Saturday, May 12, 2012

In the Art Room: Mother's Day Flower Pots

Our kindergarten students have changed so much this year that their growth reminds me of their blooming flower collages.
There are some folks that just don't get paid enough. These people include egg-inspection factory workers (speaking from experience, thank you very much), corn-detasselers (another item on my resume) and kindergarten teachers. Now, don't get me wrong, I enjoy teaching the littles but I only see them in half an hour intervals. And, sometimes, in that half an hour, I can have one empty his bladder, one start to cry for her mama, one step in said bladder-empty-outter's puddle and one decide to smack me on the tooshie on his way out the door with a "bye-bye, Mrs. Stephens!"
Overheard kindergarten convo: "I got a man's haircut yesterday but I'm still a little boy." Such sweetness, sigh.
Despite all of that, I can see why the kindergarten teachers keep coming back for more. No other group of kids is as enthusiastic about everything under the sun as kindergarten. Every new skill taught is met with an "ohhhh" and an "ahhhh" and often awarded an applause.
Take this Flowery Collage, for instance. We used the left over scraps of textured paper we had created for our Mammoth Monet Mural. For the background, we learned all about creating a tint with primary blue and white when sponge printing. Once that was dry, we chatted about our French friends Claude Monet and Henri Matisse and their love of nature and collage, respectively. And their flowers are simply tres magnifique, no?
Pretty as a petunia.
But I'm getting ahead of myself. You see, the wee ones actually painted these here flower pots before creating their collages. Every year our awesome kindergarten teachers help their students celebrate Mother's Day with a Mother's Day Tea. At the tea, each mom is presented with a handpainted terracotta with a lovely little flower inside.
We only used one 1/2 hour class to complete these. It was a whirlwind of painting fun but next year I think two art classes would be better.
I offered to help the kids paint their pots in the art room this year. I demonstrated on a couple of broken pots how to paint the middle of the flower, or stigma. We chatted about pollen (which is why we are all so sneezy) and nectar. I then showed the kids how to add the petals, stem and leaves and grass. We topped it off with some line designs around the rim.
Remember these? I guess you can see where my idea of having them paint flowers on their flower pots came from...
"My mama is going to love my pot. She's gonna say 'Did you really make it?' " ...adorable
Once the pots were painted, the kids had a big time with the collages because they could see the connection. And because we learned the word "collage" and said it in our funniest French accents complete with a "viola!" after every simple task completed. You see, I told you, it's the little things when it comes to the little ones. As long as we're not peein', cryin' or nose-a-pickin', it's a pretty fun group to hang with.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

DIY: Ceramic Paper Doll Dresses

A girl can never have too many dresses, I say. While creating these ceramic dresses, I had a theme in mind for each. Starting from the left, I call these The Debutante, The Librarian, The Lady Who Lunches and The Majorette.
I have a wee bit of a vintage paper doll collection as you might recall here. I just love the sweet illustrations and the beautiful dresses. As a kid, I often resorted to playing with my paper dolls when it became too stinkin' difficult to slide Barbie's tight Calvin Klein-inspired jeans over her sticky rubber legs. I'm pretty sure I was on the verge of getting kid's carpal tunnel, thanks to Mattel. But I digress.
The Summer Picnic, The Prom Date, The Secretary, The Cheerleader
One of my other fave kid toys were my Fashion Plates. Did anyone else have these? I recently found a set on etsy and scooped them up. I loved coming up with my own outfit designs as a kid. Huh, go figure, right?

Both of these interests, vintage paper dolls and dress designing, started me down this latest DIY path: Ceramic Paper Doll Dresses. I had been toying with the idea for a while but not until I found some old photos of my maternal grandmother was I inspired to set to work.
My beautiful grandmother is the girl on the right. I love her widow's peak, olive colored skin and wavy dark hair, none of which I inherited.
I love this photo of my grandmother with her mother and siblings. Her pretty little legs in those too-big shoes, her sweet smile but most of all, that dress. I was determined to sculpt a ceramic version.
Since I've been creating ceramic belts, I've been using tons of different textures for surface design. Among my favorites are doilies, burlap and these polymer clay texture plates sold at craft stores.
To create my little dresses, I first went through my stash of textures. Many of my textures are vintage lace which are perfect for creating little mini-vintage ensembles. For this process, I lay my texture down on my work surface (a wooden board), lay a piece of clay on the texture and use a rolling pin to flatten. Once the clay is flattened to an even surface, I peal the clay off of the texture, turn over and, voila! "fabric" for my dress.
The secret ingredient to working with clay and not having it stick to the rolling pin, your fingers, and everything else? Corn starch. That's the white powder you see on my clay.
I used one of my favorite vintage paper dolls as the model for all of my dresses. She was placed on my textured surface and the dresses were designed around her. This made dealing with proportion a snap and left me able to focus on the fun part, designing her vintage look.
My grandmother's dress. I cannot wait to have it fired and glazed. I would love to know the original color of the dress. My grandmother is no longer with us but maybe her sister will know.
Forming the little details, like the buttons and the ruffle, are my favorite parts about creating these little outfits. Once that's complete, I add the tabs and allow the clay a day or two to dry before a slow fire in the kiln.
My grandmother was also a majorette. My plan is to eventually create the accessories that go with these outfits, like the baton and the knee-high tasseled boots.
Once the dresses are out of the kiln, the glazing adventure begins. I have a love/hate relationship with glaze as you can never know for certain what you are gonna get. One of my favorite dresses I created was a Dale Evans-inspired cowgirl dress. Sadly the glaze was much too shiny and bright and the dress lost that certain something.
"Oh, what's that, Charlie? You wanna take me to the prom? Golly gee, I dunno. I've already been asked by Timmy, Bobby and Bill!"
I decided what these dresses needed was a satin glaze. So I ordered some here and was much happier with the result.
The Librarian. I designed the skirt of this dress around one I saw my grandmother wearing in a school photo.

My grandmother was never a cheerleader but I just couldn't resist creating a vintage cheer look in my college colors. I'm a hoosier, what can I say?

Okay, so someone needs to go shoe shopping. This dress is easily my favorite.

I attempted to use a tarnished gold metallic glaze on the skirt. Yeah, not what I was expecting.
I'm interested to hear what you think of this little DIY of mine. And now the question is...what do I do with these wee little wonders? I have a couple of ideas but nothing is really lighting my fire, if you know what I mean. What do you think? Frame them? Put them in a shadow box, as a friend suggested? Display

Thanks for reading, guys! I do hope you have a lovely day. Oh, and the next time Barbie's pants won't go up? Put her in a dress. That's what I do Every Single Day ;).

Saturday, May 5, 2012

What the Art Teacher Wore #15

Monday, Nobody Likes You: A coworker told me she had recently purchased these same Target sandals...and contemplated taking them back after seeing that the "crazy art teacher" also had them -- humph! cardigan, flower pins: H&M; dress: gift from a friend; belt: Pinkyotto; sandals: Target
Well, I dunno about you, but in my little part of the world, this week was like a sucker punch to the gut. My poor students and their teachers had to endure our state's standardized testing. For at least two hours every morning, my students had to take these tests that were most definitely written by trolls who live a kid-free life in their underground dungeon. By the time the kids came to art class, they were like zombies straight out of a horror movie.

Speaking of movies...I decided to take a different direction on this week's What I Wore. Instead of pairing my ensemble with a masterpiece, I decided to track down vintage movie posters that I found complimented my look. My search also lead me to a couple of goodies that would make my look complete, if only. You'll have to tell me what you think. Now go enjoy yourself a good movie and your weekend!
So while hubs and I were outside taking a photo of Monday's outfit, the neighbor's cat Rhett Butler (no, not kidding, I do live in The South) decided to join the fun. He's quite the character, loving one minute and attacking the next. So this book cover illustrates his craziness nicely. I know, I said I'd show movie posters, but this was just too perfect: From "Wiplala" written by Annie M.G. Schmidt, illustrated by Jenny Dalenoord, Holland, 1958

My feet say "no" but the crazy cat lady says "yesssss!" Pixie Lott in Mui Mui.

Tuesday: sweater: ebay; dress: The Hip Zipper, the best vintage joint in Nashville; owl sandals: Anthopologie

I love this poster...and would love to see the movie. I think I would fall under the "spoiled" category. My dear hubs lets me buy anything I the thrift store. Image found here.

Can I please lounge on this in my pink gingham dress and be a bad sistah? Oh, summer vacation, you can't come soon enough! I found this lovely couch here.

Guess-who's-excited-she-finished-her-embroidery Wednesday: This is the dress that I embroidered and shared a DIY over at this lovely blog. dress: The Gap; shoes: Borne...these are the worst shoes ever, don't buy them. They absolutely will not stay on your feet, ugh!

Oh, Doris Day, you so stinkin' cute! Send Me No Flowers, found here.

I have needed a floral fix almost daily. Is it spring or a new trend? Don't care, just gimme some more flowers! Tights found here.

Thursday, You're such a Wild Cat: dress and sweater: thrifted; belt and sandals: made by me. The sandal base is from Sseko; headband: Peachy Tuesday

Boxers, briefs or...jungle panties? Image found here.

Can you believe the awesomeness that is my headband? No extra accessories needed, this is just perfect. Thank you, Jen at Peachy Tuesday!

Friiiidaaaaaay!: sweater: thrifted; dress: super cute vintage shop in Knoxville called Four Seasons Vintage; sandals: Frye; hairclip: made by me

Honestly, I struggled to find a poster for this outfit. It's a stretch but I'm thinking the stripes and the kinda-sorta similar palette makes it work...right? Found here.

Wanna know what I just did? I just got the Pink Panther theme song stuck in your head. You're welcome!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

In the Artroom: The Art History Wall

A Rockin' Trip Thru Art History with...Mona Lisa's Masterpieces.
This week in the art room, I thought I'd share with you the backdrop seen in many of my What-I-Wore-This-Week posts. Every school year, I create a theme of study. The year I created the Art History Wall, our theme was Rockin' Thru Art History. I wore this wacky apron and the kids created guitars and rocked their way through the history of art.  I loved the wall too much at the end of the year to take it down. With the exception of a random piece of art falling off the wall, it's held up well through the years and, more importantly, it's proved to be a valuable educational tool in the art room.
Every art room should have a mascot.
I am fortunate in that I have a very large art room. Once upon a time, my art room was the school library. So it is very long with plenty of former book shelves turned cabinets and storage.
The Wall in total. Narrowing down the history of art to fit my wall was the hardest part.
That being said, I have this very large wall space which seemed to be the perfect canvas for a giant display. I began by jotting down the major movements in art history. From there, I rooted through my mountains of visuals: old calendars, postcards, posters -- even cutting up the art history books I'd hoarded since college, to find just the right images.
In the Beginning...we had rock art, no paper, no scissors.
With my art movements and visuals sorted, I began the writing of the Art History Wall. This proved to be difficult as I had to keep it simple and kid friendly. To add a little  three dimensional pop to the wall, I clued a piece of foam to the back of the purple papers as well as some of the visuals.
If you are interested in creating your own wall, feel free to borrow from mine as much as you like. The following are the movements and their simple descriptions:
Rock Painting: The beginning of art...
Ancient Egypt: tombs, pyramids, mummies, OH MY!
Ancient Greece: athletic people that believed in many gods...
Ancient Rome: expanded Greek art ideas (after conquering them)
Middle Ages: Bible stories were told through art
Early Renaissance: Artists learned to paint realistically
High Renaissance: Michelangleo painted the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel and sculpted David; Leonardo da Vinci sketched inventions and painted the Mona Lisa

Dutch painting: Dutch artists painted portraits, still lives and genre paintings
Romantics and Realists: wanted to show emotion in their art
Impressionists: group of artists that wanted to show color and light
Famous impressionists were Monet, Manet, Renoir, Degas, Cassatt
Post Impressionist: artists that created after the Impressionists and expanded their ideas: van Gogh, Seurat, Cezanne
Modern Art: In modern art, artists realized that the possibilities are endless!
The bulletin board beside the art history wall.

What's the point in having a mascot when you don't get to wear a silly costume? I got this idea from one of the most amazing and inspirational art teachers I know, Debi West. You can read more about her and her students here.
And there you have it! We put the wall in action when we are learning about an artist or a certain movement in art. I'll ask the kids to follow me to the Art History wall so they can visually grasp important periods in art. Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

DIY: Floral Embroidery

So, do you remember that floral embroidery sneak-peak I shared with you here? Well, I finally finished it! But if you want to read more, you'll have to head over to one of my favorite blogs, The Little Red Squirrel.

Sweet Katie, the creative mind behind The Little Red Squirrel, is on vacation in Paris (I had to photoshop my green-with-envy face) and asked me if I wouldn't mind being a guest blogger for her. I shared with her readers my floral embroidery DIY. I do hope you'll take a look and add her blog to your blog reader, it's fantastic!

And thanks again, Katie, it was a delight. Enjoy your holiday!

Monday, April 30, 2012

Weekend Adventure: Back and Forth

I love this turtle mosaic by the Tennessee artist Sherri Warner Hunter. This guy was featured with several large mosaic fish and a lizard bench at a rest stop on the way to Chattanooga.
This weekend, hubs and I took a road trip to Chattanooga, Tennessee. Now, if ya'll aren't from around these parts, Chattanooga is a sweet town most famous for it's Lookout Mountain. To access the mountain, you can take what's called the Incline Railway which is a sort of train car that halls you at a near 75 degree angle to the top. It is not for the faint of heart.
It's about a two hour drive to Chat from Nashville. On my lap was my latest embroidery project. I'm working from a vintage dictionary with the best illustrations. I can't wait to share with you the finished product...but it might be a while.
Having done the Incline before, we passed on it. Besides we had other things on our agenda. Me, I was all about the vintage, antique and thrift shops. Hubs? Well, if you must know, it was the donut shop. Seriously. We drove two hours for donuts.
Not just any donuts, mind you, Julie Darling Donuts. They were pretty fab. We sampled the red velvet, blueberry and the glazed. None of them were your traditional donut: the glazed was amazing with a bread like texture; the blueberry was crispy on the outside like it had been deep fried and the red velvet had an incredible cream cheese frosting. They also had a bacon donut and an Oreo covered number that looked pretty interesting.
Chattanooga is a pretty arsty town with sculptures and paintings along their river front. I took piano lessons for years, but those of you that know me, know the real piano story. Those of you that don't know this infamous tale, let's just say it involves an Amish piano-tuning dude, my mother and something you'd never thought you'd find inside a piano.
After devouring our donuts, we walked along the riverfront venturing into shops. I managed to do a little damage at one antique store before we hit Lupi's Pizza.
One of my finds: I picked up this sweet little bird tray at The Knitting Mill Antiques. I loved it's unique diamond shape. Perfect for holding my wool snippets and my hook. The little snippets can be felted and made into things like this sweet pin cushion.
Our intent was to stay over in Chat...but to be honest, we felt like we'd done what we came to do: eat deliciously naughty food and buy other people's junk. To Do, Ta Done.
Getting home early allowed me to finish another square in my rug hooking! The flower took a lot longer than the geometric design but I'm really excited with the result.
The variegated yellow wool and the maroon wool that are outlining the flower are both from recycled clothing. I cannot wait to start on my next square. But I have entirely too many other things on my Shoulda-Gotten-Done-Five-Days-Ago list to even think about that.
Okay, the real reason we drove all the way to Chattanooga and back again? This sweet face.
Not only that, but someone has staked her claim in my wool storage! And, lemme tell you, if you even attempt to pull out a strand of wool on her watch, she'll shred you to bits with those claws. So, until she moves on, looks like I'll working on that embroidery!