Monday, January 7, 2013

DIY: Put a Bird on It

I am interrupting this post with a link to my latest felted version of an Anthro sweater with the bonus of a DIY tulle skirt! Check it here. Hello, my name is Cassie and I put birds on things. I know, I'm so cliche that there's even a Portlandia skit dedicated to birds-on-things-itis. Which I apparently have a bad case of.
There are no new ideas. There are only new ways of making them felt.
Audre Lorde

Oh, were truer words ever spoken? However, I'd like to just change it up a little bit, if I might, to fit my purposes: There are no new ideas. There are only new ways of making them with felt.
 Yeah, that's better.
So, as you might recall from this post, I have recently caught the felting bug. Like, big time. Which is a really good thing because I have a mountain of thrifted, slightly boring-ish sweaters I'm just dying to felt-ify. Yet another reason to justify my hoarding ways.

I began felting this sweater one evening without any sort of plan but with an urge to put a bird on it. Before I could talk myself out of it, I felted a white paisley shape for the body, overlapping that with the red, blue and a couple specks of black. The tree branch and the leaves took no time at all.
For the back of the sweater, I found some images of birds on pinterest (if you'd like to see them, you can check out my "felting" board) and just started felting away. Originally, I had planned to felt a large tree growing up the middle back of the sweater with birds all over it. But hubs seemed to think that was too cliche and suggested I have the branches growing from the side of the sweater. Huh. Why didn't I think of that?
The birds look out of focus, don't they? That's the fuzzy nature of felting. Which drives a nit-picky detail-oriented artist like me kinda nuts. Also, check out that needle tool on the bottom left. A couple of you mentioned in my felting post to beware of stabbing myself. I'd done it a couple of times, but when I literally had to pull three bloody needles out of my index finger, I thought "ah! this is what I was warned about!" That quote being the g-rated version. Ahem.
After felting eleven or so birds on the back of the sweater, I added the tree branches and leaves. I know, I'm making it sound really easy. I'm not gonna lie, some of those flying birds were a bit tricky. I found the key is to work small because you can always make the bird bigger. Meaning, if it looks like a shrunken head birdie, add more felt. However, if you give it a big ole head to start then the next thing you know, you got some sort of crazy giant-headed bird monster that will frighten small children. Which, just gave me an idea...
Want some outfit details? Belt, dress and shoes: Anthro; For the Birds Enid Collins box purse: best ebay purchase ever; felty hair flower: gift from my moms-in-law. AND check out my new hair stylin's. I've been steam roller rollin' my hair almost daily and it's time consuming. This 'do took less than 7 minutes and I love it. I combed some hair forward for a faux bang and put a bumpit at the crown of my head. I braided the bottom of my hair, twisted it into a bun and pinned it with 27 bobby pins (give or take).
Next up on my Hair 'Do To Do: This Hairy Nesterpiece. BTW, ya'll need to check out one of my fave blogs The Hair Hall of Fame. So much awesomeness on heads.
And that is all. At least for now. I've got another sweater in the works after I promised myself I'd take a break. But when I recently experienced a DIY fail, I felt the need to felt again. And punch my frustrations out. While watching out for my fingers, of course.
But I promise, I'm not putting any more birds on things! For at least another 10 minutes. Now watch this funny clip. You'll like it. 

Chat with you soon!

Sunday, January 6, 2013

What the Art Teacher Wore #49

Shopping and Lunching: I met up with super cute vintage blogger and clothing designer, Quincy, from Q's Daydream. We hit a giant fabric sale (where I scored some of those fab fabrics below), shopped some vintage and lunched. She was so kind to give me a perfect how-to for my brand new serger! Santa was good to me this year. sweater and dress: both vintage and from Four Seasons Vintage in Knoxville; fishnets: Target; shoes: Softt; poodle pin: etsy
 Hello, dudes! I hope the new year so far has been treating you well. Not too shabby here as I've had the past week off and been livin' la vida loca. Which for me means shopping for fabric, vintage clothing and spending time with buddies. I think I could seriously do that all day long. Although, I gotta admit, I'm starting to miss the wee artists quite a bit.

Since it is the New Year and all, I've been randomly jotting down in my little notebook things I'd like to work on this year. Not resolutions really, just improvements. Expansions. Do-it-More-isms. I'm throwing them into the mix with this week's What I Wore. What's on your "I'd like to get better at this" list?
Expand my sewing repertoire: This year, I did manage to sew nine dresses from patterns which is huge for this previous non-pattern-sewer. However, I only used two patterns. This was a great way for me to learn but now I think I'm ready to expand my horizons. I picked up the two vintage patterns at Nostalgia Vintage in Knoxville. One of you friendly folk recommended that I try the vintage repro patterns by Butterick. So I snagged those two at Joann's.
Design my own fabric: I really don't know why I have such a strong desire to do this. I mean, look at these adorable prints! But there are times when I want to sew, say, a Vincent van Gogh dress or a Mona Lisa frock and I can't find any inspiring print. I also would love to see so many of my vintage flour sack fabrics reproduced because they are just lovely. I've been chatting about this for a while...I'm hoping adding it to my resolutions will force me to do it.
Movies and Popcorn: On this particular afternoon, I met up with another friend to see Les Miserables. We hit the matinee and I'm so glad my buddy sprang for popcorn as that movie went way past my suppertime. I love these empty days of vacation for catching up with friends. coat and dress: vintage and thrifted; tights: Target; gloves: Anthro, give from MIL; shoes: Dolls by Nina
Get out more: Since Christmas, hubs and I have been on a hiking marathon. We hiked all over the Smoky Mountains and we hit Raccoon Mountain outside of Chattanooga just the other day. That's the view of it above, isn't it lovely? We have such a good time when we get out and hike.
More shopping, lunching and catching up: My art teacher buddy and I headed in to Nashville and did some shopping. The after-Christmas sales right now are nuts! I was so glad to catch up with her, it made my day. jacket: old, sale at Modcloth; skirt: Pin Up Girl; purple tights, sparkle fishnets: TJMaxx
Keep on lovin' what I do and doin' it with love: I love my job as an art teacher and I love my students. There are some days, however, I forget to slow down and listen to them. With a half an hour, I too often focus on "here's what we are learning in 10 words or less!" ..."let's get this done!" ... "okay, clean it up!", that I sometimes forget what matters most to them: my attention. My spending time with them, chatting, joking and teaching. This sweet note from a third grader really reminded me of this. (P.S. the "fake farts and burps" he is referring to is from my sound effects machine in the bottom right corner...which I may occasionally use to accuse some kid of tooting. But never when I'm being observed.)
New DIY Spoiler Photo!: As you know, I've recently become addicted to needle can see my other felted sweater here. I finished this bird felted sweater (where the real surprise is on the back) and I'll share it with you soon. As for the rest of this outfit, the dress, shoes and belt, all came from Anthro and were under $25 each. That's right! In fact, the shoes rang up $15. Seriously, now is the time to shop that place. sweater: thrifted, felted by me; dress, shoes, belt: Anthro; tights: Target
Keep on crafting: It wasn't that long ago that I spent more time in front of the television and online that I did in my sewing room or at the dining room table crafting some mess. I found it really hard to start on a craft because I would talk myself out of it: "I don't know how to do it; it's too late for me to learn; I'll never be as good at this as I want to be." Then I thought, what kind of art teacher doesn't create? We eventually got rid of the t.v. but I still spend entirely too much time online. I'm going to limit my time and keep on crafting. (P.P.S. This here is another spoiler of the back of the bird sweater from the outfit photo above.)
Spend more time with this dude: Because we enjoy being together. And he's awesome. We snapped this photo just yesterday on our 12 mile hike (gah!) around Montgomery Park in Nashville.
 You know, looking over these resolutions, I'm excited. They seem doable and fun. I need to add decorating the house to my list as I have so many ideas...but usually end up sewing some new dress instead! Hopefully I'll be able to add some home DIY projects to this blog soon. Ish.

Enjoy your upcoming week, ya'll!

Thursday, January 3, 2013

In the Art Room: Pieces of Paris

Framed masterpieces by my fourth grade artists.
My winter break is quickly coming to an end. It's been a lovely couple of weeks of traveling, crafting and catching up with fam and friends. Come Monday, it's back to reality. And I'm ready. I've missed my little artist buddies and their awesomeness. I snapped these photos of the last of the Parisian-themed projects my fourth graders completed before break. I thought I'd share this lesson with you.
Each 3" square was to be French-themed. This artist did a pretty bang-up job. From the top left to right: Le Sacre Coer, words in French, Notre Dame, the Eiffel Tower, a fleur de lis and more words in French.
If you've been reading this blog since the beginning of the school year, then you are familiar with the Parisian theme with which we started. I painted my windows, the entrance to my classroom and sewed some dresses to get the kids excited about Paris. You can see the French-y works of art by my first graders, second and a couple of projects by my third graders here and here.
From top left to right: French words, the Eiffel Tower, French words, fleur de lis, French words and the Arc de Triomphe.
We began this project at the start of the school year after finishing our passports and suitcase portfolios. I wanted a project that would introduce many different types of media and enhance their drawing skills while teaching all-things-Frenchy. So our first order of business was learning the language. We had the help of Fifi (my smart mouthed pink poodle puppet), a couple of learning-French CDs and google translate. 

On a 8" x 11" sheet of paper, the artist wrote French words or drew mini pictures of famous icons of Paris in water-based marker. Once completed, they chose a handful of their favorite words and drawings to trace over in colorful sharpie markers. They then quickly brushed water over their papers causing the water-based markers to bleed and give a tie-dye effect to the background. Some artists added salt for that snow-flakey effect.

Originally that was gong to be the background for a different project entirely. But when I saw how their paintings were turning out, I decided to go a different route. Teaching is like that, you know? No matter how much planning and trouble-shooting you do, things don't always go according to plan. Which can often be a good thing.
But back to the paintings. We set those aside until the tail end of the project. When we'd finished all of our other little 3" mini-masterpieces, we got them back out, cut 3" squares of our favorite parts of the painting and added them to the final project.
Next up: Metal tooling. I love doing metal tooling with the kids. They learn so much about line, texture and color, if we happen to throw sharpies into the mix. This young artist chose to draw her version of the stained glass window in Notre Dame.
A mini Arc de Triomphe. After our French lesson, we learned all about the famous places of Paris, France. It was easy to pique their interest as they have a close buddy that recently visited all of these places: Jes! The artists were inspired by photos of his adventures in the City of Love.
After that: Scratch art. Dude, my students love scratch art paper. But it's expensive! So doing these wee masterpieces gives them great experience without breaking my art budget.
Le Sacre Coer is like the Where's Waldo in so many paintings of Paris. Because it sits high on Montmartre, it can be seen from all over the city. When chatting about this with the kids, one student said, "Ooooh. I thought that was the White House," to which another replied, "Really? In Paris?" Que eye-rolls, face palms and snickers. "What?! It does kinda look like it." I would have to agree.
Our last little drawing surface was this translucent stained glass paper stuff I'd had in my closet forever. These little drawings were perfect for out 1/2 hour art classes. We kept them in envelopes marked with our names.
Not sure if that's a moat or just a circle of silver encompassing the Notre Dame.
Top left to right: paint palette with fancy background, an artist hard at work, French words, more Frenchy goodness, the Eiffel Tower and Bonjour!
When all of the drawings were complete, we painted the background paper. I gave a quick lesson on color mixing and the use of texture combs. The kids chose a piece of colored construction paper to paint on and texture.
Bon appetit! When asked the chef was holding I was told "stinky fromage." Duh, silly me.
Once our envelopes were stuffed with mini pieces of Paris, the framing commenced. At this point, we were just a pinch over it so I really had to stay on the kids to use their best craftsmanship when framing. I started out with, "I'm so proud of your hard work. Be sure to take the same care when framing..." which quickly turned into "If you don't frame that carefully your evil art teacher will make you redo it." 

New kid looking around the room: "Who's the evil art teacher?"

Veteran kid jerking his head toward me: "That lady."

New kid looking up at me as I change my expression from smiling to Cruella Deville: shivers and gets back to work. 


As you return to work, school, and life in these upcoming days of the brand new year, have fun!

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

DIY: Felting a Holey Mess, Anthro-Style

Hey guys! I'm updating this post with a link to another needle felting DIY I just AND one here...just can't stop felting! I don't normally stand around with my arms crossed. Unless I'm cold. Or I'm going head-to-head with a fourth grader and their attitude. In which case, one of my eyebrows are raised and my lips are pursed. Neither scenario is the case in this photo. I'm actually trying to show off my felt-y floral elbows.
Just to clarify: Anthro-Style is not at all similar to Gangnam Style. Least you be confused.

Anthro-Style is a way around paying through the nose for some adorable skirt/dress/sweater that you just know you could make. You can see my attempts here and here.

Gangnam Style is a way of dancing if you want to, well, have a female look at you as if you just ate your socks. You can see my attempts here and here (ha! made you look!).

I caught a bad case of Anthro-Style when I was at said store with a buddy. I spotted this sweet felted cardigan and was drawn to it's delicate colors and motif. However, the $138 price tag was just a pinch off-putting (ahem!). It was then I remembered the huge mound of roving I'd acquired during one of my hobby hoarding episodes and decided to attempt my own felted floral cardi.

Now when I say hobby hoarder, I mean that I've tried my hand at just about every craft under the sun. I collect hobbies like some people do baseball cards and coins. And I've got the garage full of potter's wheels, mosaic tiles, looms and jewelry making supplies to prove it. Occasionally I think to myself, "I should really get rid of all that macrame" and then I dream up something to do with it. For example. As I've yet to figure out how to craft a non-itchy macrame dress. But I will. Someday-ish.
 My version of the Anthro sweater. Granted, it doesn't look a thing like the original and I'm okay with that. Mine's the cheery-happy-kiddie version to their sophisicated-grown-up-lady original.
But my cashmere sweater cost $3.99 at the thrift store not $138. So you can add penny-pincher to my cheery-happy-kiddie version as well, you sophisticated-grown-up-broke-lady.

 Wait, what? You too wanna make a Felt-y Floral Anthro-Style Sweater? Duuuude, it is so easy. But you will need the following:
  •  A Sweater. I was under the misconception that the sweater must be 100% wool. Oh no. You can needle felt on any fabric. I'd had this thrifted cashmere sweater in my give-to-Goodwill pile because it was a little holey. Turns out you can felt-patch those holes. 
  • Wool Roving. I purchased mine at a workshop I attended a couple of years ago. I've made felted soaps and ornaments with it as well as this sweater. So, a little goes a long way. I wouldn't buy it at your local craft store because it will be a rip off. I'd look into some online vendors
  • Needle Felting Tool. This I did pick up at the craft store. I bought one by the company Clover with three needles in it. They are sharp as a mother so be careful as you stab away on your sweater.
  • A Sponge or Bristle Brush Block. Again, I snagged mine at the local craft joint. This is the cushion that you use under the punching of the needle.
Having never needle felted before, I watched a couple videos on youtube. I have found that when learning a new craft, the more tutorials, the better. Here's my feeble attempt:
  1. Pulling the roving. When you get ready to needle felt, pull apart the roving carefully, as if you are gently pulling off a piece of cotton candy. Done correctly, it should look like the photo above.
2.  Shaping the roving. I was creating circles in the above photo, so I gently rolled the roving into a ball and held it in place with my finger. Place your sweater on top of your sponge or bristle brush punching pad.
3.  Punching the Roving. Seriously, watch your fingers! Getting stabbed is not a pleasant experience as those needles are not only sharp but slightly serrated. As you needle punch, your roving will shrink in size as half of it will go through the other side of your sweater. You can shape the roving by angling your punching tool.
4. Making Diana Ross Hair. Because that's what you wanted on your sweater, right? To add a circle around your dot, pull roving as in step one, lay onto sweater and start punching.
5. Punching, Punching, Punching. It's like Fight Club but without Brad Pitt. Sorry.
6. Shaping the Roving. I love that you can shape the direction of the roving just by angling the punching tool and moving the roving. Here I am completing my circle by overlapping the roving.
This photo and the one below should give you an idea how much the roving shrinks as you punch it. I formed the roving into a leaf shape...
...and used my needle to do the rest of the shaping. I added a very thin strip of dark green for the vein in the leaf. Again, for those small details, watch those digits!
Here's a view of the back of my sweater. I flipped over the Anthro sweater to see if theirs was as fuzzy and it wasn't. I'm not sure if that means they trimmed the back or if they just didn't punch as hard as me.
And here's a view of my dining room table. Which has now become Needle Felting Central. Sorry, hubs.
Again, I blame the ridonkulousness of this pose on my showing off my felt-y elbows. sweater: cashmere with Target tags, thrifted; wood paneled skirt: old, Target; tights: geez, Target!; boots: Frye found second hand
I gotta tell you, this needle felting business is addictive. I started on this one morning and didn't stop until well after noon. I was so excited when I was finished, I showed it off to hubs and the following transaction went down (you know, I just can't have a single post without a lil bit of dialog):

Me (complete with bedhead and pyjamas at 3pm): Look! I finished my sweater! (realizing I'm still with bedhead and pyjamas) And I'm still in my pj's! And it's after 3!

Hubs: Yep. Just what I'd always hoped married life would be like.

Yeah, well, as I always like to tell him, you're stuck with me now, mister! 

I do hope this here post has inspired you to do some punching of your own. Of the needle felting variety, that is. Happy Punching!