Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Spoiled Rotten

Just some of the birthday loot: great books from my aunt, my bro and a sweet friend; beautiful bouquets from favorite friends.
 Holy cow. I am super spoiled. My birthday this past Friday was quite the momentous occasion complete with entirely too many cupcakes, Happy Birthday songs (once on our school-wide morning announcements, several times during art classes and once again at a restaurant during lunch -- hey, anything for free dessert, people) and a treasure of birthday booty. These goodies were just too great not to share. Not included in photos were the countless notes and drawings from students, the mountain of trashy magazines and chocolates from hubs (does anything beat that combination?) and cards and gifts from friends. I don't suppose turning thirty-ahem-seven will be that bad after all.
My mother-in-law is an estate-sale-aholic for which I am very glad. She showed up with this vintage paper suitcase wrapped in a bow. I love how it looks as though it is smiling!
Here's a peak at just some of the vintage goodness inside the suitcase: vintage fabric and aprons, never-used watercolor sets, a child's sewing basket, books and a group photo of women with their children from the 1920's. This is the kind of stuff that I could sift through, hold, touch and smell for hours.
One estate sale had been at the home of an artist. I was so excited to see the artist's charcoal landscape drawings but this portrait is my favorite. I am now on the hunt for the perfect thrift store frame to put her in. Isn't she a doll?
Watercolor set. I wonder if the Bradley is the one of later Milton and Bradley, the game board makers, fame?
I love the cover of this vintage coloring book, so cute!

A close-up of a child's vintage sewing basket. Her wee little embroidered stitches are far better than mine.
A lovely little hat and gloves set. Too bad my man hands are too big for 'em.
On the day of my birthday, my sweet student teacher returned with a book she had created with the kids while I was away in NYC. She snapped a group photo of each class and quoted each student (that's almost 400!) on what they like about me as their art teacher. Can you imagine? She presented it to me during one of my classes, so I read what that particular class had to say. Needless to say, I almost lost it. It was the most touching gift I've received in a long time. Thank you, Lauren!
I thought I'd share with you some of the funnier things the kids had to say...it's hilarious what they pick up on.
General consensus? I'm silly, I talk funny, I dress wacky, the kids love art. I do hope they're learning something as well!
Yeah...there's probably a reason. Like the other teachers have taste.
Thanks for indulging me, I just had to share my birthday bounty with you!

Saturday, March 10, 2012

DIY: Late for a Very Important Date

I think I was asked, "Excuse me, but do you have the time?" about a dozen times when I wore this dress. Yeah, I do, it's time for you to get a watch, fool! Don't ask me why that question requires a Mr. T-esque response. It just does.
Lemme tell you, this DIY dress has been a wee bit of a headache. It began with this uber short dress that I snagged from the resale shop Plato's Closet. Don't ask me what I was thinking when I bought it. I mean, the thing is short. It would require me to shave my legs above the knee and, well, that just ain't happening. So this too-short dress was doomed to the back of my closet along with my high school prom dresses. Yes, I still have them. Hoarding is a disease, people. I can't help it.
I've always loved Alice in Wonderland, especially the freaked out, late-for-a-date white rabbit.
The inspiration for this dress came from the little rabbit above. I've had this idea of printing my own fabric for a while so when I couldn't find any pocket watch themed fabric online, I decided to create my own. I used a piece of 3" X 6" Soft-Kut and some carving tools that I happened to have at the house (because I'm a hoarder, remember?) However, if you don't have such things at your very well-organized and unhoarder-esque pad, then I suggest you drop by your local hobby/craft shop and snag you some.
Erm, yeah. So after just finishing a big printmaking unit with my fourth grade students in which we discussed how with printing, everything is in reverse, guess who forgot when carving the numbers on the clock? Originally, the right side had the III carved into it when it should have had a VIII. Headache #1.
Even after messing up the numbers on the pocket watch, I was still determined to roll with it. I convinced myself that I'd hand paint the correct numbers on the clock later. Oh the lies I tell myself.

I decided to use black fabric paint to print the block. That turned out to be Headache #2. The paint was too runny and printed terribly. The details of the clock were lost among big blobs of black paint. So I did a little research online and found that some folks had better luck printing on fabric with oil based inks. I ordered some immediately from amazon.com which proved to be Headache #3. The order did not ship directly from amazon but one of their suppliers who decided to take two weeks to ship the ink. My recommendation? Buy directly from an art supplier online.

The good news is that the ink printed beautifully on the fabric. I  let it dry for over 24 hours before sewing it to the bottom of my dress as the oil dried very slowly. And don't even ask me how I plan to wash the dress (dry cleaning? spot washing?) as I'm sure that will prove to be Headache #4.

To complete my White Rabbit dress theme, I decided to order these tights from this super amazing tights shop on etsy: http://www.etsy.com/shop/TejaJamilla.The seller is very sweet and always quick to respond to emails. I have another pair of her tights in my collection, a super cute pair tights that you can see here: http://cassiestephens.blogspot.com/2012/01/what-i-wore-this-week-not-that-i.html
Finally, I decided to change out the buttons to match the hem. They were originally some plastic blue buttons. I used one of those make-em-yourself button makers and used the same mustard fabric from the bottom of the dress. And, of course, I had to wear one of my white rabbit belt buckles. I even managed to find this piece of vintage fabric in my stash that brought all of the colors of my look together (according to me, anyway). So being a hoarder has some benefits. Now, don't forget to reset your clocks!

What the Art Teacher Wore #9

Just-in-from-NYC Monday: The great thing about soft and fuzzy sweaters is their soft fuzziness. The bad thing about soft and fuzzy sweaters is that a hundred little grubby hands want to touch them. Although we did have a nice little chat about the difference between angora, wool  and acrylic yarn. sweater: Ann Taylor, thrifted; dress: Anthropologie purchased at Buffalo Exchange in NYC; belt: Pinkyotto, a little boutique in NYC; shoes: Dolls by Nina
 Oh what a wacky week this one has been. It started off with a return home from a fantastic trip to NYC. And like any trip, I always feel like I could use a day or three to recuperate. Thankfully I was able to return to a smooth sailing ship as I'd left Lauren at the helm. But Wednesday was her last day! Neither of us are good at goodbyes so we just said a sad goodbye-for-now and pretended that Thursday wouldn't come. But it did. And my room was so quite without her. When the kids walked in and looked around, they turned to me in a panic and asked, "Where's Ms. Goodwin?!" Thankfully, she'd promised to return on Friday to which they sighed a whew! of relief.

Friday ended up being a rather Freaky Friday what with the full moon, our school's half day and my birthday. The kids were beside themselves wishing me a happy birthday and asking if I liked the gift they worked on with Ms. Goodwin. Er, gift? Wha? When she dropped in with the book she created with all of the kids in the school, I just lost it. Right in front of the kids. A near blubbery meltdown. I mean, it was the most touching gift I've received in a very long time. I promise to share it (and my other fab gifties) in an upcoming post. But have your tissue handy. It's a tear-jerker.

My birthday plans for the weekend? Sleeping in. Cleaning this house. Reading my sweet book from the kids. I do hope you enjoy yours whatever you decide to do!
I am so much in love with this belt that I regret not having bought more. I checked their online shop...but no such luck. Sadness. Guess I'll just have to make a return visit to the East Village.
Look at that sweet face! I was so excited to see her upon my return. She did a fantastic job teaching the kids while I was away. I don't even think they knew I was gone! Her cute dress is an Old Navy number and her boots are from the Nashville Flea Market.
Trench Coat Tuesday: Okay, I have to tell you, I once saw this girl wearing a full skirt trench coat and I almost died. Like, my heart stopped and I couldn't breath and everything. It was gorge! So when I saw this one at Goodwill I just had to have it. And since it was missing it's belt, I've just been using strips of fabric that match my outfit to singe the waist.
sweater: thrifted a million years ago, the sweet little pearls are falling off but I just love the thing to bits; dress: Target, thrifted; tights: Target; shoes: Clarks
I love this look, don't you? I'm a sucker for bringing an outfit together with pops of color and Lauren did this beautifully.
Becoming-Monet's-Garden Wednesday: Here's a photo I took at the MOMA last weekend. The kids are currently studying Monet and working on a Monet-inspired mural. To introduce Monet and celebrate Lauren's last day (sniff), we decided to dress as Monet's garden as twins (which is kinda funny cuz Lauren has a twin!). She even made us matching water lily hair clips and let me install a bumpit in her hair. Because we're corny like that. Don't hate.
both sweaters and my dress: vintage, thrifted; lauren's dress, shoes and tights: Target; belts: made by me; my shoes: thrifted
Do-You-Have-the-Time Thursday: So I finally finished this dress. It was a DIY headache but I'll share more with you on that in a later post. sweater: vintage, thrifted; dress: Plato's Closet; tights: a fantastic fellow etsy seller whose shop is here: http://www.etsy.com/shop/TejaJamilla?ref=pr_shop_more
It's-My-Party-I'll-Dress-Like-a-Cupcake Friday: Yay! It's my birthday! I have decided that I don't care about the number anymore. It just keeps increasing like my IQ. sweater: vintage, thrifted; dress: Buffalo Exchange in Soho; tights: Target; shoes and bag: Irregular Choice
Okay, I love these shoes by Irregular Choice. Seriously. I mean, just look at them -- they've got it all -- dangly charms, polka dots, a clear heel, what's not to love? I tracked down their store in Soho and it was just as wild as these shoes. I knew I had to get them and a matching purse as my NYC birthday gift to myself.
To announce the upcoming book fair which has a beachy theme, my P.E. Teacher buddy and I dressed the part. Except she surprised me at the end by giving me the birthday hat, balloons and a hardy "happy birthday" song. On the morning announcements. In front of the whole school. Ah, vengeance will be mine!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

In the Art Room: Croc-O-Nile Puppetry

Sweet little first grader with her crocodile puppet.
This is a bitter sweet post for me. Today is Lauren's last day in my art room. Come Monday she'll be off being an incredible art-teacher-to-be somewhere else with some other lucky art teacher and her students. I look forward to seeing what she'll do in her new assignment but certainly wish she could stay. I thought I'd share with you one of the many amazing projects she did with the artists at my school.
Lauren reading a book on crocodiles snagged from the library. Did you know that there are 14 different types? And that they have 3 eyelids? And they carry their newborns around in their mouth? Me neither.
When Lauren began student teaching, my first grade students were beginning a paper weaving unit. And while the kids love weaving and learn so much from it, I'm always at a bit of a loss as to what to do with the completed weavings. One year we turned the weaving into the body of a fish. Another year we used black paper and cut out the negative shape of a butterfly to go over the weaving. This year I knew I wanted to stay in keeping with our Egyptian theme. So when I saw a photo on pinterest where a teacher had used the weaving as the body of a crocodile, I knew that's what I wanted to do.
After Lauren read crocodile facts to the kids, we had Kyle the Crocodile come out and ask the kids questions. The puppet is by folkmanis and is extremely realistic. If they kids answered Kyle's questions correctly, they were able to touch his tail...at which point I had him whip around and nip at the kids' nose causing complete crazy fun chaos.
I shared with Lauren the photo on pinterest and my crocodile puppet, she said, "Can the kids make a crocodile puppet?" I kinda thought she was crazy but told her to make a mock up and see how it would work. I swear in a matter of 15 minutes she came back to me with a completed puppet that involved so many different media and learning experiences we just knew it had to happen. If you scroll down to the last photo, you'll see Lauren's example.

So began our crocodile puppet lesson. The first part of the lesson involved the kids creating their looms. We create our looms together on the floor. Using 9" X 12" paper, the kids fold their paper in half "hamburger" style. On the opposite end of the fold, they make a very small fold 1" from the top. That small fold is the "stop line" for their cutting. Using scissors and starting at the bottom fold, they cut a vertical line to the stop line, thus creating what looks like a pair of pants. We take each paint leg and cut from the middle to the stop line creating four equal parts. Finally we cut each one of those creating eight parts. Including math terms like half, fourth and eighth is always a good idea.

For the weaving portion, we had the kids create patterned strips of paper. If you look closely at the weavings, you'll see that the strips of paper (er, wefts) have a smaller paper on top of them. This created a kind of texture for the crocodile's body.
The printing idea for this portion of the lesson came from Cathy Topal's Thinking with a Line.
After the weavings were complete, students began their work on the other parts of the crocodile's body. They learned that the crocodiles use their tail for defense. To create the shape, the kids were shown how to fold their paper "hot dog style" and cut from one angle of the rectangle to another with a diagonal line. Open the paper and viola! triangle.
Yeah, this is pretty much how my tables look. Scissors out, pencils on the table and messy hands. It's the art room, I like to keep it real.
Lauren also spent some time chatting with them the difference between printing (when you press something down and pick it back up) and painting (when you press something down and move it around). They also reviewed their line vocabulary.

After printing, students began creating the pieces of their crocodiles face. They created eyes, a nose, feet and teeth. Crocodile bits were kept in envelopes with students names on them.
Inside the mouth of the crocodile is this little mechanism. The kids folded these without any problem. We used 12" X 18" sheets of cheap manilla paper. Here's how:
  1. Tri-fold the paper
  2. Fold the tri-fold in half creating a "V"
  3. Take the ends of the "V" and fold back creating a "W"
Squeeze the openings and you'll see two pockets. This is here your fingers go. Speaking of fingers, look at my old lady hands, ew! Guess my dreams of begin a hand model are over.

I've used this puppet fold for many puppet-y projects with the kids. They love it and get really creative.
Once the puppet mechanism was created, the kids had to cut out large four triangles from 9" X 12" paper. Two cream colored ones to be glued to the inside of the mouth and two green for the outside.
Gluing on the crocodile bits. Both the eyes and the nostrils were created with a "foot", or a folded end, so that they could be glued down easily.
The expressions on each croc was hilariously unique. This one is waiting for his limbs and his teeth.
The kids cut out four legs with the help of a template. Sadly I didn't get a photo of any with their teeth in. Small white triangles were cut out and glued inside for teeth.

This project took many art classes. As some of you know, I have half an hour classes so we had to take baby steps with this project. But the end result was worth it. It's one of those projects the kids won't soon forget.

In line for the Crocodile Parade.
For the end of the project, Lauren had students go on a crocodile parade. She had come up with a tale to of how a polar bear had stolen their baby crocodiles. The students followed the paw prints of the bear (paper prints that Lauren had strewn throughout the school) until they found their crocodile babies. The kept the babies in their mouths like they had learned crocs do and used their tail to fight off the polar bear. The kids loved every minute of it.
Lauren with her crocodile puppet example.
Sigh. So that was the amazing crocodile puppet project created by this amazing young art teacher. I'm so sad that she's leaving, you don't even know! I'm sure crocodile tears will be flowing at some point today. She's promised to come back...and when she does, I'll be certain to photograph her outfits. Best wishes at your new school placement, Laruen!

Sunday, March 4, 2012

What the Art Teacher Wore #8

Wacky Hat Day Monday: Best student comment of the day..."Taste the rainbow, Mrs. Stephens". I always do. hat: (yes, I paid money for it) amazon.com; shirt and tights: Target; vest: vintage, thrifted; skirt: etsy.com; shoes: John Fluevog
Well, hello there! Long time, no blogginess. I'm just in from an amazing trip to New York City. I was there for an art teacher convention (that's NAEA for those of you in the know) and while I'm exhausted, I'm so excited by everything that I experienced. I only have two regrets...one, I didn't get to spend more time with Lauren before she ends her student teaching stint with me. She leaves me next week! She is incredibly amazing and I am going to miss her. Sigh.

My other regret...? That I missed part of Read Across America Week! I mean, it's the one time I get to dress like a fruitloop and no one thinks anything of it. Except for the checkout lady at Kroger who asked me, "Are you going to some sort of costume party?" Erm, yeah. It happens everyday in my classroom. But it's invitation only, so sorry, sista.

Well, that's all I got for now. I'm off to unpack my treasures. More later, friends!
For Monday's school-wide morning announcements, I read The Cat in the Hat, which is a REALLY long and difficult book to read, FYI. While doing so, Lauren and my P.E. teacher buddy dressed as Thing 1 and Thing 2 and accosted me with toilet paper and other silliness. Do you see why I'll miss Thing 1?
On Lauren: Sweet little bird shirt came from Old Navy. I went out that very afternoon and bought myself one too. I'm very Single White Female like that. Belt made by Lauren. Beret courtesy of Goodwill.
I love the clever way she made her belt...it loops through the back. She so smart, she go to college and stuff.
Wear Words on Your Shirt Tuesday: Sorry, I'm not a t-shirt gal. I did unearth this artsy one from my Goodwill/restyle stash. It shows the tools to making art.collared shirt and skirt: thrifted; t-shirt: some museum shop; dotted tights: Marshall's; shoes: Clarks; hair clip: made by me
The shirt featured a pallet...and so I made this pallet hair clip to match. I was packing-procrastinating the night before, what can I say?
Lauren wrote out the ENTIRE Harold and the Purple Crayon book onto her shirt. Adorable, right?
Hello, New York Wednesday: Our convention was held at the Hilton New York which just so happened to be across the street from Rockefeller Center. dress: anthropologie; tights: Target; boots: Hunter; sweater: Urban Outfitters found at Goodwill
Meet Me at the MET Thursday: What amazing masterpieces this building holds. We spent hours digesting some of the world's most incredible art. sweater: thrifted; skirt: Free People bought at TJMaxx years ago; hat: Old Navy; boots: Hunter
Meanwhile, back at the ranch...Lauren had an amazing time teaching the kids. Her lovely top came from Old Navy. Look at that hair!
What I wore most of my trip: coat: Benetton; scarf: knitted by me
Under the Coat: sweater: anthropologie bought at Buffalo Exchange; skirt: vintage, thrifted; shirt: Target
Dress Like a Book Character Day: Wilma, Waldo's lady friend. Cutest costume ever!