Tuesday, January 22, 2013

What the Art Teacher Wore #51

Monday with the Moms: Okay, I'm just going to brag and say I have the best moms at my school. A couple of them have been working with the kids to create a ceramic piece for a fundraiser. If you don't have mom helpers, I strongly encourage you to send out an email and just ask. You won't believe the response you'll receive! sweater and skirt: someone PLEASE make me step away from the Anthropologie sale rack, it is so awesome right now!; tights: Target; belt: made by me for the Gnome Dress; shoes: Miss Albright, Anthro
 Hiya, dudes. Sorry for the slightly delayed "What I Wore this Week" as I know you were just dying to see what duds I donned. But I have a good excuse:  My mom was in town from Indiana! We didn't have the chance to see each other over the holidays and so there was much gift-giving, chitty-chattering and face-timing with lil Bro and his girlfriend to do. Not to mention the serious retail therapy and dining out we indulged in. When we weren't together, I did manage to finish a DIY that nearly was the end of me (pretty sure I say that about every DIY). Spoiler: it involves 17 yards of tulle. A tool working with tulle? Never a good idea.

Along with my weekly wears, check out these rad photos hubs managed to get with his Christmas present. I got him a deer camera and he mounted it in the woods near our house. He's not a hunter but a big time animal lover and thoroughly enjoys seeing these animals in their element. I think I like these furry neighbors of ours way better than the human ones. 

I do hope you enjoy. Stay tuned for this week's DIY and possibly a finished art project by the lil artists. Until then, have a wonderful week!
Hubs had his camera on the motion sensor to capture these shots. This weekend he switched it so that the camera will start recording 30 second snippets of video. I can't wait to see what it captures.
Too Warm for Snow Tuesday: You already heard me whining about my lack of a Snow Day here. With the 50 degree temps we experienced this weekend, I have this sneaky suspicion we aren't going to score a free day this year. Such sadness. dress: Max and Cleo, TJMaxx; fur collar: gift from a friend; tights: Target; leg warmers: Germany; boots: Anthro
You might notice in some of these photos that the bucks are missing an antler. This is the time of year that the deer begin to lose their antlers. They grow them again in the spring. Hubs has found at least three deer antler on his walks in our neighborhood woods. We've got a couple on our mantle and one on our deck for the squirrels. Apparently they are a fan of the marrow.
Giant Bun Wednesday: I actually had  a student inquire what was inside my hair that "makes it so big." I told him donuts. And I have a kindergartener convinced that it's what I eat that causes my legs to "change colors". When I wore my purple tights, I told her I had eaten too many grapes and the white tights made my legs white from too much milk. This time when she asked what I'd been eating, I asked her what she thought. "Cotton candy and ketchup." Like, ew. dress, sweater, sweater clip: vintage; shoes: thrifted; red fishnets and turquoise tights: Target: bow belt: Pinkyotto
Can you count how many deer are in this photo? The camera isn't supposed to make a sound but it must do something. In many of the photos the deer are looking right at the camera. I love the thick coat of fur on this guy.
Big Ole Skirt Thursday: The only prob with wearing a crinoline under your skirt is that you are constantly knocking things off tables! I must have sent a dozen works of art flying off tables and to the floor with just a stroll through the art room. sweater and tights: Target, old; shirt and necklace: gift; skirt: made by me, tutorial here; belt: Pin Up Girl; shoes: Softt
While the deer cam was snapping away photos of animals in the wild, I managed to get a photo of this 18 lbs. beast with my cat cam. We found out this week that not only does she resemble Garfield in her girth and tabbiness but also her affinity for lasagna. P.S. If you come to my house for leftover lasagna, don't mind the cat hair.
Floral Legs Friday: Sometimes I don't even know what I was thinking when I put together an outfit. Take this fine specimen for example. Flowers? Plaid? I should thrown in some polka dots and called it a day. What in the world...? blouse, brooch and skirt: vintage; sweater: thrifted; tights: Urban Outfitters; shoes: Anthro
Hands down my fave deer camera photo so far, this image of Grizzly Adams. Or is that Chuck Norris? Sasquatch, perhaps? The world may never know...

Thursday, January 17, 2013

DIY: Skirtin' the Issue

Dude, I'll have ya know that I suffered at nearly freezing temps to snap these photos. My goosebumps had goosebumps. Only a cup of hot tea and quality time with the space heater made it so I could feel my toes again.
 I am in a particularly fragile state. Since Monday evening, my life has been an emotional roller coaster from hopeful, to elated, then surprised, disappointed, hurt and just plain angry. I am on the road to recovery but it's been a very difficult week.

What could have caused so much headache and heartache in my life over the past couple of days? What could have possibly had me crossing my fingers, gnashing my teeth and shaking my fist at the sky above?

The possibility of a Snow Day that never came.
 It started Monday night when there was the chance of an ice storm. I had to scrap a thick layer of ice from my car after school and I just knew it was a sign. Our Snow-Day-Soothsayin' Custodian even confirmed my thoughts with a cheery, "I'll see you Wednesday since we'll be out Tuesday!" When I got home that night, I plotted and planned my DIYs for the next day. This here skirt was one of 'em.
 You might remember this pattern. I first featured it in my short list of New Years resolutions as being a new pattern I'd like to try. I'm not a fan of the vest (the pattern calls it a weskit) and I'm most def not doin' nuthin with sleeves right now. But I just knew that skirt would be the Jerry McGuire to my wardrobe and I also just knew I'd have all day Tuesday to complete it.
 But no. To school we went. However, at the end of the day, they sent us home a half an hour early because an ice storm was supposedly on it's way. I was even more hopeful this time around and decided to get a jump start on this DIY by cutting out the pattern pieces. I used this giant piece of fabric I picked up at Urban Outfitters years ago. They were selling it as a bed spread and I scored it for a mere $9. It looks to me like a Tammis Keefe design (whose vintage fabric reproductions I've used here and here). 
 But once again, the weather failed to produce. Sigh. After all of that torture, I just came to the realization that I wasn't going to get my day. So last night I attacked this dress with the determination to knock it out. Snow Day or no Snow Day, I was going to make this skirt. Even if I stayed up entirely too late and paid for it dearly today.
Asha the Photo Bomber. Look at her not paying the least bit of attention to me and my latest creation. Her thought processes are focused solely on: Squirrel! Bird! Did You Just Drop Cheese on the Floor?! Squirrel!
 Now when I say "knock it out", that kinda implies that I was just able to whip this skirt up in no time. Oh no. Nothing in Sewing City comes easily for me. Especially with directions written in vintage speak. I got as far as the waistband when the directions simply said, "Put in waistband." No how-to or step-by-step just put in waistband. What, by waving my wand? Cuz that didn't work on the Snow Day so I know it's not gonna do me any good on el waistbando.

So I youtubed it. That's right, I just typed in "sew in a waistband" and some marvelous lady named Professor Pincushion held my hand and walked me through the process in 20 minutes flat. I am in love with youtube tutorials. I'm almost certain I could remove my own kidney with the right tute. Now if only I could find the one titled "Bringing Snow to Middle Tennessee."
 Hey, would you look at that pretty little machine! It's an addition to my Brother sewing machine fam, my Brother serger. I was thrilled to see it already threaded so I used it as is straight out of the box to finish my seams and hems. Doesn't that look nice? Kinda makes me feel like a Big Girl Sewer. Which I couldn't be further from.
 Outfit Details: faux fur collar: Christmas present from a follow Hoosier; birdie sweater, green fishnets, burnt orange tights: Target; white collared blouse: as seen in the other photos, gift from my mom in law; pearl necklace: gift from a friend; belt: Pin Up Girl; shoes: Softt; crinoline: Pre-Post Modern, Nashville

So, okay. I didn't need that Snow Day after all to be productive and scratch this resolution off my list. And, honestly, there is so much fun stuff happening in the art room right now (more on that next week, I hope!) that I'd hate to miss out. I mean, if we'd been out, I wouldn't have had this convo with a third grade boy today:

TGB: Mrs. Stephens, how did you get your skirt so puffy?
Me: I have something called a crinoline under my skirt. It's like a ballerina's tutu.
TGB: Why would you wear a tutu?
Me: To make my skirt puffy. When your grandmother was younger, she probably wore one under her skirts and dresses too. 
TGB: Oh. So it's an old people thing. Okay.

Yeah. That's it. 

Until we chat again, enjoy Friday and your week's end!

Sunday, January 13, 2013

What the Art Teacher Wore #50

Rude Awakening Monday: This may or may not be my "do I REALLY have to go back to school?" face. The hardest part this week has been waking up and moving. I mean, I can be awake and lay in bed for hours but that ain't paying my thrift store bills. sweater: Anthro label, picked up at Buffalo Exchange; skirt: ancient, JCrew; shoes, gloves and hair clips: old, Anthro; tights: Target; scarf: Germany
Well, hello there. I bring to you what I wore this week along with some tales from the Brothers Grimm and illustrations by the amazing Arthur Rackham. As my fourth grade students began their castle sculptures (you can see the beginning stages of the project here and our inspiration here), a student asked if they could add a knight to their landscape. Another wanted to add a princess in a tower. When one mentioned adding Rapunzel, I suddenly knew we were on to something. 

So this week I am going to introduce to them some tales by the Brothers Grimm and share with them these illustrations by Arthur Rackham. I've always had a thing for Rackham's illustrations but I was unaware of his silhouettes until doing some online digging. I'll keep you posted on where this leads their castle creations. Until then, I hope you have a fantastical fairy-tale-esque week!
Grimm Brothers Statue in their birthplace of Hanau, Germany. Jacob (1785–1863) and Wilhelm Grimm (1786–1859), were German which ties in so nicely with our current theme of study. The brothers both had a great interest in folk tales and spent most of their adult lives collecting and recording folk stories. The brothers wrote and modified so many of the folk tales that we know and love today. Among them are Snow White, The Frog Prince, Hansel and Gretel (not the movie version), Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty. 
Self-Portrait by Arthur Rackham, used in the book Aesop's Fables, 1912. Born in London, Rackham was one of 12 children. He discovered his love for illustration early in his life and it was his lifelong career. I had Aesop's Fables with his illustrations as a kid and they had a huge impact on me and my love for drawing.
The Return of the Children Tuesday: Bring 'em. I'm ready. At least that's what I've been telling myself. However, one of my New Years resolutions is to cut out coffee (I'm still drinking two cups of black tea a day for the sake of those near me) and it's been tough. I have noticed I'm a lot more chill. Probably because I'm asleep during class. sweater: Banana Republic, thrifted; skirt: vintage, thrifted; red top: some weird place in Nashville whose name escapes me; tights: Target; boots: Seychelles; belt: Anthro
I need to start scouring the thrift stores for gems like this. Rackham illustrated the work of many authors but Grimm's Fairy Tales is probably the most popular.
Rapunzel. So the story goes that a wife is preggers and has a mad craving for some rampion (a veg kinda like a carrot) that she spies in the yard of a witchy neighbor. Good hubs goes to fetch her some and promises off the first born to the witch for a bushel. The witch names the girl Rapunzel and locks her in a tall tower because she's too doggone pretty for her own good. When the witch wants to come for tea, she hollers the famous, "Rapunzel, Rapunzel, let down your hair." A hunky prince happens by, sees cute Rapunzel and hatches a plan to be together. Of course there are some bumps in the road as there always are in fairy tales but ultimately they end up happily ever after.
Arthur Rackham's style of drawing was pretty inventive. He would lightly draw in pencil, trace over with ink, add layers of wash and more pencil to give his work a lot of depth. I love the shadows of the birds flying by in this image above. Do you see it? It's on the wall of the castle.
Gnome Dress Upon Request: My friends in first grade land asked me if I'd wear my gnome dress this week. How could I deny 'em that? We are just now creating our gnomes, so we had fun looking at all the silliness the gnomes at the bottom of my dress were up to. gnome dress: made by me, DIY here; shoes and sweater: Anthro; tights; Target
The Sleeping Beauty. So Rackham also did this amazing silhouette thing that I was totally unfamiliar with.
Okay, you know this story, right? Queen has a baby, has a big party but forgets to invite that one fairy who is rather witchy and annoying. Well, you know witchy fairy came anyway and cast a terrible spell on the baby. Thankfully another fairy quickly altered the spell: that when the girl was 16, she would prick herself on a spindle and fall into a deep sleep. Forever. Or until she finds true love. Which is pretty hard to do when you are awake, let alone passed out with drool running down your cheek. The Queen demands that another spell be cast that everyone in the castle fall asleep until the Princess awakes. Not long after that, a hunky Prince stumbles upon a very quiet (except for the snoring) castle and explores the inside only to find this beautiful drooly princess. She and the rest of the kingdom are awoken with a kiss.
These are referred to as silhouette cuts which I guess means Rackham cut them out with scissors. Wow. I've always loved silhouettes.
Bang a Gong Thursday: Did you know I have a gong in my room? Yeah, it was my 10th year wedding anniversary prezzie from the hubs. Best not to ask. Anyway, it serves as our Clean Up Gong along with the Clean Up Drums and the Clean Up Chime. I have the pleasure of hearing it played about nine times a day. Advil, anyone? knights jousting dress: to inspire the fourth graders and their castles! vintage, etsy; sweater: vintage; belt: Anthro; tights: Target; shoes: Dolls by Nina

Rumpelstiltskin. So a poor dude has a lovely daughter and goes about bragging to the king that she can spin gold. The king then takes her, commands she spin some gold and locks her in a room. She can't spin gold! So she sets about freaking out when a little dude appears and promises to spin gold for her if she'll trade something valuable. For days she swaps him her jewelry for his help. When she runs out of stuff, she promises her first born. In the meantime, the King thinks he's hit the jackpot and marries the ole Gold Spinner. Not too long after, she has a baby and ole Rumpelstiltskin comes a-knockin.
Obviously, the Queen is not about to part with that baby. So old Rumpel makes a deal that she can keep her child if she can guess his name in three days time. By day two, she still has no clue as to his name until a knight comes to her with a story of how he overheard Rumpelstiltskin talk to himself in the third person (I've always thought people who do that are weird). On that third day, she says the famous, "Perhaps your name is...Rumpelstiltskin...?" and the rest is fairy tale history.
Biker Friday: I wore this dress because of the great Renaissance-esque patterns at the bottom. My fourth graders are creating totally toilet-paper-roll tubular castles so I thought I'd dress the part. I was thrilled to see several of them had checked out books on castles from the school library. By the way, I promise I wasn't going for a biker look. But it's been rainy this week and I love any excuse to bust out these Hunter boots. jacket: old, Modcloth; dress: Angie; boots: Hunter
Cinderella. Poor Cindy. She's got that rotten stepmother and evil step sisters to contend with. When the King invites everyone to a grand ball, Cindy has to help sew gowns for the sisters and is told by her stepmother she isn't allowed to attend.
It's then that her Fairy Godmother appears and with the wave of a wand, has Cindy looking fab. But you know the catch: Midnight curfew. No later.
Thankfully she leaves behind that glass slipper which is like fairy tale DNA. Once the slipper is on, the Prince knows he's found his mystery girl. I'm guessing she was one of those rare big footed gals like myself. Any other size 10 footed females wanna back me on this?

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

In the Art Room: Wait, Where Were We Again?

We were collage landscaping: My fantastic fourth grade students completed these landscapes just before winter break which was a kind of miracle. Thus far, this project involved painting the sky, oil pastel texturing paper for land and collaging. But the real excitement of constructing toilet paper tube castles began this week. I can honestly say I've never seen kids have more fun with ole tp tubes. You can see our inspiration here.
 Have you ever had one of those deep sleeps that when you wake up, you've no idea who/what/when/where you are? Kinda like that time during spring break when you took that trip down to that place and drank too much of that one stuff and you hung out with someone whose name you can't remember and you might have done somethings that probably aren't legal in most states...or maybe that's just me.

 Regardless, that's how going back to school this past week has been. No matter how organized I left my classroom (granted, my idea of organization being that stuff is stuffed into random cabinets and...shooooved...clooooosed...there! Whew!) I still come back in a fog. Thankfully, I snapped these photos right before we left so I'd remember what we'd been up to. And so I could share them with you. See how nice I am? 

If you are a teacher, I hope your return trip back this week has been a good one. If you aren't a teacher, say a little prayer for the rest of us, would you? Particularly that the kiddos don't open any of my cabinets and become buried underneath all of my "hey! I've been looking for that!"
We were surprising our art teacher: With their awesomeness. Seriously. I am so impressed by my students. I love their landscapes and cannot wait to see the end result. I'll be certain to share it with you.
We were cardboard printing: Ack! Would some responsible art teacher get this second grade kid an apron!? These prints were made with gold paint (sadly the metallic doesn't photograph well) and will be used as the background for our cuckoo clocks. You might have heard me mention those here and here.
We were printing patterns: You might notice that I tri-folded the construction paper. As they were printing, the kids were instructed to create one pattern in a column and then repeat that in the other two columns. Then, boom, you got a pattern. These folded lines really helped them keep their patterns in place and not just stamp randomly all over the paper. Although there was some of that.
We were cuckoo clocking: So the printed background will be the wall for us to hang our cuckoo clocks on. This project has been so much fun since we've learned how to write in Roman numeral and create a clock. Do you see the brown paper underneath? That is our wooden clock crafted from textured brown paper that we cut and wove. 
We were munching: We might have had some quasi German treats as our intro to all things Deutscheland-ish. The kids were required to say, "Brezel und gummibarchen, bitte. Danke!" Don't worry, I had some gluten free pretzels and the like for my friends with allergies. I'd hate to see them miss out. 
We were collaging: The first grade has been creating the Black Forest as a home for their gnome. We just started crafting our gnomes this week and they couldn't be more excited. In fact, I wore my gnome dress today because it was requested by one of my classes. So cute!
And some of us were seriously collaging trees: I mean, wow. First grade? Dude. Luckily she finished the other two off this week.
We were (and still are) asking about Jes: Silly guy is lost in the mail. He'll make it to his next destination. In the meantime, a concerned second grader created this Lost Jes poster with a pretty handsome reward.
 I'll share with you the complete lessons and the end result when(ever!) we get 'em done.

Chat soon!

Monday, January 7, 2013

DIY: Put a Bird on It

I am interrupting this post with a link to my latest felted sweater...my 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!