Wednesday, April 11, 2012

In the Artroom: Monet's Waterlilies

Me: You painted both snails the same didn't want to use variety? Student: Well, it's a Mama Snail and a Baby Snail. No one will know that if they are different colors. Me: (mental head slap) You are a genius.
This week back to school has been so exciting! Everyday, I walk into my room, open the kiln and gasp at the awesome creations of my students. This week we've been glazing the clay projects completed before spring break and the students have been totally rockin' it. I thought I'd share with you this kid-approved lesson.
I was told that the Tooth Fairy likes to chill in Monet's Garden on her off nights.
We've been learning all about the artist Claude Monet and just finished completing our Mammoth Monet Mural before break. During that unit of study we also chatted extensively about ponds and waterlilies. The kids were thrilled when told they were going to create a clay waterlily of their own.
I shared the photos of Monet's Garden with the kids that I snapped while at the Moma in March. The best question yet, "Where did his mom get paper that was so big?"
A lovely lily close up.
Pac Man vs. Sponge Bob's Buddy Patrick.
 For this project, you'll need the flowing:
  • An Army of Amazing Moms
  • Tons of clay
  • A class set of clay mats
  • Skewers
  • Waterlily and Lily Pad templates
  • Mayco Wonderglaze
  • Toothbrushes
  • Cups of water
Okay, about that first thing on your list, I'm serious about that one. Let me tell you why: I have 1/2 hour art classes. Many teachers wouldn't even attempt this kind of crazy with such short classes. But with an Army of Amazing Moms, anything is possible. Now, I have The Best Moms in my room, but I'm sure you've got some pretty fabulous ones in your school just dying to help out. All you have to do is ask, it's really that simple.

This lesson is a version of one originally created by one of the most incredible art teachers I know, The Clay Lady. Not familiar with her? Watch her demos on youtube, she rocks.
 To create the waterlilies, the kids need to do the following:
  1. Pound out clay to Oreo thickness and trace a waterlily and lily pad as seen in top clay photo.
  2. Bend two points of the star upward (as shown above), over lap and smoosh clay together.
  3. Continue bending points of star upward, overlapping and smooshing until entire lily is complete. It should look like a closed flower.
  4. Use fingertips to gently bend flower pedals outward.
  5. Toothbrush the bottom of the lily and a place on the lily pad and attach.
This artist used the back of her brush to create "perfect dots" and stripes on her bumble bee.
After that, I explained to the kids that they could add one or two creations to their lily of their liking. I did a little snail and insect demo but they had much bigger ideas. "How do you make a hummingbird? The Toothfairy? A Tarantula?"
A frog chillin' at his pad.
I told them this...anything can be created out of clay with three things: a sphere, a slab and a coil. So, stop and think about what you want to create and decide which of those three things would be the best for the job. And, just look at this variety! They got it.
I was told that this is a one-eyed version of Sponge Bob's buddy Gary. Meow.
Now let's chat about glazing. This Stoke and Coat glaze by Mayco is where it's at. The colors are vibrant and the consistency is very fluid. I dole out the glaze in styrofoam egg cartons along with cups of water for brush cleaning.
A first grader created this hummingbird. I know, right?
 Before glazing, we have a nice loooong chat about my two rules:
  1. Do not glaze the bottom (it'll stick to the kiln).
  2. Do not layer different glaze colors.
Another hummingbird.
Because of the countless choices of colors, some kids go a little bonkers and just want to glaze their project to death. I give them free reign to add patterns like dots and stripes but I stick hard and fast to that no-overlapping-twenty-colors-on-your-piece rule.
And the end result? Nothing short of adorable, says me. And my new friend, Happy Buggy-Eyed Snail.

Thanks for dropping by!

Monday, April 9, 2012

DIY: Rosy Flower Pots

My collection of Rosy Flowers Pots. So easy to make, it's addictive...apparently.
Today's DIY is one that would make the late painter/teacher Bob Ross proud. I remember watching him as a kid on Saturdays when the cartoons trailed off. He made painting look so easy and he enjoyed every minute of it. In fact, one of my favorite artist quotes is a Bob Ross euphemism: People might look at you a bit funny, but it's okay. Artists are allowed to be a bit different. Need further convincing of his genius? Read here.

Now to my knowledge, Bob usually stuck with landscapes and "happy little trees". Currently, I'm addicted to all things flowery, so I thought I'd share with an easy way to paint "happy pink roses."
 For this happy painting endeavor, you'll need:
  • Cheap acrylic paint in the three colors shown above. Each bottle is less than a $1.
  • A couple of angled brushes. I tried doing this with a flat brush...and failed.
  • Spray paint to cover your plastic flower pot. I used turquoise.
  • Modge Podge to seal the paint. 
  • A plastic flower pot...not a terra cotta pot. The paint sticks better to the plastic and they're less expensive. 
  • Parchment paper or anything to cover your work area.
The day before, I spray painted the flower pots. Once dry, I was ready to paint...
 To load your brush, you'll first dip the brush in the pink color. Then dip the front of the brush, or the toe, into the white and the back of the brush, the heel, into the red. I used the larger angled brush for the large flowers and the smaller for the leaves, stem and smaller flowers.
 On your practice paper, swipe your brush back and forth to blend the colors. You might even want to practice painting the entire flower a couple of times on your paper before attacking your pot.
 Paint a curve line on your pot.
 Paint two more curved lines on either side.
 Add a curved line in the center and one on either side.
 Create a curve that is going the opposite direction.
Underneath that, create a series of flower petals using a curve like the letter U...and viola! A Rosy Pot!
 Once you've got the hang of it, you can make your flowers a little more organic. For this one, I followed the same order of brush strokes but instead of using a curved line, I used more of a wavy curve.
 The leaves are very easy. I used the smaller angled brush for them. I started with the stem, dragging the brush from the flower off of the pot. Then I started at the end of the leaf, dragging the brush to the stem.
To finish, I added a bit of bright green on the leaves. Once dry, I coated the pot in glossy Modge Podge, planted some Begonias and hung it up.

I do hope you'll give this a try, it's pretty simple. If you mess up, just wipe the pot with a damp towel and try again. In the words of Bob Ross, Even if you've never painted before, this one you can do. And if you are a learner that benefits from watching a tutorial, I suggest visiting here. Have fun!

Friday, April 6, 2012

DIY: That 70's Shoe

Outfit details: dress: anthropologie from a couple summers ago; flower: H&M; shoes: diy'ed by me; belt: made by me and soon for sale in my shop
Hey, kids! Can you tell I'm just a little stoked about my new shoes? I wore them out to brunch today with a friend and received so many compliments. And, being the bragasaurus that I am, you know the first thing out of my mouth was, "Thanks! I made them!" I thought I'd share with you how I did it. It's so easy!
The completed shoe. For other shoe diy's, look here.
For this super easy project, you'll need the following: 
  • platform or wedge sandals (what do they call 'em these days?) I picked mine up at Goodwill.
  • fabric
  • glue ... I like to use Aleene's Tacky Glue found at most hobby stores.
  • matte Modge Podge
  • exacto knife
  • paint brush
 And here are the steps I took:
  1. Lay shoe on top of fabric and cut, just like above photo. You'll need two pieces of fabric for each shoe.
  2. Paint glue on to platform quickly. Be careful not to paint on the rubber sole of the shoe or the shoe itself because it will stick.
  3. Place fabric over glue and smooth down.
  4. Flip the shoe over and repeat this process on the other side.
  5. Then repeat this process again on the other shoe.
Once the shoes have dried (I waited about 30 minutes), use an exacto knife and carefully cut along the edge of the shoe. I found that it really helps to use a new exacto blade.
Don't worry about the fabric fraying. Your final step, once the cutting is complete, is to cover the entire base of the shoe with Modge Podge. That will prevent the shoe from fraying any further. It also will add a protective coating to the shoe. I prefer the matte Modge Podge for this type of shoe because I didn't want them to be shiny.
And viola! These are a pinch more 1970's than I normally wear...but I love 'em just the same.
Outfit details: dress: vintage, thrifted; belt: a super sweet friend; flower: erm, these are my shoe clips that I bobby pinned into my hair; shoes: moi!
Sorry, this is as close to my troll feet as you're gonna get. Not that you'd wanna get any closer. I have what's called hammer-head toes. No pedi can prettify this kinda ugly.
 I was having so much fun with that vintage fabric that I created a matching belt and some new straps for my Sseko sandals. Making straps for these shoes takes me less than 15 minutes. It allows me to be matchy match from head to toe, as you can see here!
Off to get ice cream! Outfit details: dress: Forever 21, a couple summers ago; belt: made by me and available in my shop; sandals: Sseko and me
Thanks for dropping by. I've had so much fun sharing my DIY's with you of late! My spring break is drawing to a to make the most of it.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

DIY: Cardigan/Scarf

I told you I was on a floral kick. I've got Begonias and herbs growing in these pots. Fingers crossed my notoriously black thumbs don't kill these guys.
From the creator of the Blarf, that's scarf-to-blouse, and the Skankie, the hankies-to-skirt creation, I now bring you the Scarfigan!

Er, Cardiarf.


Oh, it's a cardigan that I sewed a scarf onto. Call it what you like.
Sorry for the face.  I blame my mother. The problem with pinning a flower to your sweater is it confuses the insects. This is one of the few non-swatting and screaming photos.
Today's To-Do List said the following:
  1. Go for a run.
  2. Clean the garage.
  3. Organize closets.
I wrote that list last night. When I read it this morning, I thought, "that's the dumbest thing I've ever read." So instead I did this:
  1. Got out my vintage scarves.
  2. Threw them on the floor.
  3. Made a cup of tea.
This is Asha. But she has many other alias...aliases...aliai...she got a lot of names. Among them: Jango, Bo-bo, Chubby Girl, Jabba, and Brittany. Okay, I made that last one up.
When I came back, I found this. No matter what I'm working on, there's a certain furry someone that always has to lay near it, across it or on it. Currently, that thing is my typing arm. But who could deny that furry widdle face?
I got the idea in my head that instead of cleaning the garage, what I really needed to do was sew a vintage scarf onto the back of some long-forgotten, rarely-worn cardigan. It was really pretty simple. Here's how I did it:
  1. Using the zig-zag setting, I sewed around the back of the sweater, following the back panel. I did this because I don't have a serger and I wanted a finished edge to prevent unraveling.
  2. I pinned a vintage silk scarf over the back panel (notice I've not cut into the back of the sweater yet). Because the silk is so thin, it was easy to just tuck under and pin into place.
  3. Using a top stitch, I sewed the scarf to the cardi.
  4. I removed the pins and carefully cut the sweater out staying close to the zigzag line. The tricky part was NOT cutting into the scarf. Which, of course, I did. Not cool. 
  5. And...viola! Finished Scardiarf! Doesn't that sound like a dish served by The Swedish Chef?
"What do you think, Jungle Cruise?" ... blank stare. I get that a lot.
So there you have it. And it didn't even take me, The World's Slowest Crafter, that long. Which meant that I had plenty of time to reread To-Do List #1 and revisit my options.
And I decided that my initial reaction was true: That's the dumbest thing I've ever read.

So I went antique shopping for vintage hankies instead. I wish I were making that up. But I'm not. I'll show you what I did with them soon.
On a side note, I thought I'd share this great photo with you. Do you know who this amazingly creative and spectacularly tacky (and I say what with great respect) woman is? This is Enid Collins, purse designer from the 1960's. I recently discovered her creations and was so excited to score one of my own recently on ebay.
Since the backyard proved to be an insect hazard, I thought I'd try the front. Except I kept tripping over the stairs in order to beat the camera timer. Oui. I am really the last person that should be blogging!

Goodbye, Grungy Garage and Cluttery Closets, Mama's got shoppin' to do. Outfit details: dress: vintage, thifted; belt and flower: H&M; shoes: Frye, TJMaxx; bag: Enid Collins, ebay; scardiarf: originally from Target, DIY'ed by me.
I hope you go out and avoid your To-Do List today as well! Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

(Flower) Pothead

Oh, hey neighbor. Yeah, I'm taking pictures. Of myself. With a tripod in the front yard. What? These America's Next Top Model photos ain't gonna take themselves.
It's spring and I've officially become a Flower Pothead. I've spent hours on flowers: planting, painting, wearing, embroidering and decorating with them. This spring thing better stick around because I'm in deep. I thought I'd share with you just a bit of the flowery fantasticness I've gotten myself into:
Flowers in my Hair: Saw Casey wearing flowers in her hair on a recent post and just had to do the same. Mine are fake flowers purchased at JoAnn's hot glued to a hairclip.
Flowers in my Patterns: We dropped in my favorite vintage shop in Orlando, Paris Market Vintage, where I swooped up this sweet 1970's era skirt for a mere $4. If you are ever in the area, it's a great shop with the sweetest ladies working there.
Flowers on my Doorstep: I took these $10 plastic flower pots, turquoise spray paint and cheap acrylic paint and did 'em up Bob Ross style last year. They've sat outside all year with very little wear. I decided to try trailing petunias in the pots this year. I'll share with you how I painted these pots in an upcoming post.
Flowers on my Hoop: My embroidery hoop, that is. I managed to make some headway on our recent trip. I'm about half way finished'll have to wait and see the result when it's complete. It might be a while.
Flowers in my Foyer: I don't care that they might be weeds, they are flowery just the same.
Flowers in Miniature Bottles: Hubs came home from a recent adventure with a sack full of these miniature jars. He'd been off-trail hiking and stumbled upon a cache of vintage trash. Such a great find, don't you think?
Flowers in the Sunshine: Nuff said. Hope things are coming up roses where you are!