Friday, February 13, 2015

DIY: A Needle Felted Tribute to Jim Dine

Well, hey there, love birds. Lemme be the first to wish you Happy Valentine's Day! Or, as it should truly be known, Happy-Hallmark-Marketing-Scheme Day, amiright? I mean, if I gotta hear the chic on NPR try to sell me another 50 Shades of Gray teddy bear (seriously, NPR? You can't go from StoryCorps to PornTeddy in a matter of minutes, it ain't right.) or the radio talk show host tell me that "buying her roses will warm her heart and clear your conscious" (like, ew, jerk face) Ima gonna scream. I'm totes over the commercialism of what's otherwise a beautiful thing: love. After all, tis the inspo for this here DIY.
So last Saturday I was puttering around, stitching a couple of dresses, working on a little painting project, completely avoiding housework; you know, the ushe. It was then I suddenly realized that V-Day was rapidly approaching and I needed a new dress for the occasion. I immediately thought of the artist Jim Dine and was inspired to needle felt a dress dedicated to him! So I promptly set about googling Jim Dine's hearts and found this lovely: 
 I loved it straight away mostly cuz it looked so art teacher-y. Splatters, splats and splashes of color? Say no more, Dine. You had me at splatter (wait, that don't sound right.)
And here's my tribute. I was excited to use some new gold tinsel-y stuff I'd picked up at a fibers shop. I used it in place of the black outline seen in Dine's heart.
Now, like I said, I got this idea on a Saturday and didn't actually start until late that night. Since time was limited, I knew I couldn't spend forever on this here project. So just one heart was to go in the center of this lil thrifted number. 
Whenever I start my felted numbers, I always sketch in chalk. It's the perfect thang because you can just wipe it off with the sleeve of your sweater (ahem. You should see my yellow-y sweater sleeves). And, don't forget, you can needle felt on just about any surface. I've worked on wool, jersey knit and whatever this dress is. Sweatshirt? I dunno. It's needle felt-able. 
 I started by placing my needle felting cushion inside the dress and shaping the heart before I commenced stabbing it. If you've no clue how needle felting works, friend, don't you sweat it. I've got you covered. You can watch these super vintage vid clips where I annoyingly explain the process. My apologies in advance. 

See? Like, insanely simple. If I can do it, well, drunk monkeys dancing on rooftops can do it. So you should be safe. 
 After the white background was complete, the layers of colors were added. I stared with the biggest and lightest swathes of color first.
Then layered smaller and brighter colors on top of that. The gold tinsel was a weird thing to needle felt cuz it wasn't as cooperative as wool. 
 And that was pretty much it. Three episodes of Project Runway All-Stars and I was el finito.
And ready to introduce my students to Jim Dine and needle felting! I hinted that I introduced our new heart-themed mural with an artist and that was, of course, Mr. Dine. I created this prezi for the kids that you are welcome to borrow and change to your liking. I'm really digging Dine's drawings of tools and totally using that theme in a drawing unit. Have any of y'all done that? 
When I introduced my fourth graders to needle felting, they really loved seeing my dress and knowing that I'd used the same technique. For this fourth grade project, I had enough needle felting tools, roving and a foam cushion for each student. They really enjoyed this process and proved that they could handle using a super sharp tool with only a little blood and finger poking. 
 So sweet, right? You can read more about the "Our School has Heart" mural here
Until next time, I do hope you and your 50 Shades of Awkward Teddy Bear have a super heart-filled Valentine's Day! xox!
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Wednesday, February 11, 2015

In the Art Room: Our School has Heart! Mural Project, Part 1

Okay. So. I started ANOTHER mural project. I got the idea this weekend when I suddenly realized that Valentine's Day was this Saturday and I needed something to wear (other than last year's Catty-Valentine Dress and Poodle-Love Frock. Cuz there's more than just two days in a week, y'all). So I decided that I'd create an artist-themed Valentine's dress (with an emphasis on hearts. Can you guess who my inspo might be? Virtual high five to the winner! I'll share my dress later this week). And whilst I was working on that, I got this Big Fat Hairy Light Bulb Above My Head that everyone in our school should create a heart for what we are dubbing The Johnson Elementary School has Heart mural! Yippie!

There's only one prob. We're already in the middle of our Village of Kindness mural. 

Now, what you might not know about me is that I like to work on, like, twenty things at once. In fact, at home right now, I've got three dresses in the works, a painting and a felted number. I get an idea, I act on it right away before the excitement fades and the motivation is gone. It drives me crazy, having so many projects everywhere and, yet, it's how I live my life. It's also how I run my art room. I ain't braggin'. I'm just sayin'.

More on that in a pinch. For now, lemme show you what every grade level is up to for our mural!
Mural Measurements: 

So for our mural, I'm using these two huge sheets of foam core that were donated to me. They're about 3' X 6'. I went to the school nurse on Monday cuz I heard she was really good at the math. After a lil clicking away on her calculator, she told me that if each of our 366 students created a work of art that was 3.25" we'd have our boards covered. Great, now, what will each create?
First Grade Painted and Puffy Paint Outlined Hearts:

Now I happen to be the owner of a cache of felt. I dunno where I got it from but I have a ton. Because I want this mural to hang for a while, I didn't wanna use fade-tastic construction paper. So I thought for most of the projects, I'd use up that felt. A lovely helper mama and a sweet unsuspecting art education student were promptly put to work on cutting the squares out.

I do want some consistency with our hearts. So, for first grade, they used chalk to trace a heart template (I know you template-haters are having a heart attach. Get it, HEART attach!? Lawd, I shoulda been a comedian). After tracing, they were instructed to use the warm colors for the heart and the cool for the background. Once finished, they outlined their heart in their choice of puffy paint. This took us all of 25 minutes.
Second Grade Yarn-Bombed Hearts:

Because I didn't want this to interrupt our previously scheduled program, I wanted these to only take us 25 minutes. Most managed with a coupla minutes to spare.
After picking out their felt color and pipe cleaner, they folded their pipe cleaner in half. The heart templates were on the tables for them to lay their pipe cleaner on top of and mold around the shape. They created an X in the middle where the two wires overlapped and then twisted. The cool thing about the pipe cleaner is that the kids didn't really have to tie the string on because of the grippy-ness of the 'cleaner. A wee bit of knot-tying was needed but these kids had recently finished Ojo de Dios so knot tying is no biggie for them.  Once finished, I hot glued them to their felt fabric.
Third grade Stitched Hearts:

Now I do see my third and fourth graders for an hour. We jumped right in. These dudes have used my sewing machines before and a couple of them are in my after school sewing club but most are inexperienced. They were thrilled to learn! I started by having them trace the square in chalk and the heart in the Sharpie color they planned to stitch with. After that, they were to hoop their design before returning to the floor for instruction.
There I showed 'em how to thread their needle and start stitching. These guys totally nailed it. I think third grade must be the right age to really start in with stitchin' stuff.
Our tapestry needles were too small to sew the button so we just glued them on. Later, I'll have to trim these guys to add them to the mural. 
Fourth Grade Needle Felting:

Y'all know I loves me some needle felting. I've always been apprehensive to give it a go with the kids because of the razor sharp needles used. So I started the class by saying the following:

"Today we are going to use a dangerous tool [gasps from the girls] because we are dangerous artists [cheers from the boys]. I'm not kidding. There might be blood [pin-drop silence]."
That being said, we only had one bleeder. Which is pretty good if you ask me. I've taught adults before and there's been more casualties. 
Again, we traced. The kids were told they could either use all cold colors for their heart or all warm. And then reverse that for the outside of their hearts. 
We did bust several needles but the results were pretty spectacular.
Kindergarten Watercolor Resist Hearts:

So my kindergarten friends have been painting all year. We are, like, experts. However, this was our first time to venture into watercolor paint town. So I was a little nervous. We talked a lot about the dif between watercolor and tempera. I emphasized that watercolor is translucent, not opaque. 
After tracing their heart template in black, they added designs in oil pastel before using the warm colors to paint. They turned out lovely and the kids loved using a new medium. 

And there you have it. Yet another mural started. It's so funny cuz when my parent volunteer and student assistant came in yesterday morning and I told 'em the mural news, the convo went down like this:

Helper Mama: Wait a minute. Another mural? [eyeing the houses on the floor].

Me: Uh-huh!

Student Assistant: You mean, before the other mural is finished [exchanging a worried look with the mama]?

Me: Yup!

Crazy has no bounds, y'all. Wish me luck and lemme be the first to wish ya Happy Valentine's Day! 



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Sunday, February 8, 2015

What the Art Teacher(s) Wore #133

Meet Sarah Brooks, ├╝ber colorful art teacher outta Fairfax, Virginia. You know I totes love a pop of color and this art teacher is dominating the Roy G. Biv look, y'all. 

Whuz goin' on, party people?! I present to y'all today, in lieu of my regularly scheduled what this art teacher wore, what a whole buncha other art teachers wore. I decided to do a lil switch-a-roo on Friday as I'd not taken a single solitary wardrobe selfie this week. Ya see, I fell into a lovely lil patch of poison oak and I just didn't think the Red Rashy Look was something y'all would wanna see (unless you're into that sort of thing. And, if that's the case, might I suggest Craig's List. He's got a ton of freaky friends). So I declared Friday, F-Artsy Fashion Day and asked fellow art teachers to send me some snaps of what they wore. This was so fun that I just might have to do this sort of post again (this time without the whole "falling into a patch of poison oak and looking like I'm covered in The Herp from head to toe", ahem.) So without further ado, let's meet some art teachers and check out what they wore, y'all!
 So Fridays are usually casual days in Teacher Town, amiright? So we've got a lotta lovely art teachers in their fave art t-shirts. I do love how Jennifer Gironda spiced hers up with some fab jewelry (that necklace! that Hello Kitty ring! Ahh!) and that pink leopard print sweater. I think I need that in my life. By the way, Jennifer isn't only a snappy dresser, she's also a super active artist who creates several pieces of artwork...a day! You can find her blogging here and here
 Lindsey Ostafy is this super cute and always stylin' art teacher outta Delaware. I know I like Lindsey because she and I have similar tastes -- girl, I have that very same Frida top! We're Twinkies! I dunno if y'all are aware but ForNever21 (ahem) currently has some clothing with artist repros on 'em. Just this week I scooped up a sweet Keith Haring sweatshirt and t-shirt. They also had some Jean-Michel Basquiat. By the way, Lindsey's been on this here blog before, she participated in the Best Dressed Art Teacher Contest. Which made me just realize...I bought that same scissor skirt from ModCloth after seeing Lindsey's on that post. Does this make me a Lindsey-Ostafy-Single-White-Female Stalker?! Sorry, Lindsey! 
If you can find a Pink Floyd Dark Side of the Moon/Art Teacher mash-up shirt then, by golly, you are a near perfect human in my book. And that's just what Suzanne Finn. Not to mention, she's a fellow Hoosier which means that, by Indiana law, I have to like her. We Hoosiers like to stick together. That shirt is simply the best, dontcha think? 
 Don't hate Kelly Moncure because she's beautiful. Hate her because she lives in the land of sunshine while the rest of y'all are up to your eyeballs in snow. This San Diego-ian teaches photography to some lucky high schoolin' kids. I love her sporty cowboy hat, don't you? Kelly is a super sweet gal, I know her students must love her.
 Hey, look, it's Heidi O'Hanley! If you don't know Heidi, she blogs over at Tales of a Traveling Art Teacher. She just wrote this AWESOME post yesterday where she shares the best places to find...wait for it...art teacher clothes! And jewelry! AND a hair accessories! Thank you so much, Heidi! I can't wait do a lil online shopping based on your tips.
 You might not recognize my buddy Jane Shores without one of her handmade art teacherin' skirts! If you recall, I interviewed Jane a couple months ago about her new fave fashion accessory: art teacher skirts! She explained in this post how she got into the whole wild world of stitchin (it's addictive, y'all. Especially that fabric-buying part!). 
You know what's great about having an art teacher mama? She can help you create the best Spirit Day ensemble everrrr. Moheekan Moe and her son stand as proud Trojans. And as they should, that helmet and shield are the totes amazing! 
 Daw, don't you just love Rebecca Dupree's musical number? She said that her school was holding a school-wide music even that day and so she just had to dress the part. Like, yeah. And totes nailed it, if I do say so. I also love the sweet music-infused collages I'm guessing her students creating. So sweet. Thanks, Rebecca!
Oh, snap, Biz Craft, no you didn't! I currently have a Mondrian-inspired dress on one of my mannequins and this here girl beat me to the punch. AND she made her hand painted skirt. Like, did you hear me? That's hand painted? She looks straight offa the runway, y'all. So adorbs, girl!

Again, thank you all for playing along! If you didn't hear about this spectacular What the Art Teacher Wore event and would like to know more about it when the next one pops up, you might wanna follow me on Instragram, Twitter or Facebook (or "FacePlace" as one of my administrators once called it, ha!).

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Thursday, February 5, 2015

In the Art Room: A Village of Kindness, Part I

So y'all might recall me mentioning that we're doing a lil Be Nice campaign at my school. Quite simply, it entails us doing something kind for others. In the art room, we created a Gallery of Gratitude for all who work in our school, we wrote letters to fellow artists praising their hard work, and my fourth graders created a Legacy Mural as a gift both to the school and our principals. And just last week, we began work on our latest creative effort in being nice: our Village of Kindness!
Our super fab cafeteria manager has been saving the morning milk cartons and rinsing them out for us (I told you she was super fab) which is great because the smell of sour milk makes me do that Ima-bout-to-heave wobbly neck chicken dance. I seriously have hundreds of 'em in my room right now all in the process of becoming this awesome. The concept is that each house in our village has a door that opens with a nice message inside. This one reads: "Your cool litraly soooooooooooooo cool." Gotta love third grade.
 I'm always pushing the idea of being your unique self in my art room. It's kinda been my mantra this year what with words like original, creative, non-conformist and unique being our Words of the Week. So this message of "UR the Best YOU!" is one of my faves.
So just how did this project get started? Well, every kid in the school is creating a house for our village. To start, we did a quick review of the warm colors and in our first thirty minutes together got about this much accomplished. I only had a coupla rules: don't forget to clean your paint brush and write your name on the bottom of the house. Other than that, paint away, dudes!
On the second thirty minute art class, I read the book The Big Orange Splot. I LOVE this book and so do the kids. If you've not read it, it's about a dude who paints his house "to look like all of his dreams" and inspires his neighbors to do the same. It's a great example of conformist vs. non-conformist. And it serves to really inspire our second day of house painting.
On that day, the kids are given smaller brushes and cold colors. They were encouraged to add any sort of line designs and details they might want. These kids were also introduced to Rizzi at the start of the school year which was a great tie-in for this portion of the project.
 On our third day, the kids were given a wide variety of media to work with to finish off their house. I got out the "funky monkey" scissors for cutting and creating a door and a roof. Oil pastels, paint and colored pencils were available for the kids to finish off their masterpiece. I found that by giving them a ton of media to pick from, they really got creative.

When writing our messages, I told the kids to write something that they would like to hear from a friend. What kind words would really make your day? It was funny to read their responses. I got one that read, "Like your top, bro" and another that said, "You are the best gamer IN THE WORLD!" Many others said kind things about being an awesome artist or smart student. They were such a pleasure to read after the kids had cleaned up.
Since our focus is on kindness AND because I really enjoy reading aloud (just ask my mom-in-law as my fave thing to do when visiting her is read to her the Dear Abby column), I have been reading The Hundred Dresses while the kids are working. It's a chapter book (so the young kids love it for that reason alone) that's all about a girl who is teased by others for claiming to have, you guessed it, a hundred dresses. Turns out she does have that many only not in the way you might think. It's such a sweet book that all the kids (even the dudes) really enjoy. And it fits in so very well with our chats on kindness. 

ADDED BONUS...Here's something super interesting that I found: when reading the book, the kids don't ask for help or even reminders of what to do. They magically remember! They also magically seem to have more focus on their creation! When I discovered this on my first day reading to them, I was all "why has it taken my 17 years to figure this out?!" 
 I can easily say that each and every kid loved this project. And each and every house is totes presh. Our end goal is to attach our village on a painted backdrop. Usually I share with you projects at their completion but I really wanted you to see our works in progress. Mostly cuz they are just about the cutest thing everrrr.
 My goal is to have our Village of Kindness up and ready by Valentine's Day but that's sneaking up on me rapidly so I'm not holding my breath. I'll be certain to come backattcha with a  Part 2 so you can see the finished results. 
 I mean, c'mon. Is it just me or are these not the happiest lil houses? I'd totes live in this wee one. 
Or perhaps this one! They are all just too happy, bright and colorful for me to pick a fave.
 So until then, I hope y'all have a happy, bright and colorful week!


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