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!

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

12 Favorites of 2012

Favorite Memories: Star Wars Weekends at Disney. We had so much fun that plans to return are already in the works. This dress I crafted from my childhood bedsheets got some serious attention with complete strangers asking if they could snap photos of it. Sketches of the next SW dress are underway. 
 Happiest of New Years to you! I hope you managed to ring in the new year in style. And, if your style is anything like mine, you were in your pj's fast asleep wondering who was blowing up your cell phone at midnight. I know, I'm such a party animal. 

Since I woke up feeling all reminiscent-y, I thought I'd share with you my 12 faves of 2012. I started this blog back up again a year ago as one of my resolutions of 2012. I wanted a place to share my DIY's, the art projects of my students, what I wore and, just, life stuff. While scrolling through my blog this morning, I picked out some of my favorites and thought I'd share them with you. So, here they are, 12 of my Favorite Memories, What I Wore, DIY's and Art Class Projects of 2012.
Favorite Memories: A Day Trip to Graceland: I have been a big follower of both Quincy and Emma's blogs for a while. So when the stars aligned for us to all take a day trip to Memphis, I was thrilled. One of the funniest things that happened was at the end of the tour, we decided to have our photos taken. Suddenly, a newspaper dude came up and started snapping away. And then some publicity guy for Graceland. And then complete strangers who asked to have their photos taken with us. It was a hilarious moment I won't soon forget.
Favorite Memories: A European Vacation: Well, for me anyway. Hubs spent most of his days working while I tooled around Germany in my VW exploring cities, eating entirely too much gelato and shopping for souvenirs. We did spend several days vacationing in the Netherlands with Amsterdam being my favorite
In the Art Room: Fantastic Frogs: Our clay theme for the end of last year's school year was Monet's Garden and these frogs created by my third grade artists were such a hit. I love the different personalities of each frog and how much it reflected that of the artist.
In the Art Room: Leaf Printing. I learned about this process from a fabulous art instructor at the Tennessee Arts Academy. The results of each print was just breath taking and such a wonderful learning experience for positive and negative space, printing, texture and nature. Complete details of the project here.
In the Art Room: Pouch Weaving. Not to be confused with purse-weaving as the boys would never go in for this project. And it turns out that this one is always a hit, especially with the boys. Each year my fourth grade students complete these pouches as a rite of passage. I wrote out the many steps to completing these pouches in my weaving posts. You can find the first installment here.
DIY: The Blue Christmas Light Up Dress. One of my resolutions for 2012 was to sew my own clothing. Before this year, I'd only sewn one dress completely on my own. This year, I sewed nine! This light up dress was one of my favorites, from it's adorable fabric to the pattern and, most especially, the lights at the bottom (which was my genius hubs idea!).
DIY: Memories of Marilyn. I began creating these ceramic paper doll dresses after finding a bunch of photos of my maternal grandmother Marilyn. I wasn't sure what I was going to do with the dresses but I created about a dozen of them and shared a tutorial here. When a friend mentioned putting them in a shadow box with the photos that inspired them, I knew that was the answer. You can see more of the end result here. I think my grandma Marilyn would have loved this tribute to her.
DIY: Pencil Skirt and Shoes. Okay, I'll just go ahead and admit it: I've got a little bit of an applique addiction. It's kinda my version of be-dazzling something. Got a dull skirt? How about a blank apron? Need to jazz up that boring dress? Just applique the crap outta it! And you'll notice I've got the same issue with painting on shoes. Oh well. My students loved this end result.
What I Wore: Madeline for Halloween. Since the kids were learning all about Paris, France at the beginning of the school year, I decided to go all Madeline on them. This tied in so nicely with the beautiful bulletin board created by one of my practicum students. How I miss those awesome girls!
What We Wore: Dressing like Monet's Garden meets the 1950's. I had the pleasure of having one of the most incredible student teachers this year. We shared the same goofy brain and often dressed alike to teach our lessons. Her middle school students are very lucky to have such a talented and dedicated art teacher.
What I Wore: Read Across America Rainbow. Don't let my expression fool you, you know I'm lovin' this ridiculousness. This photo was taken during Read Across America week and on this day it was silly hat day. The best part about this hat was that I managed to cloud slap anyone that got to close with just the turn of the head.
  Another thing I have loved about this past year is getting to know so many of you! I have been thrilled with your comments, words of encouragement and the discovery of so many other like-minded folk. Thank you for following my blog and my dorkiness. I truly appreciate all of you. 

Happy New Year!