Friday, June 14, 2013

DIY: Mirror, Mirror

Hush. Don't even say it. I know what you're thinking:

"This Cassie-person things she's classy and fabulous? Wait, didn't I just read in her last entirely-too-long-post that she dropped a food processing blade on her foot that she bandaged up with a, what totally classy thing was it again, oh yeah, a tampon?! AND isn't she the one who makes fun of New Zealanders and their pronunciation of "decks"? I bet she punches puppies and eats food off the floor (um, no! I love puppies! And, well, yes, sometimes. Gotta get to it before the puppies do. Even if I don't have puppies.) Classy my a--" (hey! This is a family friendly blog, try to keep it clean, would ya!? Geez.)
Dude, I couldn't agree more. In fact, dear ole hubs occasionally refers to me as "Classy Cassie" because he likes to be ironic (at least I think I'm using that word correctly. Alanis Morissette has confused me for life. Canadians, I swear. Oh, crap, did I just offend another country?! Sorry, dudes). In fact, I hesitated to even share this DIY with you in light of all my recent moronicness. Seriously. And, if you can believe this, I've even managed to step it up a classless notch since last chatting with you which was, oh, 36 hours ago. Because if it's one thing I've got down, it's the classless bit. It's called perfectionist, people. You outta try bein' it.
What you see here is one classy babe. I mean, who just wakes up one morning and decides, "Yeah, Ima gonna wear my necklaces backwards," and bam! does it with a look that says, "What?! You not fabulous enough to pull this off?!" Why Coco Chanel, that's who.

 Oh, not believin' me? You're only saying that because you want more examples of what an idiot I am. Well, I always come prepared, so here you go:

So our house is full of critters and creepy crawlies inside and out. Why just the other night I found Asha the Cat running, leaping and body-slamming the front door in what I thought was a feeble attempt to escape the Haus of Food Processing Blades. Turns out she'd spotted this wee one and was just dying to get her kitten mittens on him. Probably so she could turn him into a chew toy and leave him under my side of the bed as she's done in the past. Which is yet another reason not to clean: discovering you've been sleeping just mere inches away from a fresh kill. Sometimes it's best not to know.

Don't you even say, "awww." This is the same cat that demands to be fed each morning at 5:15am, including weekends. So determined was she to get me outta bed that she once stuck her claw inside my nose and when I pulled away it raked the inside of my nostril which bled for the rest of the day. When I told hubs, he said, "well, you should have gotten up to feed her." Humph.
Anyway, frogs are just the tip of the creepy crawly iceberg at Casa de Cassie. My least favorite are spiders, right after silverfish (which hubs SWEARS do not exist and that I'm making them up. What?! Back me up here, they're the ones that when you step on 'em the other half crawls away. More than likely, up your leg, disappearing inside your shorts causing you to do your best dance moves ever).

And it's because these things make me super jumpy that the following happened: while changing the bandage on my foot, I saw the stitches out of the corner of my eye, mistook them for a spider and smacked my foot. 

That's right. 

Classy? Why, yes.

Fabulous? Would you really expect any less from me?

So when my mother-in-law gifted me this estate sale find, I just knew it'd be the perfect surface for Coco's quote. But first I had to remove that warped and fugly paper design. Which I did by stabbing and slicing it repeatedly with an Exacto-knife. It's really surprising that I've not injured myself before. Because I actually come from a long line of limb-losers (okay, just my mom. And, alright, she's just big-toe-less due to some freakish toe-in-bicycle-spoke accident. My fave part of that story is that her brother had to hold the detached toe all the way to the hospital. This also ended her foot modeling career.)
After tracing the paper circle onto a piece of paper, I wrote out the quote in sharpie and traced it onto some sort of linen-y fabric in pencil. Which is totally not how you are supposed to go about doing embroidery. Something about pinning it to your fabric, sewing through the paper design and later removing the paper with tweezers. What?! No. That sounds like time better spent doing other things. Like eating food off the floor.

When I was all finished embroidering (which, by the way, have you seen the embroidery on this dress?! Now I look more chump-y than normal. Thanks, Lauren), I busted out my fave glue. Have you ever used this stuff? I like to imagine the creator, Aleene, being some big bouffant'ed and bejeweled Southerner who was all like, "Elmer's glue?! Pshaw, honey, I need something much tackier than that if Ima gonna glue all these here shells to this here lamp. I'll just make my own glue with some Crisco and boiled down opossum." See? And you thought I was only pickin' on the Kiwis and the Canadians. Oh, naw. I'm an equal opportunity picker-on'er.
After slathering my Aleene's Tacky Glue all over the backside of the mirror, I placed the embroidery on top and used the aforementioned Exacto to shove the stray bits of fabric under the lip of the mirror.
After hanging the mirror on my sewing room wall, I felt it needed a little something more. So I added the little candy cane stripped ribbon and called it finished.
Coco Chanel sprinkling her fabulous classiness on one of her signature dresses.
And there you have it. A little embroidered reminder for me to strive toward the classy and fabulous. Which I totally forgot to do during my Multiple Doctors Appointment Day. In an attempt to be efficient, I scheduled both an eye and, ahem, a lady-parts doctor appointment in one day. This being the day after the Food Processing Blade Incident. So, imagine if you will, an eyes dilated, limpy and bandaged foot goofball stumbling into, for lack of a better term, the legs-in-stirrups room. The alarmed look on the nurse's face caused me to blurt out:

"I swear to you I'm not all jacked up on bath salts!"

"Uh, okay. What happened to you?"

"Oh, I just, you know, dropped a food processing blade on my foot that, you'll appreciate this, I bandaged with a tampon. I had to get a couple of stitches. And I was just at the eye doctor so my pupils are all coke-head huge."

"Uh, okay. I'm going to get the doctor now."

Aw, don't act like Coco Chanel wouldn't have done the very same thing. Chat at ya soon, ya'll!

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

DIY: A Mid Century Mod Dress

Do you find my creepy grin as disturbing as I do? I can't decide if it's the part where I'm trying to bare all my teeth or the dead look behind my eyes. I predict this is the same creepy grin I'll be baring upon the first day back to school. "Welcome back! I am soooo happy to see (uncomfortable swallow whilst maintaining creepo grin) yoooooou."
   Holy moly, I have so much to tell you I don't even know where to begin. Despite the title of this post, I definitely will not be chatting about this new dress right away. That was just a ploy to draw you in (because "DIY: Mid Century Mod Dress" is such a great hook, right?!). We have much more pressing matters to discuss. Like dangerous kitchen accidents with food processing blades where a tampon is applied to the wound to slow the flow. Yeah. See? I told you. LOTS to discuss.
   I don't know if you know this about me, but I have a fabric hoarding problem. No, really. I know, you're thinking, "Whatever, Stephens. Ralph Waldo Emerson said, 'Tis a rule of manners to avoid exaggeration.'" Wow. You're like so well read and stuff. But I'm not exaggerating! Upcoming post, I'll prove it to you. In the meantime, this here amazing mid-century mod fabric has been in my stash forever. Because I found it at the thrift store and there was no writing on the selvage edge, I dunno if it's actually vintage. Nonetheless, it spoke to me and said "Make me into a dress. After you make me a sandwich." Ermkay.
 Okay, so I know you're dying. Tampons?! Food processing accidents?! (Geesh, why wasn't that the title of this blog post? It woulda gone viral!) Well, just hold on. If Ima gonna tell this story right, I've gotta start at the beginning. And, like most beginnings not often shared on this here blog, mine begins with a DIY fail. Or four.
 Oh, look. My lovely deck. Funny story about my deck. Last summer I was put in charge of getting some quotes to have our deck painted. Which, as you can see, I never did follow through with. But whatever, that's not the point of this here story. One of the dudes who came out to quote us showed up in his adorable turquoise mini-cooper wearing skinny shorts and Beatles boots. In the summer. In Tennessee. Which means it's like 150 in the shade. But look at the way I dress, I'm not one to judge (haha, yes I am). Anyway, dude was a super nice guy from New Zealand. Are there any New Zealanders in the house? If so, I've gotta tell ya, ya'll need to learn the correct pronunciation of the word "deck". Because my deck quoting friend referred to it as our "dick." As in, "You're dick's in bad shape. I think if I stain your dick it will look so much better." Hubs and I could hardly keep a straight face. Because we're 12.

DIY fail item #1: My deck decorating. First of all, lemme just say, we have this nice big deck (heehee) and never use it. Because it's 150 degrees outside in the shade, remember? AND it has a hot tub. Which we've never ever used because it's not 1987 and my husband isn't Tom Seleck. I hate the unsightly thing so this summer I got the genius idea to "hide" it with plants. As you can see, it's working out great. As did hanging those planters on those diagonal boards. And, let's not forget the oil cloth pillows I attempted to sew. All of which frustrated me to the point that I just dropped my tools, snapped a photo and went inside to destroy another DIY dream:
These here Anthro-inspired chairs. Which I am determined to conquer. Although, as you can see, I currently stand defeated. Because after the 56th rouge staple flew out of the staple gun, I thought, "forget this noise, I don't wanna end up getting hurt" (little did I know blood shed would come later). And, just like the deck, I left the mess where it was and did what any normal person would do. I made a dress.

 Aw, don't act like you wouldn't have done the same thing. I've been toying with the idea of turning this fabric into a sort of early 1960's tiki dress for a while. And with my deck and living room covered in DIY disasterness, the only safe place seemed to be my sewing room. I used my two fave patterns, combining the pocketed and gathered skirt of the Project Runway pattern with the bodice of the vintage pattern.

 I am kinda in love with this bodice and the big band of you may know. Because I've made this same bodice like 4000 times. Not only is it slimming but it's also a place to play with color and pattern. Which is why I've used it, oh, here, here, here, here and, um. Here.
 Now, being a pattern from the 1960's it has that close-to-the-neck fit. Which I don't totally love because it's not comfortable. And because of my gorilla neck. The other prob with this pattern is that once complete, there's this extra fabric at the at the neck. As you can see, along with my hairy gorilla neck, above.
 So, as usual, I went to get hub's opinion of the dress. And he was like, "What's with the gap in the back?" He's actually said that every time I've made this dress. And I'm always like, "oh, it's a design element" which is code for "I have no clue!" It was at the point in our convo for me to deliver my design element BS when hubs said, "wait a minute. I have an idea." Now, I have to tell you, my hubs is kinda this amazing idea man. My favorite case in point: the time he and his roommates who never ever cleaned the bathroom of their apartment were moving out of their soon-to-be-condemned place. But they were still expected to clean the joint to get a return on their deposit. Idea Man's suggestion? Buy three cans of white spray paint and paint that bathroom clean. Kid ya not. And it worked. So when he suggested I simply unzip the dress, create a v-neck line and stitch it in place, I thought, wow. This man is like a genius.
Which now brings me to the point in my post when I'm ready to share with you the Attack of the Food Processing Blade. Genius hubs was outta town and I decided to host a lil crafty get together. For which I got the grand idea to make hummus. Yeah. Even though you can buy it at the store for, oh, I dunno, 3 bucks? And I really got into it. I skinned a 30 ounce can of chick peas just for the occasion (yes, you read that correctly. It's actually kinda fun in a bubble-popping kind of way) threw 'em in the food processor with some lemon juice and tahini and, viola! Some seriously good hummus.
The day of the get together, I'm cleaning (which I only do when people are coming it's like an all day event) and I drop that stupid food processing blade on my foot. It didn't even hurt and I didn't think much of it until I noticed my foot felt all warm and sticky. When I looked down, I almost fainted. There. Was. Blood. EVERYWHERE. It looked like an episode of Dexter. If Dexter was a complete idiot that dropped food processing blades on his feet. Now, I'm not a total dope, I did grab a cleanish towel, put my foot in the air and applied pressure. But it just wouldn't stop gushing blood. I convinced myself I was feeling faint decided to hobble all the way upstairs for a Band Aid. Because, in my deliriousness, I just knew that would fix it.
Oh look, an extra large photo of my veiny feet. Hawt.
In true Girl Scout Drop Out fashion, I couldn't find my first aid kit. Oh, who am I kidding, I don't even have a first aid kit. But I do have tampons. Which is what I applied to my foot before forcing my tampon'ed foot into a sock and shoe and zipping over to the walk in clinic. Thankfully, it turns out, I'd hit a vein, not an artery (which would have required surgery, what?!) and was good to go with two little stitches. Doc told me it'd leave a scar to which I replied, "What?! How will I continue my career as a foot model?!" At which point he looked from me to my foot several times before saying, "Really? No. Really?" 

"Um, my husband refers to them as 'troll feet', so what do you think?"


And that's why those doctors get paid the big ole bucks.

HOLY MOLY. This was the world's longest post. If you stuck around the for whole thing, give yourself a pat on the back. You've earned it. 

Until next time, stay away from food processors. They's cray cray.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

DIY: Star Wars Weekends

So right after updating my profile pic on facebook with this here picture, I accused someone of being a "super dork". Yeah. I suppose those that live in glass houses full of Star Wars dresses shouldn't throw stones.
Last week, hubs and I returned from what's become our annual trip to Star Wars Weekends at Hollywood Studios, Disney World. And, like years past, it was a total blast. Even if you're not a Star Wars junkie (on a scale of 1-10, I'd only give us a 6), it's still a great time. There's photo ops with the major stars (I've yet to get one with Chewy or Vader as the line's just a pinch too long for me) and autograph signings with actors from the films. One of my favorite parts are the chats led by some of the actors from the films and The Clone Wars. 

Even if you skipped all that, the parade and the dance off between the Good Guys and the Dark Side are worth the price of admission. Seriously. We wouldn't go every year if it wasn't just the best thing ever. I thought I'd share with you a mishmash of parade photos and photo ops. Sadly, I believe today was the last day until next year. You should really go. And if you do, lemme know. We'll compare goofy outfits!
It turns out if you don't refer to 'em as Sand People but Tusken Raiders, they'll stop doing aerobics with their cane and smile for the camera. Dude, is it just me or do these guys remind anyone else of a visit to the eye doctor? I feel like I should put my eyes up to those metal tubes and read the bottom row of letters...which I did. It said: S T E P A W A Y C R A Z Y.
I took the finger pointing to mean "Hey, you! In the obviously homemade dress! Come see me for a photo op later!" Wow. So angry. Couldn't have squeezed a please in there somewhere?

And then, like every guy I ever went on a first date with, he pretended not to know me. C'mon, it's me! Homemade dress...goofy hat...I screamed, "I wanna have your clone baby!" ...ring a bell?
(Leaning back as far as possible), "Oh yeah. You. Hey someone, anyone, get her off me! Seriously. I just had this suit cleaned and now it's covered in crazy."

Chewy is always the crowd fave. Except at the Denver airport, it seems. Did you hear about this? Apparently Peter Mayhew, the actor who played Chewbacca, was in Denver for Comic Con. At the airport, security confiscated his customized lightsaber cane (he's 7'2", 69 and has a bum knee. Dude needs his cane). It wasn't until he tweeted to his 22,000 followers about his treatment that American Airlines stepped in and got his cane through security. Can you believe that? More here, if you are interested.

Such a shiny mane. I wonder what conditioner he uses.
During the parade, not only do the Star Wars characters come out but so do their Disney Doppelgangers. I'm in love with Goofy Vader's boxers, personally.

Each year I'm so inspired by the others who decide to dress up, especially when they are as cute as this trio. Look at wee C3PO givin' it to Lord Vader. Do it, gurl.
So this Jawa was super excited about my dress. It kept pointing at it and then proceeded to dance. My heart told me to join in but my head told me no. Actually it said, "you can't dance, remember, please don't embarrass yourself more than normal...oh no, you're dancing aren't you!?" Brain face palm.

Okay, remember how I said I liked Goofy's briefs? I think I dig this Gamorrean's better. By the way, General Ackbar, why didn't you tell me this guy was gonna pull an ax on me?!
"I did tell you, it's a trap!"
In the old Hollywood area of Hollywood Studios, they have vintage cars on display. Kinda took my vibe from Mad Men to gangster, dontcha think?

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

What the Art Teacher Wore #66

Monday Funday: I love how in the summer, Monday suddenly become my fave day of the week. It seems to hold the promise of an entire week of doing whatever I want...which on this day meant catching up with friends. dress: vintage, thrifted; belt: Pin Up Girl Clothing; shoes: old, BC Shoes 
Hey there, dudes. Lemme apologize for the delayed What I Wore post (as I know you've been dying to see me wear yet another dress). I blame my lack of posting entirely on having a severe case of Star Wars-itis. Watching Darth Vader dance to Michael Jackson's "Bad" will do that to a girl. It's a slow recovery but I'm taking three doses of The Force a day, so I should be good to go here shortly. 

In other news, I stumbled upon some paintings by Edward Hopper recently and I just kinda fell in love all over again. These paintings say "summer" to a lonely Mid-Western kinda way. I spent a lot of hot summers living in the middle of No Where, Indiana, earning a measly wage detasseling corn and working at an egg factory (where I lasted two weeks). I hated it at the time...but these paintings make me long for it again, just a pinch. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do. 
Gas, 1940. I had gas in 2013 but it didn't look anything like this. One thing that always strikes me with Hopper's work is how clean everything appears. Like the attendant just took to the entire landscape with a leaf blower. I remember loving his work in college for the vintage appeal. My painting professors weren't too keen on his "flat" style of painting. But which one has their work in the MoMA, hmmm?

Jo in Wyoming Painting That's Josephine Hopper, Edward's wife for more than 40 years. An artist in her own right, she influenced his work and brought out his competitive streak. It seems when she would paint something, like two houses behind a dead tree, a similar motif would appear in Edward's work. In college I attempted a painting with the viewpoint inside of a car. Needless to say, mine wasn't nearly as awesome.
Everything Breaks Tuesday: Seriously? It's my summer vacay and it seems everything else decided to take a hiatus too. It started with the washing machine then the mower died and finally my sewing machine just up and stopped at the final stages of this dress. This isn't exactly how I was hoping my summer would start out. dress: vintage, etsy; gianormous flower: moi; sandals: Lucky Brand
Edward and Josephine Hopper in Cape Elizabeth, Maine, 1927. According to this website, this photo was snapped of the couple just three years into their marriage. When they wed, Jo was 41 and had been a successful painter in her own right. At one of her own shows, Jo recommended the work of Edward and his career took off from there. I think I'll have to do some digging to see some of the works of Jo Hopper.
Morning Sun, 1952. Josephine Hopper served as Edward's model. Not only did they live together, but they also worked together in their very small studio space. For that reason, they had a rather explosive relationship that often involved domestic violence. This is why hubs and I treasure our alone time. Otherwise hubs just might end up with a black eye. Again.
Wednesday: I do believe I spent the grand majority of this day putting together a lawn mower with the help of a good friend. I love that it's shiny and red. And that my grass is no longer knee-high. dress: vintage, Buffalo Exchange; belt: vintage, gift from a friend; owl sandals: Anthropologie
Summer Evening, 1947. Dude, you know this painting isn't realistic. I mean, c'mon, where's the bright blue bug zapper and the constant swatting away mosquitos? This looks like one of those serious "look, I'm breaking up with you" convos I heard many a summer night. Sigh.
Tiki Room Thursday: Hubs and I arrived in Orlando on Thursday and went almost immediately to Disney World. Would you believe that of all the times we've been there, we've never tried the legendary Dole Whip? Holy cow, what we've been missing! Hubs likened it to ground-up-Smarties flavored ice cream. I convinced myself it was healthy and indulged twice. dress: old, Forever 21; sandals: old, Target; flower: H&M

Room in New York, 1932. Geez, Rear Window, anyone? I wonder if Hitchcock saw this painting before creating his 1954 classic. The vantage point and feeling of loneliness definitely reminds me of that movie.
Jawa Friday: Oh, don't you worry. There will be plenty of Star Wars photos to come. This here's a sneak peak. dress and hat: made by me, diy here; sandals: Chacos

Second Story Sunlight, 1960. Reading about Edward Hopper, I was surprised that during his career he was often compared to his contemporary Norman Rockwell. Um, no. I mean, I can appreciate the Americana portrayals by Rockwell...but that's all are: portrayals. Idealized illustrations. The difference is that Hopper seems to shine a very bright light (like, literally) on a stark and empty existence. Where, when it comes right down to it, as frightening as it may seem, all you got is you.

Cape Cod Morning, 1950. And who knows if that's what Hopper actually believed or intended? But the beauty of being a viewer of works of art is that you play a vital role in deciding just what a work of art is "saying." And these works by Edward Hopper speak volumes to me. What do they say to you?

Monday, June 3, 2013

In the Art Room: Pinch Pot Pets Take 2

Sometimes giving the kids the choice of every color glaze in the rainbow can be a dangerous thing. But I happen to think this turquoise with white spots pup is just the cutest.
If you are a teacher, then you are currently in one of two places: Summer Vacation Bliss or On the Verge of Summer Vacation Madness. I'm the former but I can totally empathize with all ya'll in the latter. The last week of school followed our school-wide art show which left my art room as cleared out and empty as my brain. But have no fear, all you O.V.S.V.M. folk! The end will come (of the school year, not the end of time. I'm an art teacher not an evangelist) and soon you'll be like me: feet up, taking in the sunshine with a nice tall (well, perhaps a splash of tea along with some other happiness-inducing ingredients) and frantically brainstorming lesson plans and thematic ideas for next year. Ah, the joys of being a teacher. Which sometimes feels like that unwanted gift that keeps on giving. Like a Chia Pet. Or crabs. 

(Did I really just liken my job to an STD? I believe I did.)

Don't get me wrong: if I didn't love what I do, I wouldn't spend so much time plotting and planning. Which brings me to this lesson. I started the planning stages of this project about this time last year. If you've read my recent art project posts (you haven't?! What's wrong with you, you got a life or something? No you don't, go read here and here.) then you know our purpose behind these animal sculptures: to raise money for a local humane society. Each grade level sculpted a dog or cat sculpture (check out my kindergartener's work and my fourth grader's masterpieces) with these being the ones my awesome second graders created.
The problem with projectile whiskers is sometimes they break. I still love this green-eyed spotted kitty just the same.
Because I'm missing school just a pinch (yeah, I do believe there was a little too much happiness in that last cup as well), let me geek out on you and break this lesson down with some good ole bullet points: 
  • On our first day, the kids were given a piece of clay the size of an orange. They twisted this piece in half and created a pinch pot with each piece. 
  • To connect the pots and create a sphere, each kid was given a small piece of newspaper (pages from the phone book work great...why am I still getting those, btw?). This was crumpled up and placed inside the pinch pots to prevent them from flattening. In the past, we've rolled up small spheres of clay and placed those in the newspaper before sealing it inside. When the newspaper burns, those little clay beads create a rattle inside of your piece.
  • After the newspaper was placed inside the two pots, the sphere was complete. To reinforce the seam where the two pots came together, the kids rolled a coil of clay and placed it over the seam. This was flattened and smoothed. I know what you're thinking, "An enclosed piece of clay is going to explode in the kiln!" Dude, relax, I got this. Holes were pierced into the sphere at a later stage.
  • Because my classes are a half and hour long, it was at this point that the kids wrapped their spheres in a wet paper towel and sealed them inside their labeled ziplock bag.
  • On the following day, the kids rolled out and attached four thick and short coils of clay for legs. To prevent the legs from falling off once attached, we bent the end of each leg at the top. This created a larger flat surface for the leg to attach to the bottom of the sphere. Of course, we tooth brushed the bottom of the sphere and the tops of the legs before attaching.
  • The kids were given some ideas on how to create a face for their pet. Then they came up with a billion much better ideas. Which is how is always goes, isn't it? I cannot keep up with their superior imaginations.
Best. Ears. Ever.
  • Now, I gotta tell you two quandaries I found myself in with this here project: One was finding a place to write the student's names. Ultimately most ended up being emblazoned on the tooshie. And the other quandary was that we did have a couple explosions in the kiln. Because all of the pieces were given a "belly button" (a small hole with a skewer stick in the bottom of the piece) I can only imagine that the explosions were caused by the thickness of the clay. The two kids handled it quite well, knowing that they'd be able to create a new piece. Apparently, it's very cool in secondgradeland to be able to tell your buddies "my dog blew up the kiln". 
  • Once the pieces were returned to the kids, we set to glazing. I love Mayco's Stroke and Coat as do the kids. We chatted about the patterns that might appear on dogs and cats, real or imaginary. 
And there you have it! I've still no idea just what we'll be up to this summer...but I've got a couple crazy ideas rolling around. Until next time, have a great Monday!