scoured pinterest for pin-ups and started sketching out and altering my girls. There weren't too many sailors girls to be found, so for some of these, I added sailor-esque details like the anchor and the steering wheel. I know it's not called that but I'm too lazy to find the correct term. Stern? That sounds right.
After a very in-depth demonstration on rainbow printing today, I asked my fourth graders if they had any questions. One student raised her hand and asked, "I just have to know, how many pairs of tights are you wearing right now?" Oh boy.
My favorite thing about working on this dress, aside from being done with it, was the people I met while working on it. I only work on embroidery while traveling. It gives me something to do in the car or on the plane. On a recent trip out to California, I took my embroidery and met two truly delightful women. Both were so excited when I took my work out. They had both embroidered in the past, one even worked as an embroidery designer in New York, and both lived during World War II. It was such a delight hearing their stories and receiving letters from them upon my return home. Chatting with them has me working on my next project. And, no, it's not a pirate's outfit!
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