Sunday, February 10, 2013

What the Art Teacher Wore #54

 Valentine's Monday: This week I decided to get into the Valentine's Day spirit. Which for me meant I wore just a pinch more red and pink that usual. This was a little DIY dress and collar I crafted last year. You can check it out here if you wanna. dress, collar: vintage dress, DIY'ed by me; tights, red shirt: Target; boots, belt: Anthropologie

Hey, dudes. I hope this Sunday evening finds you relaxed and ready to start the new week. I've got the relaxed thing's going back into the art room that concerns me. I've got so many big plans for upcoming art adventures I just hope I can keep up!

Somehow, while spending entirely too much time online, I stumbled upon the photo below. I think every art teacher needs a little Dior palette hat in their lives, don't you? This hat reminded me of how much I love Christian Dior and his New Look which took fashion by storm in 1947. I thought I'd share just a few photos from that era with you this week. 

Until then, I hope you have a lovely Valentine's Day week!
Stephen Jones for Christian Dior Haute Couture, Autumn Winter 2007–08 I love that this model is not only meant to look like she is from the New Look era but she is also painted black and white. Genius. I've loved and collected vintage fashion since high school. Back then I was really into the hippie look, complete with giant bell bottoms and platform shoes. I even painted daisies and the Beatles on the bottom of a pair of my dad's old jeans. Wore 'em, like, every day. But I always picked up dresses from the 50s when I found them at the thrift store. I wasn't interested in wearing them at the time, but I knew they were special.
Candy Cane Tuesday: None of the kids were getting the Valentine's reference with this outfit. They just old me I looked like a candy cane. sweater: vintage, thrifted; dress: Germany; tights: Target; belt: Pin Up Girl Clothing; shoes: Softt; flower: H&M
Renee, The New Look of Dior, Place de la Concorde, Paris, August 1947 by Richard Avedon Not until The Golden Age of Couture exhibit at the Frist Center for Visual Arts did I find out just how special these dresses were. Not only did the exhibit showcase photos like the one above but there were also dresses galore from the New Look collection. I went to that exhibit at least four times. I just couldn't get enough. It was then that I really began wearing my, at the time, small collection of dresses from the 1950s. That collection is now beginning to look like an episode of hoarders but we'll address that another time (read: never).
Richard Avedon Self-Portrait, 1963 Oh man, can I just take a time out from Dior and tell you how much I love the photography of Richard Avedon? Dude, I mean, seriously. Google his name and some of the most amazing images you'll ever see will pop up. I think I need a coffee table book of his work, stat.
Lame Hair Wednesday: Seriously. I've been slacking in the hair department of late. I'm enjoying my sleep more than I am a good 'do. When is bedhead gonna become stylish, anyway? I mean, this morning when I awoke, I was totally rockin' the Mel Gibson Braveheart hair look. Shoulda went with it. sweater, tights: Target; dress: Buffalo Exchange, Anthro tags; belt: Anthropologie; shoes: Dolls by Nina; necklace: created by a friend

Left: Christian Dior {New Look 1947} in front of the Eiffel Tower ~ Paris, France; Right:  Christian Dior measuring a hemline. Dior's New Look line dramatically increased the length of women's skirts. During World War II, regulations were issued by the U.S. government to set skirt lengths at 17 inches above the floor in an effort to conserve textiles. Women were entering the work force more than ever and this length seemed to suit them and their ability to work comfortably. After the war and the regulations ended, Christian Dior lengthened hemlines again. This infuriated many who saw this not only as a set back for women but also as wastefulness. 

Thursday: After a bumpy class, I received the sweetest email from a mom who said that although her kindergartener was out sick, the little one was still able to teach her mom all about tints and shades with a landscape painting lesson. The photo that was attached to my email immediately cheered me up and was just what I needed to readjust my mood. sweater: vintage, gift from MIL; dress: Anthropologie ($19, yo!); tights: Target; shoes: Indigo by Clarks
Male students protest against longer hemlines at Michigan State University, circa 1947
 Yeah, leave it to a bunch of guys to protest longer hemlines. If it's one thing I learned in college, never trust the dudes who claim to be feminists. But I digress. Is it just me or isn't the idea of people protesting over clothing being too long just fascinating? If you search the internet, you'll find images of women wearing the New Look and other women ripping their clothing off or throwing water at them. It's amazing that a hemline the goes down could cause such an uproar.
Women protesting Dior’s long skirts. Chicago, Illinois - September 22, 1947 Despite the protests, women everywhere fell in love with the designs of Dior (even if one unfortunate lass in Cali got her hemline caught in the door of a bus as she exited. Poor thing had to run along side the bus until the driver noticed and set her free). For this reason, Dior became an overnight sensation and was able to help revive the fashion industry in Paris. 
Do you Dior, Friday? My wanna-be Dior inspired look. I am completely in love with wearing a crinoline under my dresses now. Not only is it warm but it's so full and fun. This one I am wearing is just some cheapo thing. I think I'm going to put a temporary halt to my dress-buying-disease and save up for a real crinoline. Any suggestions from you crinoline wear-ers out there? sweater: vintage, thrifted; dress, belt: Anthro (dress, $29! Seriously, if you don't get there and scoop up some of those sales, I'm going to end up buying everything!); tights: Target; shoes: Softt
 New Look, Christian Dior, 1947 On one of the occasions when I went to the Golden Couture exhibit, I had the chance to hear one of the curator's speak. She told us the story of how she went to an auction and saw a lump of red fabric with a Dior label. Despite the fact that the dress was a mess, she bid up to $3000 of the museum's money on the dress, thinking she was getting the bargain of a lifetime. Turns out the museum had to spend about $8000 just to repair the dress. However, if it's a Dior, than it's worth it, right? You just can't pay enough for that much glamor.

 A Typical Weekend: Speaking of glamor, would you take a look at this little Dior-inspired number. Hubs, who has to deal with me looking like this more often than not, insisted on snapping these photos of me today. I cannot believe I'm actually sharing these photos with you...I mean, there are strings hanging off my butt! I have tape stuck to my jacket and my socks don't even match. But, since I'm all about full disclosure, here you go. If you "accidentally" stop following my blog, I completely understand. jacket: Mountain Hardware: sweats: borrowed from hubs; mismatched socks: Thorlos

 Sigh. Only on this blog will I take you on a trip from Christian Dior to linty sweats. You're welcome.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

In the Art Room: Kindergarten Self-Portraits as Artists

If you've ever been in art school, then you know there's always that one dude that's always givin' the girls that one look. Thankfully, on a kindergartener, it's rather cute.
 Greetings from kindergarten-land! My wee artists finished off these self-portraits last week and I'm so excited to share them with you. My kinder-artists create a self-portrait every year but this time I wanted to do something a little different. I wanted them to portray themselves as artists, complete with apron, paint palette and brush.
Yes, that is a paint brush. Not...anything else it might resemble. Note to self: next year, have the kids paint the brushes brown to make them appear less doobie-esque.
 I began this portrait lesson as I do every year, with a reading of The Colors of Us. I love how the author chats about how we are all different and beautiful colors, even equating our coloring to delicious foods. After that, the kids return to their seats and trace a head shape onto their paper to which they add a neck and ears. From there they chose a color from a variety that is the color of them. Once painted, these are put on the drying rack until next time.
To the kids, I refer to this as Funny Faced Fred but behind his back, I call him Freak Face. Again, kinda reminds me of the creeper dudes in my art classes. I mean, just check out his myspace page (ha, made you look). Despite the crazy looks, this silliness really does teach them a great deal about expressions. And, of course, they love Fred.
 The following art class is spent looking at a variety of portraits. After chatting about those, I bust out Fred to talk about how we might portray our emotions. Once I give a demo, the kids set to work on their self-portraits with oil pastels. 

From there, we cut out the self-portraits from the original paper and glue to them to a 12" X 18" piece of white paper. We spend more time looking at ourselves in the mirrors to see how we might paint our hair. On our portrait, that is. Although we do our fair share of getting paint where it shouldn't be in Kindergartenland.
I know what you are thinking: What's with the blacked out teeth? Well, five years of age is when we start losing our teeth...and it is an event that must be documented. So we always block out our most recent tooth loses.

With our portrait portion complete, we move on to "getting dressed for art". The kids added a 12" X 6" piece of construction paper that they had rounded the shoulders and created a collar for. I recycled our messy mats and turned them into aprons that the kids glued to their shirts. 
Creating the paint palette turned out to be a wonderful review of color mixing and our friend Roy G. Biv. Once that dried, we added it, our paint brush (an art straw that we frayed and colored one end of) and a die cut hand (after three weeks in self-portrait town, I was not willing to spend an art class having them trace and cut out their own hands). 

Our last step was to recall our study of lines and patterns from the beginning of the school year. Using our tempra cakes, we decorated the background and, ta-da! one adorable self-portrait as artist complete. 

After we finished, I had this exchange with one of my students:

Little Dude: Mrs. Stephens, I am going to be an art teacher when I am big, just like you!

Me: Cool! And then I can retire and paint all day.

L.D.: What does retire mean?

Me: It means I don't teach anymore.

L.D.: But you can't do that! I am going to teach in the art room with you!

Well, shoot! How can I ever retire now? I mean, how much fun would it be to teach with one of your students? Well...on second thought...

Thanks for dropping by!

Monday, February 4, 2013

DIY: Bedazzled Bobbie Pins

I think a hand-written letter is one of my favorite things in the world. Not only do I keep just about every note I've ever received, but I also have a thing for collecting the letters of others. In fact, last year I was inspired by old letters to create these two paintings. My favorite line in the letter above: You must surely write to me here as sometime the time hangs heavily passes slowly and I like to then, more than ever, read something from U.S.A. So poetic, that Fred!
 So, have I ever told you the story about the time I got busted taking photos inside of Anthropologie? I don't even remember what I was snapping a picture of but I do recall attempting to be all stealthy-like with my camera phone. You know, pretending to dial while preparing to snap away. The prob? I had never figured out how to silence that stupid fake camera click. And as soon as I took a couple pictures sounding every bit like a crazed paparazzi outside Lindsay Lohan's latest rehab clinic, I knew I was done. The once super-sweet Anthro girl who was arranging the two hundred dollar dresses on the rack froze and turned around slowly with one eye brow raised and lips pursed.

"Excuse me, but are you taking PICTURES? Because we do not allow people to take PICTURES in Anthropologie."

"Oh! So sorry! Um, it was my phone. It makes picture-taking sounds..."

"You mean when it's taking PICTURES."

"Um, yeah. I guess."

Eye roll and sigh. Don't ask me how she managed to do that with her eyebrow raised. Must be an Anthro thing. "Please, do not take any more PICTURES." 

 Oh, look, sweetie, I don't need to! I can just pull them from your website. These clips are currently going for $28 for a group of four. Which is too much for something I will most likely lose to a coat pocket, counter top or down the sink drain. And I wonder why the doggone thing gets stopped up.

On a recent shopping trip to Anthro with a buddy (having one less than a mile from my school has become super duper dangerous), I was recounting the above tale. Because I'm a notorious loud talker, one of the Anthro girls, who'd yet to perfect her snotty face, interjected, "You can take all the pictures you want in here!" 

Wait, what?

"Yeah, we were told to allow people to take pictures of whatever they want. I mean, it's not like they are going to open up their own Anthropologie."

"Ha, right? Or copy everything and blog about it!"

A friend at work gave me a huge bag of old broken jewelry. I didn't have a clue what to do with it until I saw those hair clips. Armed with my hot glue gun and jewelers tools, I set to work with some ribbon, babbles and bobbie pins.
 But not just any bobbie pins. I picked these up at the craft store. Because I didn't think that wee circle would be large enough to hold my bedazzles, I also bought small cork circles to attach to the bobbie pin circle. This gave me a larger surface to glue my jewels to.

 For some reason, as I was creating these, I made them into miniature groupings. Probably because that's how they are sold at Anthro. When they were finished, I thought: How sweet would a grouping of these be as Valentine's Gifts? The above are apart of the Shy Bathing Suit Girl set.

 Little back story: hubs saw this photo and informed me that the long lost key hot glued to one of the clips was one that belonged to his grandfather. Apparently one of the few things he brought back from World War II was this wood crafted box from Africa that can only be opened with, you guessed it, my hair clip key. Oops.

 Last year, I bought a grouping of vintage teacher Valentines off etsy. Each one is painstakingly signed by a student with a name like "Marsha" or "Deborah" on the back. These bobbie pins were created with beads from an old necklace and velvet ribbon from my stash.

 And I think they might be too cute to give away. I kinda sorta have a secret love affair with red and leopard print. I'm trying to keep it on the down low but it's really starting to show in my wardrobe. Whatcha gonna do? Ya can't stop true love.

Oh! And P.S. the right is a sneak peak at next week's DIY, eep!

 If you look closely at the blue jeweled piece, that is actually two different broken pieces of jewelry put together. Because they were both pretty unstable, I attached a cork circle to the bobbie pin, covered it in pink ribbon and glued the jewels to the top. The dog looks pretty happy. The awkward placement of the boy's foot is kinda freakin' me out though.
I scooped up these vintage postcards of Nuremburg during my trip there this summer. I love this grouping of hair clips with the velvety moss green and the pale pink. You'll notice that many of these hair-cessories are just broken jewels glued to the 'pins. Easy.
 Put a bird on it. Seriously, do I ever NOT put a bird on something? It's a disease, people. I'm bird-anorexic.

So let's say you wanna make some bedazzled bobbie pins of your see it's super easy. And the best places to find broken jewels: the thrift store, your junk draw and your mom's old jewelry box. Just avoid anything that looks like an old key. Trust me on that one.

And the next time you are in Anthro, remember to snap a couple pictures for me!

Sunday, February 3, 2013

What the Art Teacher Wore #53

Oh, Monday: A coupla weekends ago, I dug some dresses out of my closet that I had never worn. Some were holey, too summery or just a pinch too tight. I forced myself to try them all on and see if they should be sold, kept or donated. I always thought this one was too tight but a lil Spanx came to the rescue. dress: vintage, thrifted; brown tights: Target; sparkle fishnets: TJMaxx; booties and belt: Anthropologie
 Well, kids, I finally got my wish: I scored a Snow Day this past Friday! How many weeks have I spent whining about getting gypped outta a day of freedom? Apparently the Snow Day Gods were just so sick and tired of the endless bellyaching, they threw a day my way. And, lemme tell you, I totally spent my time wisely by enjoying a bubble bath, catching up on Project Runway and sewing (read seam ripping) up a storm. What a gift.

But now it's back to reality. Wah-wah-waaahhh. So I'm doing a little multitasking with this here blog post: I'm sharing what I wore as well as a brief history of wool and weaving. My second and fourth grade students are ready to leave our study of Germany and travel to the United Kingdom where we will enter the Wild World of Weaving. We're trying some new things this year so wish me luck. 

Until next time, enjoy your week!
The story of man-wearing-wool began way back before recorded history with the primitive man. Not wanting to waste any parts of the animals that were hunted for food, man discovered that this fur could keep him cool in the day and warm at night. And because no other fabric has been able to match it, wool is still just as popular today.
Mary Poppins Tuesday:  Several students commented that I looked Mary-Poppins-esque on this day. Which I totally took as a compliment. However, that afternoon when I was walking to a coffee shop, a group of teenagers stopped their convo when I walked by. When one started belting out,"Just a spoon full of sugar makes the medicine go down!", it just wasn't as cute. dress: vintage, picked up at an arts festival in Memphis; sparkly tights: TJMaxx; shoes: Softt; belt: Pin Up Girl
Wool is a part of Britain's history and heritage more than anything else produced in the islands. They began weaving it into cloth during the Bronze Age (which is in between the Glitter and the Bedazzled Ages) around 1900 BC.
Wood Panel Skirt Wednesday: This funny skirt spent time in my donate pile before I returned it to my closet. Which, according to The Secret Lives of Hoarders means I have a problem. One of many, I'm sure. sweater: felted by me, DIY here; wood panel skirt: Target, super old; boots: Frye
How is wool made? Why, you looking for a new hobby? Well, okay then, first get yourself a super furry sheep. Or goat, camel, alpaca, llama -- many animals have fur that can produce wool. Then shear them. I'm guessing with a shearing tool like that above, not your Bic razor.
Once the wool is sheared, it must be cleaned and carded. In the painting above, you'll notice the woman is holding two large wooden carding combs. The wool fiber is raked through these combs to alight the fibers of the wool. This makes it easier for spinning the wool into yarn.
I mean, look, doesn't that look so super easy? Can you imagine how precious your possessions would be to you if these were the lengths you had to go to create them? From shearing to carding and spinning and still nothin' to wear. I could have never survived back in the day. It's no wonder their lives were short-lived.
Midway Thursday: On this day our school was hosting a carnival in the evening. I'd never heard a carnival called a "midway" before. I'm curious about the history of that name. I decided my Fulla Hot Air Frock would be appropriate. dress: DIY here; sweater: thrifted; tights: Target: scarf: Urban Outfitters; belt: Anthropologie; shoes: Opposites Attract
Somehow I ended up in the Throw-a-Pie-at-Your-Teacher booth! I was supposed to sit behind that banner and put my head through the hole but that just felt like a cop-out. However, after ending up with stinky whipped cream everywhere, I realized that would have been a pretty good idea.
Weaving Cloth for Battle, 1940. Sadly, the artist is not listed on the website. This would have been every wool fiber factory in the United Kingdom during the war. All normal production ceased to create military uniforms. Clothing and fabric were among the many things rationed during World War II.
Art Museum Saturday: That's right, I skipped Snow Day Friday. Because I was in my pajamas all day! So here's what I wore to the Frist Center for Visual Arts. Only ten of my amazing little artists had their works of art featured there along with the other chosen artists in my school district. It was an exciting day for such hard working artists. suit: vintage, thrifted; tights: Target: shoes: Anthropologie
 Of course, I just can't introduce the United Kingdom and weaving without a nod to the woolen woven kilt. Men have been wearing kilts since the 16th century. The first worn was something called the great kilt which is more of a full length affair. Those featured above are called small kilts or walking kilts. The word kilt means to "tuck up the clothes around the body." I'm thinking this is just what the hubs needs to complete his wardrobe.