Tuesday, September 18, 2012

In the Art Room: We are the World

Okay, this is gonna totally date me, but I was 10 years old when a group of the biggest 1980's celebrities gathered together to sing "We are the World". That was 1985 and I remember so many things about that year: my brother was born, forever ending my "only child" status; Haley's Comet made it's every-75-year appearance; my fifth grade teacher encouraged my love of creating and I loved her for that; a month into 1986, we watched in horror as the Challenger exploded. And the rock stars of the  mid-80's lead us all to believe that we could change the world. That's a lot of memories to pack into one year.
A World of Artists

I'm sorry. Maybe it's the weather, but I'm feeling sentimental of late. And this mural created by the students, faculty and staff of my school reminded me of that song. I can still see Bruce Springsteen (my all time fave), Michael Jackson and Lionel Richie (who both penned the tune), Tina Turner, Cyndi Lauper and so many others singing and swaying. 

But silly me. This is an "In the Art Room" post, not a kumbaya/hand holding session. I best digress before I become a mushy mess of memories.

Let's talk about the map, shall we? Every new school year, the kids create one big school mural together. Last year, we did the Self-Portrait/Rainbow Mural that is all over pinterest. It was a hit. I knew I wanted to do another mural that would tie in with our travel theme. A map of the world seemed like the answer. To begin, each student created a self-portrait in pencil and traced over it in Sharpie on a 3" X 3" piece of paper.

From there, students were given either all blue, green or yellow colored pencils and markers to color their mini-portrait. After looking at a map, students understood that they were either going to be in the water, on the land or apart of the frame.
I did some (very bad) calculations to come up with the size of the map. I was off. Way off. I'll show you how I attempted to correct that in a moment.
As the kids began finishing their portraits, I began gluing them to the map. As it filled up, some kids volunteered to use half green and half blue to be apart of the coastline. I placed their drawings on the map and lightly drew in pencil where the blue and green should be.

As you can see, once the portraits were glued, it was difficult to visually separate the land from the water. This had me seriously perplexed.
You might notice that some self-portraits were created on blue copy paper. Those were created by our faculty and staff in a pinch at a faculty meeting. The kids have loved seeing the drawings created by their teachers.
Thankfully, I've had this great group of art education students hanging out in my room a couple times a week. They volunteered to finish gluing down all of those little masterpieces. They also came up with the idea of outlining the continents to make them more prominent. That college education is really payin' off for them, don't you think?

Oh, look! It's Europe, our destination for this school year. Since having snapped these photos. I've made a little yellow dot with a string attached to show just where we are headed first. Paris, France, ya'll!
Those lovely college girls also crafted this nifty grid so the kids can (hopefully) find their self-portrait. Although they mostly just come up to me and say, "Where am I?" To which I reply, "Why, you are all over the world!"
Okay, so I did the math and came up with a 6' X 5' dimension. I drew out the map, painted it and was pretty proud of my mad multiplication skillz. And then, completely forgetting about my calculations, I decided to have the kids create this yellow border. Which lead to a whole lotta South Pacific emptiness. 

Solution? A compass rose. The kids learn about them later in the year...and it sure turned out pretty, if I do say so. Not only that, but I now have room for new kids to add their drawing to the mix. So, happy accident, says me.
Do you think we are just a little excited about our Parisian Adventure?
And there you have it, one We are the World complete. Thank you for indulging my memory lane stroll. Now I'm off to youtube to enjoy those mushy feel-good memories.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

What the Art Teacher Wore #34

Monday, Monday: top: vintage, gift from a friend; skirt: vintage, scooped up at Regal Retro; shoes: when am I not in these shoes? By Indigo by Clarks.
 I don't know what life has been like in your world this past week but mine has been crazy. Cruh-A-Zee. And the crazy doesn't appear to be slowin' down any time soon. Which I suppose is okay. Keeps me off the streets. Or off vintage shops on etsy which are equally as dangerous in my (pocket) book. 

So instead of showcasing art work or featuring an artist along with my outfits this week, I'm giving you a peak into my world. It should explain a lot. Or not. I'm too chuck-full-o-crazy to decide. 

 Oh! and thank you for taking the time to vote and leave a comment about my latest dress alteration. I appreciate your thoughts...especially since they appear to be leaning in my direction. And if you've not made yourself heard, there's only two days left to vote. What are you waiting for?

Chat with you soon!
Holy French Painter! This skirt was meant to be mine. Such a perfect fit for this year's theme.
Pack Your Bags Tuesday: This skirt came in so handy when chatting about luggage tags, suitcases and travel stickers. black tank: Target; sweater: Ann Taylor, thrifted; belt and shoes: Anthro; skirt: PastTimesVintage
I shared with you a sneak peak of the kids' self-created passports here. Full lesson to come, I promise. I just knew the kids and their crazy art teacher would lose those little passports...so we've been creating these portfolio suitcases complete with a passport pocket! They have loved carrying them around the room and stamping their passports. We are almost ready to jet off to France!
Wednesday: sweater: Target, years ago; belt: Anthro; beret: from a doll's hat, made by me; dress: gift from a friend, altered here; shoes: Indigo by Clarks
In a feeble attempt to get my room ready for this coming week's Open House, I've been staying late into the afternoon. No biggie, I love it. I have missed my usual routine of catching up with friends in the afternoon though. So it was kinda funny that one of my "little friends" inscribed this message on my car window this week. I'm just glad it was done in lip gloss...not nail polish as I feared. I've yet to find the culprit.
Picture Day Thursday: Last year the theme in the art room was Ancient Egypt. One week I dressed as King Tut. A month later, I spent the week dressed as Queen Nefertiti. It just so happened that Picture Day fell during Queen Nefertiti Week which resulted in the photo below. This year's theme isn't nearly as dramatic, but I did decide to go Parisian this Picture Day. beret: made by me; dress: bought in Germany; belt and shoes: you know...I am a repeat offender with these items!; scarf: vintage, thrifted
My ID badge from last year. The photography folks were not happy with me when I sat down. The girl said: Take the hat off. I told her it didn't come off. She rolled her eyes and snapped this photo. You don't mess with Queen Nefertiti (or Never-Teetee as the kids and I took to calling her).
Freaky Friday: We made it to Williamsburg, VA for the opening night of their Halloween event (they call it Howl-O-Scream) at Busch Gardens. We had a great time there and at Colonial Williamsburg. More details to come. And my dress was quite the hit! dress: Horror Flick Dress; my theme park shoes of choice: Chacos
Being a huge fan of Hitchcock's The Birds, I loved the entrance of Howl-O-Scream. Super Spooky! So looking forward to more weekends of haunts.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Vintage 911: Shrink My Dress

Vintage 911 before...and after.

Just recently a totally awesome coworker gave me this amazing vintage dress. I immediately fell in love with the print. I mean, it's got it all: umbrellas, toucans, starfish, a startled lady in a swim cap  -- it's just the most adorable thing ever. The prob? There was just a little too much fabric. Everywhere. A nip/tuck was in order.

Upon close examination, I found that this dress was entirely hand sewn. Can you imagine? In high school, when I was sewing-machine-less, I hand stitched the hem of a skirt. The process and the end result were equally painful.
 When thinking of how I would alter this dress, my first thought was to simply take in the sides and be done with it. However, that proved to be impossible for a couple of reasons. One, the dress only had a top button at the back of the neck. If the dress was altered to be form fitting, there would be no getting in and out of it. Two, the dress was pretty poorly crafted. I mean, it was hand sewn, the seamstress did what she could. But I wanted to do this dress up right. So, no short cuts. No slight modifications. This was gonna need to be a complete redo.
 I began by dissecting the dress. This was so hard to do as I wasn't sure exactly how this was going to end. I couldn't bear the thought of facing my work buddy knowing that I'd needlessly slaughtered her dress. Despite my sweaty palms and worry, I hacked away.

After cutting the back of the dress from top to bottom, I then took out the seam connecting the bodice to the skirt.

The original dress had a bodice that was gathered at the waist. I prefer a darted bodice, so I got out the dress pattern that I've used here, here, here and here. This cleaned up the bodice and created a more fitted look.

The sides were still wide, so I pinned and altered on my mannequin, as seen in the photo on the right.

 To be certain I took in an equal amount on both sides, I created a tissue pattern. I sewed along the line of the tissue paper, trimmed and ironed open.
 Once the bodice was complete, I was ready to add the skirt. Before I did, I took up 3 1/2" from the bottom. I then baste stitched two rows at the top of the skirt so that I could gather it.

I gathered the skirt to fit the bodice, pinned it like mad and stitched it to the bodice as seen on the right.

Gotta love a wind-created crinoline.
And, viola! Couple hours later and the dress was complete.
After adding even bigger darts on the second fitting, the dress fit much better.

Putting in the zipper was the last step. I used the zipper/tape trick again and it worked great. This dress has a beautiful pearl button at the top that I was able to keep in the dress.

Now, with the dress complete, I need your help: do I keep the parts of the dress that come off the shoulders (on left) or get rid of them (on right)? Hubs is leaning toward the look on the right...while I'm not sure if I want to take away from that wide collar.

So, what's your vote? You can cast your vote at the top of this page on the right. The last time we played this game, I was seriously out-voted (gee, thanks guys). After you vote, feel free to leave me a comment and lemme know what you think. Thanks for playing!

Sunday, September 9, 2012

What the Art Teacher Wore #33

Purple Tuesday: Can you find what's wrong in this picture? How about my dress...notice anything unusual? When I was getting dressed Tuesday morning, I foolishly tugged on a little loose string at the bottom of my dress. Once at school, someone pointed out that my hem was coming undone (after I'd snapped this photo). Geez, I wonder why.  A work buddy helped me tape that hem back into place. You get to know someone really well when you lift up the tail end of your skirt in front of 'em. dress: Anthropologie, new with tags, my favorite Goodwill score to date; shoes: John Fluevog
Well, Happy End of the Week to you, kids! I totally enjoyed having last Monday off in celebration of Labor Day. Did you notice there wasn't an outfit photo for Monday? Yeah, I bounced between four different looks that day: pajamas, exercise clothes, yard working clothes and back to pajamas. Thought I'd spare you.

So included in this short What I Wore this Week is one of my favorite fabric designers: Florence Broadhurst. Because I'm toying with the idea of creating my own fabric, I've been pouring over the designs of some of my faves. My bedside table currently has a stack of fabric design books and Florence is at the top of the pile. If you've not heard of her, I highly recommend Florence Broadhurst: Her Secret and Extraordinary Lives.
Florence Broadhurst in her Paddington (an eastern suburb of Sydney, Australia) wallpaper design studio, early 1970's. Her vibrant and outlandish designs were a complete reflection of her character. All images pulled from pinterest.

Florence lived more lives than a cat. Born in 1899, she grew into adulthood during the roaring '20's. In full flapper garb, she toured Southeast Asian and China in various singing and comedy troupes. In her later designs, the influence of Asian art is strong.

Brown Wednesday: That's right, we are still wearing colors this week with kindergarten. This totally helped me get dressed in the mornings...although I've missed wearing my Frenchy-themed garb. dress: vintage, picked up at an antique store in high school; shoes: Frye
Always the entrepreneur, Florence established The Broadhurst Academy where she taught voice and instrument lessons in Shanghai. From there she moved on to England where she married, divorced, remarried and had a son. When World War II hit, she volunteered to help.

One of my favorite Broadhurst designs. At her wallpaper design facility in the late 1960's and 70's, this print could have been purchased on metallic paper. This was completely revolutionary at the time.
Black and White (with a pop of color) Thursday: top: vintage, thrifted. I love it's Matisse-esque design; skirt: Target; shoes: Softee
When reading about Florence, I found that many of the 800 wallpaper designs were not actually created by her. Her eyesight was failing and the task of creating all of those designs would have been impossible.  So she hired graduates from local art schools to come work for her. Some of  their designs she would claim to be her own. For photo ops like the one above, the palette and the brushes where simply props.
That's not to say she didn't have a heavy hand in the direction of the designs. This is another one of my faves.
Wear Your Favorite Color Day: Turquoise! dress: vintage, thrifted; belt: gift from a friend (thank you, Anna!); shoes: Anthropologie
Florence with all of the designs created in her studio. I love her vibrant fashion sense (dyed bright red hair, oh yeah!), even well into her 70's. She was known among her friends for her flamboyant style. Sadly she was murdered outside of her studio in 1977. Her murderer was never found and the reason is still a mystery.
Regardless, her designs are such an inspiration. I find them to be so beautiful and modern looking. Have you heard of Florence Broadhurst? Do you have a fave fabric designer?
Thanks for reading. I hope you enjoy your upcoming week. Mine is going to be spook-tacular! More details soon.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

In the Art Room: The Masterpiece Gallery

Welcome to the Masterpiece Gallery where every work of art created by small hands is tres magnifique.
 If you are a teacher for more than 10 minutes, you are going to be the recipient of many a gift. My personal faves? Well, aside from the Body Fantasies Body Wash I received my first year teaching (awkward), I'd have to say the handmade gifties. Just recently one of my students gifted me a wonderful woven basket she had created over the summer. I also scored this beautiful bouquet of gingko leaves collected by a student who remembered they were my favorite during our leaf printing last year.
This window looks into my office which is an eyesore, to say the least. I painted it (almost 10 years ago!) with the same thing I painted my other windows with: Window Chalk. I love this vibrant paint.
 The gifts I most often receive are drawings. The wee artists will bring them rolled up; folded and pulled from their pocket; flattened in a "special" zip lock bag. Students present these drawings in front of the class where we recognize them with a round of applause.

At first, I pinned their drawings to a bulletin board. Over time, this overcrowded spot became an eyesore in the classroom. And I didn't want their hard work to be showcased that way.
So I decided to create this little gallery to spotlight their independent work. Several years ago, a local frame shop went out of business and I was the recipient of many a frame. Over the years, I've picked up more at Goodwill and garage sales. Each frame is backed with a layer of cardboard and a jersey fabric in the primary colors. This surface is perfect for pinning and repinning little masterpieces.
Interested in creating your own Masterpiece Gallery? Well, it's very simple. Here's what you'll need:
  • Cheapo picture frames. I like mine metallic, so I usually spray paint them gold or silver.
  • Cardboard or foamcore. You'll notice I recycle my cardboard. Nothin' fancy here.
  • Thin sheets of cork. This is optional. When I first created these, I sandwiched a layer of cork between the jersey and the fabric. Turns out the cardboard works just as well for pinning and repinning.
  • Fabric. I used a jersey because it's what I had on hand. 
  • Glue gun.
  • Picture frame hangers. This will depend on the type of frame you pick up at your local thrift. It may already have a hanging device on the back.
Let's start with the frames. Remove the glass, artwork and backing if you purchased a frame that was not empty. I keep the glass, tape the edges and use them for palettes at home. Depending on the artwork that came in the frame, I'll either keep it or toss it. In the case of the above artwork on the right, I was able to use that as the backing for the frame. Cut cardboard or foamcore and cork (if you are using it) to the same size as the frame backing. Cover the front in fabric and hot glue to the back.

Place inside the frame. To secure, look at your frame. It might already have a way for you to secure the backing. If you look at the above frame on the left, I simply had to push the metal staples down. For the frame on the right, I just screwed the original backing into place. For the one in the middle, I hammered nails at an angle to secure the backing. 

The same goes for the hanging device. You can see the frame on the left has a mount already attached. For the one in the middle, I purchased hanging wire and stapled it into place with my electric stapler (best invention every, btw). Do you see the bits of foam I tacked to the corners? That's to hold the double sided tape. This prevents the frames from getting bumped and becoming an uneven mess on the wall.
I have found these little hangers to be the best for my concrete walls. Picked them up at the local hardware. Ask for concrete/brick picture hangers.

The ever-changing, always-inspiring Masterpiece Gallery.

You might recognize this area as where we play The Smartest Artist from this post.
Our little gallery is located in this odd corner I have in my room where the kids line up to exit. It's the perfect spot for them to see their classmates work and become inspired to create something of their own. And isn't that what a gallery is all about?

What ways have you found to display artwork?  I'd love to hear your ideas!