Thursday, April 10, 2014

DIY: A Calligraphy Scarf by Lisa Beynon

Hey, ya'll! When I saw an art teacher buddy post an amazing DIY Calligraphy Scarf on Facebook recently, I asked her if she'd share the details in a blog post. Because, not only is it awesome but it's also awesomely simple as she'll break it down for you. Take it away, Lisa!
I wanted an article of clothing to go with a calligraphy lesson that I teach. I love using text as a texture in paintings,  art journals, drawings, etc. so I thought why not fabric? And I love scarves, so why not a scarf?
  1. The first thing I did was get about a ¾ of a yard of fabric. Any fabric will do. But I recommend testing the fabric with a permanent marker to make sure there is minimal marker bleed.

  2. Lay fabric flat and write desired quote, passage, song lyrics on fabric with a permanent marker. Just remember to try to evenly space the lines of text ( I chose M.J.’s “Thriller”.)

    3. My fabric was square, and it wasn’t going to wrap around my neck how I wanted, so I cut the fabric in half and sewed the two rectangles together lengthwise. Then fold long rectangle in half inside out, and sew up the longest side.
    4. Measure the length around your neck to your desired length.  You can flip it right side out, and sew the edges for a traditional scarf, or make sure the length of the scarf will wrap around your head twice for an infinity scarf. Then tuck in one side of the scarf to the other and sew for continuos circle.

    I ended up chopping off a bit of fabric because it was longer than I like.
    My students got a kick out of it, and just solidified why they love me so much…errr why they think I’m the weirdest!
    Lisa Beynon teaches art to some super lucky high schoolers in Genoa, Illinois. Please let Lisa know how awesome she is in the comments below, I know she'd love to hear from you. And if you're really feeling spunky, get to crackin' on your own Calligraphy Scarf this weekend, email it to me and I'll share it here!

    Thank you, Lisa!

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

In the Art Room: Sewing and Embroidery

No matter what your passion is in life, I bet the seed was planted when you were young. One summer, when I was probably 10i-sh, my grandmother taught me how to embroider. And I've loved creating stuff with fabric and thread since. 
This year, I decided to open up my art room to the folks I work with for a Sewing Group. Some of my 4th grade students caught wind of this and wanted to know if they could join. I kinda put the idea on the back burner as I had no freakin' idea how I'd use sewing machines with the youngins...and I kinda thought the kids would forget about it. But, as you know if you work with children, they never forget anything. When one of them started pricing sewing machines at the local thrift store and another petitioned her friends to enquire about a class, I started to toy with the idea of making it happen. When I accidentally said, "I'll think about it," the kids cheered and asked, "Yay, can we start TODAY?!" 
There is a wonderful enrichment program at my school called Gentry's Educational Foundation founded by Evelyn Hickerson, a teacher. I approached her about teaching a sewing class and she agreed to purchase some sewing machines. Because she's seriously that awesome. This woman is so dedicated to the education of all students that she'll stop at nothing to make it happen. We are so fortunate to have her enriching all of our lives. 
In my after school sewing class, I had almost 20 students (3rd and 4th grade) and two adult helpers. I was a little nervous having that many children sewing on machines at once...and I also felt like the kids should have some basic sewing and embroidery skills first. So I decided to start by having the kids create an embroidered sampler using this book as my guide.
I picked up this book years ago when I wanted to teach sewing in my art classes. I've since had to let go of that notion (30 minutes just seemed impossible to teach sewing to the under 10 set) but was thrilled to give it a go with this group. My after school classes were a lovely 60 minutes in length and that felt like absolute heaven. No rush, plenty of time to explain, chat and sew. 

Interested in giving this a go? Here's what we used:
  • Gingham fabric
  • Patterned fabric
  • Embroidery floss, 24" in length, split into three strands
  • Bees wax. This isn't necessary but it does come in handy. We ran our embroidery floss over the wax to prevent it from tangling.
  • Large eyed, sharp needles
  • Embroidery hoops
  • Graph paper
  • Sewing machine
  • Pins
  • Stuffing

  1. Our first of business was writing out our names. We first did this on graph paper using the guide found in the book. This was then rewritten onto the kids' chosen piece of gingham in pencil.
  2. Next we learned how to split our embroidery floss. I had the kids work with a partner to prevent the floss from tangling. This was then threaded into the needle, doubled over and knotted.
  3. After that, we hooped our fabric. 
  4. We didn't embroider our name first. We chatted about what a sampler was and how this would showcase a sample of embroidery stitches we learned. Our first stitches to learn were the running stitches seen under the name.
  5. Once those were complete, we moved onto cross-stitching our name. Some students sewed buttons onto their sampler while others learned how to create a satin stitched heart.

All that took a couple of sewing classes to complete. Once they were finished, the kids chose a piece of fabric for the back of their pillow. Thankfully I'd just been donated a huge stash of fabric (which included some coveted Scooby Doo fabric). The kids laid their samplers on the fabric, cut it to the same size and pinned it right sides together on the top and sides. We left the bottom open for adding the stuffing.
Now I wasn't at all comfortable with the idea of the kids sewing for the first time without adult supervision. This is where my two super adult sewers came into the picture. They called each child one at a time to a machine and gave them a private sewing lesson. Perhaps in the future I'll be more comfortable leaving the kids less supervised...but until then, I'm all about the one-on-one.

So what were the others doing in the meantime? Well, they set their pillows aside and began creating mini-stuffed animals! In My First Sewing Book, the author gives a ton of animal patterns for the kids to chose from. I simply enlarged them and laid them out for the kids to pick from. Of course, I gave them the option of creating their own stuffies too (see last photo, ya'll. Too cute). With that sampler under their sewing belt, this proved to be the perfect project for them to work independently on while they waited for their turn at the machine.
For a Stuffie, you'd need the following:
  • Two pieces of felt per student
  • Embroidery floss
  • Needle
  • Thread
  • Pins
  • Patterns (or paper for creating their own)
  • Stuffing

  1. After picking their pattern, the kids pinned the pattern and two pieces together. This was then cut out.
  2. After removing the pins, the kids were told they had to use a satin stitch to create a face. Buttons were available for eyes. 
  3. Once that was complete, the two felt pieces were pinned together and stitched almost all the way around with a whip stitch.
  4. Stuffing was added and the stuffie was stitched closed. Most kids were able to create more than one.
When their turn was up at the sewing machine, they stitched those three pinned sides. Stuffing was added to the pillow and they had the option of hand-stitching the pillow closed or using the machine again. I was surprised that not all of the kids picked the machines. I think some of them really enjoyed the control of stitching by hand.
Since completing these stuffies, the kids have started bringing in things they've sewn at home. They've independently created purses, pin cushions and stuffies for their buddies and siblings. Which makes me so super happy.

And excited. I've already started my yearly process of begging for longer art classes next year so I can do this with all my students, not just an after school class. I know how much I loved creating like this when I was a kid...and I want all of my students to have this very same experience.

Do ya'll sew in your art room? Would you mind sharing with me the projects you do? I'd love to have more ideas and share them with my sewing group! Thanks, ya'll!

Sunday, April 6, 2014

What the Art Teahcer Wore: What Some OTHER Art Teachers Wore

If you aren't reading Jena Love's blog, you really should be. She's adorable, energetic and, well, just look at her in her handmade Captain Color ensemble, she's amazing! I met Jena at NAEA and I can tell she's a crazily dressed kindred spirit. Check out her blog and let her know how rad she is!

Hey, ya'll! This week, instead of snapping photos of what I wore (which, by the way, involved me wearing camouflage pants on Wednesday for a supposed Duck Dynasty Day that, well, wasn't. Hard to imagine, right? Even harder to live down. Full story in an upcoming post) I thought I'd share with ya'll some other AMAZING art teachers in their super fun artsy get ups. These photos were shared with me by these teachers for the Best Dressed Art Teacher Contest! 

What's the Best Dressed Art Teacher Contest, you ask? 
Well, here's the details:

Nominate yourself or an art teacher buddy!

Simply send an email to me at with a photo of your best artsy look. High resolution photos preferred, please.

 Please include a short bio about the art teacher and what inspired the look.

Photos and bio will be shared on this blog on April 30th.

Open voting on this blog will end on May 5th and the winner will be announced May 6th!

The winner will receive a magical prize along with an interview on this blog.

So far, these awesome art teachers (and a handful of others!) have sent me some photos...but I know that there are many more of you Crazy Art Teachers out there. Why not share your special bit of crazy with the world (or the 20 or so folks that read this blog -- hi, mom!). It has made opening up my email hilariously fun, ya'll! So, c'mon, what are you waiting for?! 

Bob Ross, er, Don Masse (of Shine Bright Zamorano fame) did! I've secretly been lifting ideas from Don's blog for ages...and was totally jealous to hear that he gave a tour of his school and such at NAEA! I think he makes a pretty great Bob, don't you think? Just wait till I share with you his other get up! 'Til then, check out Don's blog, he's an incredible art educator and a super nice dude.
Look, it's Phyl (There's a Dragon in my Art Room, ya'll. Check it)! Okay, so you know all those t-shirts you get at each and every conference? Well, Phyl's been hoarding them for ages (a girl after my own heart, truly!) and finally decided to appliqué them all together on a dress! She wore this one day at the conference and got so many compliments. 
Phyl goes into all the details of how she created this dress-terpiece in this blog post. It's funny, I have a mountain of teacher t-shirts that I've been wondering what to do with...and now I know! 
Kids, meet Lisa Beynon who teaches art to high schoolers in rural Illinois. She created that magical scarf she is wearing (a click on the photo should bring it up a little larger for you to see) with calligraphy writing as she's teaching a unit on, wait for it, calligraphy! I love this scarf so much that I've asked Lisa the details of this super cute DIY which she'll do later this week. Thank ya, Lisa! 

Alrighty, friends! There you have it, some Crazy Art Teachers doing what we do best -- having fun and teaching creatively. Love to see what you wear in your art room! Until then, go put some clothes on and teach art!

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

What I Wore #94 and Adventures in San Diego!

Coronado Beach at the Del Coronado Hotel in Sunny California: Wish I could say I stayed at this lovely place but at close to $500 a night, that's just a wee bit outta my teacher budget. The most I could manage was a $6 single scoop of ice cream whilst soaking up the sun on the beach. dress: vintage; sunglasses: Target; sunflower sweater: thrifted DIY, details heresunflower tights: amazon
 Ya'll, I'm not gonna lie. It was super hard coming back to home and school after several amazing days in sunny San Diego. In fact, I can hardly remember what life was like before San Diego. It's like all those sun rays, amazing sessions and fun experiences meeting old-new friends zapped my brain. But in this post, Ima gonna try! And I thought I'd share with you just a handful of my favorite moments at NAEA.
 The Beginning of a Crazy Week Monday: There was a lot that went down last week and I was really worried I'd not be able to manage it all. I kinda did...but just barely. I thought my outfit should reflect my crazy week ahead. sweater: old, Anthro; dress: vintage, Buffalo Exchange; tights: Target; necklace: The Paper Source; hair clip: made by me; shoes: Dolls by Nina
 Field Trippin' Tuesday: Do art field trips stress you out as much as they do me?! I usually have nightmares that the kids are going to morph into an unruly mob that storms the museum and eats the artwork. Thankfully, that didn't happen this time and we had an awesome time exploring The Frist Center for Visual Arts. dress: Anthro, found at Buffalo Exchange; blouse: gift; boots and belt: Anthro; necklace: DIY by me
Sharpen Your Pencils Wednesday: After buying this dress, I coulda kicked myself as I think I coulda totally felted it! I mean, I did something similar here...but sometimes it's nice just to splurge. And, being polyester, I don't have to worry about ironing the thang! sweater and shoes: thrifted; dress:; tights: Target
 School Carnival Thursday: Because I'm a glutton for punishment AND whipped cream, I volunteered to pull a double shift in the pie-in-your-face booth at our school carnival. Now, you're SUPPOSED to sit behind some plastic curtain and poke your head through, but where's the fun in that?! So I donned my Disney rain poncho, my shower cap and googles and let the kids fire away. 
 And they got me pretty good! Now you'd think whipped cream would be tasty but it starts to smell like spoiled milk the minute it hits skin. Nastiness!
 Off to Sunny San Diego Friday!: I was so lucky to travel and room with two of the most fun art teachers I know (hey Rebecca and Allison!). We had such a great time together! dress: Modcloth; tights: gift; boots: Lucky Brand
 Man. I seriously could go conferencin for a livin if it looked like this. San Diego, I loves you!
Me and my super fun roomies who are both incredible art teachers in Nashville. They teach at the same school and have so much fun that I wish I taught with them!
Super Saturday: Of course, I was totally starstruck for a good portion of the trip. I mean, look who I'm surrounded by! My fave bloggers and pinners! Starting from the left, there's Phyl from There's a Dragon in my Art Room, Patty from Deep Space Sparkle, Rina of K6Art, and Donna Staten, the Pinterest Queen! Each of these ladies was so delightful, meeting them totally made my trip.
 I was so happy to sit and chat with Phyl. We share A LOT of the same views on teaching so it's like talking to myself. Which I do anyway but this was way better because no one stopped and stared.
Seriously Awesome Sunday: I started my day presenting on a carousel concerning art advocacy on the elementary art level. I was so happy to be carrousellin' with (left to right) Nancy Walkup, SchoolArts editor, art teacher/tech-guru extraordinary Tricia Fuglestad and STEM/STEAM advocate, Christine Besack.

 One of my favorite parts of the day was the Blogger Meet and Greet hosted by The Art of Education.  These are folks that I feel such a virtual connection it was awesome to meet them in person. Not to mention meeting all the amazing art teachers who dropped by to say hello! I feel like I'm coming home with a buncha friends in my suitcase. In the back, from left to right is Ian Sands (Art of Apex High School), Jessica Balsley (founder of AOE), Donna Staten - pinterest queen!, Ted Edinger (Mr. E),  and Amy Zschaber (Artful Artsy Amy). In the front row from left to right is Nic Hahn of Mini Matisse, Rina, Phyl and Tracy (Don't Drink the Paint Water).
 Daw, look how super cute and retro Nic Hahn looks! I have a feeling I could sit and chat with this girl all day (I mean, look at those earrings!). Sadly we didn't have much of a chance -- next time!
 Isn't Amy Z so super cute?! She has so bright and happy, I am certain her students adore her and her energy.
Flowers from Old Town: Coming home was so hard...but I missed the hubs and the cat. Oh! And my students. I think it just might take me several days to really digest all that I learned...but when I do, I'll be certain to share it with you. Until then!

In the Art Room: A Guest Post While I'm Away!

Hey guys! Just back from the NAEA conference in San Diego...and attempting to recover from that awesome experience! I'll be back with you soon with plenty of photos and stories from this past weekend but until then, please enjoy this post written by fellow art teacher buddy Faigie!

I am so thrilled to be filling in for Cassie while she has a great time in San Diego. 
I like to bill myself as the art teacher with no art background.
I do have a Masters in Early Childhood Education and have always been extremely involved in the progressive art part of early ed, and have even given workshops to teach teachers how to incorporate good art into their classrooms.
It was only this year however,  that I became a bona fide art teacher, teaching in a new private school that only goes up to first grade so far.
Even though I have a passion for kids and their art, I've always  particularly loved collage. I really see how with a little bit of direction and some suggestive materials collage brings out the best of children's creativity.
This year I only have the first grade and Kindergarten and usually try to do different activities with them.
For this activity however, I decided to give both of them collage. For the first grade  I added a bit of a twist.
I cut out some basic shapes using the large shaped hole punchers to get nice round circles. I also decided to add some hexagons for interest. 

When the children came in I sat them down and held up each shape individually. We discussed what each of those shapes made them think of.
I wanted them to go to the table thinking and to  create "something",  not just a design.
It's obvious from their work that they really did try to use their pieces as part of a larger picture.
I also added their own descriptions of their pictures to their artwork which I find really adds dimension.

Some of course made one larger picture while others made a few smaller objects on their papers.
Then came the first graders.
When they came in I went through the same discussion that I had had with the Kindergarteners but, I added one thing.
I had found a bunch of patterned papers that I had with my art stuff and I told them that they had to pick out a piece of a pattern from one of the papers and incorporate it into their collages.

I found that many of the children got their ideas from their pieces they cut out and built on their artwork from there (which was the idea).
The one below was a squirrel trying to get an acorn from a tree.

 In this one, the little girl wrote her own description of what was going on in her picture. 

One of the things I love so much about collage is that there is so much variety that can be added to each collage activity that only allows for more and more creativity. There are also many levels of sophistication in many of them and I know this can be done with all ages.
And now for my disclaimer:
I can never compete with Cassie's wardrobe  and I don't intend to.
HOWEVER, I didn't think it would be nice to finish off a post on her blog without showing you a picture of what THIS art teacher wore (or wears).
So here is my picture below of what I wear (or change into) in EVERY art class.

Faigie Kobre is a new  art teacher in a fledgling private school . She also gives art classes in her home. She runs a blog called EduArt 4 Kids teaching parents and teachers how to give their kids  great art that will help them think. She believes that everyone  can and should do art. She has a FREE report that you can get  now called "The REAL reason most people can't draw a straight line, plus 5 tips to make sure your child will". Even if you are a real artist, a distinction that she does not claim to have, you will find it interesting and may even help you help the parents of your students.