Saturday, April 27, 2013

What the Art Teacher Wore #64

She's a Handful Monday: My students are portraying themselves as royalty in their latest self-portrait adventure. When I asked why one "king" appeared to be yelling (complete with angry eyebrows and wide open  mouth), I was informed that "the king is upset because the queen is a real handful." Trying my best to hide my laughter, I had to ask, "A handful of what...?" After some thought I was told "pain". These kids keep me rolling. top: gift from a friend; scarf: Orla Kiely; skirt: vintage, etsy; tights: dunno; shoes: DIY, here; mini beret: DIY; belt: Anthro
Bonjour, ya'll! I hope this week has been a lovely one. It's been pretty busy here in Cassie-land what with art-show-preparations and feeble attempts at art-room-tidying. But that's okay. I do believe I could have handled just about anything this week threw my way knowing that this Sunday I'm heading to...
This and more amazing vintage posters here.
What?! I know, I can't hardly believe it myself. When hubs recently told me we'd be traveling to Germany for a wedding, I asked if we could please include a short trip to Paris. If you've been following this blog for a bit (for which I thank ya), then you know that I began this school year with an introduction to Paris, complete with art room decor and Parisian-themed DIY dresses. I had no idea that the opportunity to travel there would present itself. I'm so excited!
Grannie Tuesday: One of my first grade students told me I was looking "not like Mrs. Stephens" on this particular day. When I asked her what she meant I was told, "You look like a grannie. It's your sweater. It's a sweater for grannies." Thank you but I prefer to call my style Grannie-Chic. sweater: vintage, thrifted; skirt: vintage, etsy; top: gift from my moms-in-law; fishnets: Target; shoes: Softt; headband: Anthro
Image here.
Which is all to explain my Parisian-themed looks for this week. It was fun digging these outfits out of my closet because it reminded me of the very beginning of the school year. The kids were thrilled to see them too and greeted me with many "Bonjour"s...and a couple of "Hola"s. So it looks like we've got some reviewing to do.
Special Blood Vessels Wednesday: One of my kindergarten students informed me that the reason he's so good at art is because he has "special blood vessels that pop!" when he comes to art class. I'm thinkin' this might be gas. Regardless, I thought it was adorable. sweater: thrifted; dress: DIY by me; tights: Target; shoes: vintage, thrifted
Students of mine gave me these sweet earrings at Christmas. Perfect.
Image here.
The funny thing is, I never had a super strong desire to travel to France until we began our study this school year. And after seeing those pictures of Jes all over Paris, the desire to travel there hit me like a stale baguette.
Fancy Dress Thursday: A couple of days ago, a group of my third grade girls informed me that Thursday was Fancy Dress Day. One girl said, "so don't forget to dress fancy, okay?!" At which point a third grade boy said, "why would you tell her that, she dresses fancy [pause to look at my silly outfit of the day] and weird everyday." Really? You had to throw that "weird" in there? sweater: thrifted; belt: Pin Up Girl Clothing; dress: Bernie Dexter; fishnets: Target; shoes and mini beret: DIY
A couple of weeks ago, one of my sweet students drew this picture for me...before she even knew of my plans. I'm totally diggin' those ballet flats!

A high school buddy of mine sent me this adorable brooch for my birthday and I just love it! And, speaking of buddies, on Thursday evening, I blew off some much needed steam with a great couple of girlfriends just shopping, trying on makeup and shoes and eating entirely too much.
Image here.
Oh! And speaking of Jes, since his last update, he's been to England and Iceland! I will certainly share those amazing photos with you soon. He's such a get-about.
And I'm Outta Here Friday: It wasn't until 6:30 pm when I was finally finished with lesson plans and room-tidying that I realized I hadn't snapped a picture for the day. This one goes down as one of the worst. And that stuff in the background? Hundreds of pieces of artwork for our upcoming art show, yay! smock: vintage, etsy; skirt and tights: Target
Image here.
So I'll be taking a wee blogging break as I'm out and about. But I'll be certain to share my adventures once I've returned and recovered from jet lag. Until then, au revoir!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

In the Art Room: Tree Weaving with Third Grade

Every year I do a weaving project with my students, kindergarten to fourth grade. And when asked at the end of the year what their fave art project in the universe is, weaving always ties first place with clay. 
And who can blame them? Digging ones hands deep into clay or entangled in a bundle of yarn is just about the best feeling ever, says the art teacher. However, I've grown a little tired of the usual weaving project my third grade students create. So when I saw these amazing tree weavings on pinterest, I was inspired to have my students create one of their own.

Stunning, right? And if you know Russian (at least that's what I think it is) then you'll totally understand the directions. I'd click the "translate" button but I guess you gotta know the Russian word for that to make it happen. All kidding aside, the website does an excellent job of demonstrating the process. For headache-free purposes, I decided to forgo the bent twig option and have the students craft their loom from a Chinet plate.
This weaving lesson was also apart of our study of the United Kingdom. We studied many landscape photographs and paintings of the countryside of such places as Northern Ireland and Scotland. Our first day was spent painting a sky on our plate. If you recall, these kids have plenty of experience with sky painting as they are the ones who created these German Gnome Landscapes. The following art class, we chatted about how to create a fore-, middle- and background in our landscapes.
 Students were encouraged to mix three different values of green to create a sense of depth. From there, they were given the option to enhance their landscape with what they'd imagine a countryside in the United Kingdom to look like. As you can see, we were feeling mighty sheepish.
Once our landscapes were complete, we were ready to begin the process of creating and warping our loom.
 By placing a Tree Weaving Template over their plate, students could draw the correct number of notches on the top (10) and the bottom (2). These notches were cut to the inner edge of the plate.
With notches cut, the students met me on the floor with their plates and about a yard and 1/2 of pre-cut yarn. Our first step was to wedge the yarn into the bottom left hand notch as seen above.
With the long end of the yarn, we put the yarn into the far left top notch, out the notch beside it, into the bottom left, out the bottom right and back up to the top. This process was repeated until all top notches were filled in. We ended by going in the bottom left notch, coming out the right. At this point, we were ready to create our tree trunk.
Which is super easy. With the end of the yarn, begin wrapping it around the yarn at the bottom, tugging gently as you go. If you run out of yarn, simply double knot a new piece to the old. Once your trunk is tall enough, tie it off to a tree branch.
Some bare trees ready for weaving.
To begin, we double knot tied our chosen color to one of the tree branches on the end. From there, we began the process of weaving over and under. One thing the students struggled with was weaving loose enough. You see, they wanted to pull tightly which caused the weaving to slide down the branches and pull the warping threads inward. However, once they got the hang of it, it was smooth sailing.
 When we first began this lesson, we chatted about wool and where it came from. I passed around some natural wool roving, some cream colored some brown. We chatted about how different colors of wool come from different color sheep. I guess that inspired the sheep in this landscape.
New colors were added with a double knot tie. Weavings were ended with a double knot tie off as well.
So that we could hang these for our upcoming art show, students tied a piece of yarn to the backside of the plates.
And that's it. Honestly, the warping/weaving portion took no time at all. And I foresee so many variations of this project in the future: a woven peacock, a turkey...okay, that's all I've come up with. But I'm sure to think of some more (your input would be greatly appreciated and promptly stolen as an idea of my own!). 

I do hope my explanations helped and that you're encouraged to try this lesson with your students. If you're still not gettin' it, just translate it into Russian and it'll all become crystal clear. And if you'd like some more weaving projects, you can check here. Chat with you soon!

Monday, April 22, 2013

DIY: Scarf, Meet Cardigan

Confession: There is now not one single solitary sweater in my closet that has not been DIY'ed by me. Yes, seriously. Between the felting and the scarf-izing, I'm all about the Leave No Sweater Behind. I'd say I have a prob but that's just statin' the obvious.
Howevers, if we're gonna point fingers, this is all Anthropologie's fault. 

Case in point: their version of a Scarf-igan now on the clearance rack for the low low price of $49 (originally $98, whah?!). I'm sorry, but Anthro, Chico's called. They want their sweater back. Love the concept, not the execution. So I decided to take matters into my own hands and make a version of my own.
I dug around in my closet and found this rarely worn, thrifted Target sweater. In my scarf stash, I had a more difficult time deciding which to choose. While many of them looked like they'd work, I hated the idea of hacking into (and possibly ruining) a beautiful vintage scarf. I settled on one that was slightly hole-y and stained. I figured I couldn't possibly do any more damage to it.

A part of the scarf I wanted to incorporate was the border. So after cutting the scarf in half, I laid it out on the sweater and tried to pretend I knew what I was doing.
After pinning the edge of the scarf next to the buttons and bottom edge, I cut the scarf with a 1/2" edge at the side seam of the sweater. Then I proceeded to stick more pins in my sweater than a voodoo doll.
Then I cut the scarf 1/2" beyond the shoulder seam of the sweater. If you'll scroll back up to that Anthro sweater and look closely, you'll notice two things: where the bottom of the scarf meets the ribbed bottom of the sweater, it is not sewn and their scarf does not meet the shoulder seam. 

Lemme address the first thing: that not-sewn-down-bottom thing. This actually makes sense as it gives the scarf some room to move. You see, the sweater, being a knit, it going to stretch more than a scarf that's made of a woven material. So when I was sewing, I did the same thing. I began by stitching the edge next to the buttons first, sewed the side sweater seam second (say that 10 times fast), did the armhole and the shoulder seam. And left the bottom open.

Now let's pause for a moment and chat about that second thing: that weird scarf-not-meeting-the-shoulder-seam business. I mean, that sweater's $49 on sale. Make the scarf fit the sweater. It ain't that hard.
Says the person who did this. Like, ewww! What happened?! Okay, lemme back up a little. Cuz maybe there is something to that gathering biz-natch. Even though I allowed myself 1/2" surplus of scarf-age, it seems I needed more as it shrunk up as I was stitching. Can you tell I'm Southern? "Shrunk up" is most definitely in the Southern Webster's Dictionary. Check it.
My solution? Add some trim and call it a day. I just happened to have the most perfect vintage flowery bits that covered my boo-boo. And, I gotta tell ya, I actually love it more with the trim.

Outfit details: While I didn't buy the Anthro skirt, everything else I'm wearing is from there! skirt: Anthro, gift from a friend; shoes: Anthro, $9, what?! Das right. Shoppin' Anthro like a boss.
Now, if you recall, this isn't my first time to the Just Scarfin' Around dance. Oh no. Check out my first scarfigan, my beautiful blarf (that's scarf into blouse) and this here skankie (if you guessed skirt made of hankies then you're like a genius). 

By the way, you mighta noticed I took a break from my weekly What I Wore. Last week was a rough one so I thought I'd just put it behind me. I knew you'd understand. Chat with you soon!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

In the Art Room: Pinch Pot Pets

Every time I go into the kiln room and see these little guys staring at me from the shelves, I feel like singing: I always feel like...Somebody's watching me. And I have no privacy, Whooooa, oh-oh (go get you some Rockwell here and be prepared to get your paranoid on).
Greetings from the land of Pinch Pot Pets! Last week my younger students completed glazing their clay animals (my older students are still painstakingly working on every minute detail of theirs) and I'm excited about the results. Our theme for this year's clay projects were cats and dogs as our students will be "selling" their work back to their parents for a donation to the local humane society. We're do-gooders like that. The kids love clay and really enjoyed this project. But I'm rambling. Check out this cuteness:
Aw! This looks like a certain orange cat that lives in my house! I wonder if this one plants herself on the table at dinnertime as well.
"Hmmm? Did someone say snack?!" I love the added detail of the collar and hair bow by this first grade student.
So just how did my wee ones complete these clay projects in half an hour art classes, you ask? Well, it wasn't easy. But I've found that breaking the clay construction up into two days helps. And having several parent volunteers on hand. Mostly to keep me in line.

In preparation, here's what's on each table:
  • a clay mat for each child, purchased from The Clay Lady
  • 2 cups of water and 2 toothbrushes
  • 4 skewer sticks
  • 1 piece of clay the size of a small orange per student
Other preparation included:
  • One labeled ziplock bag per student
  • a damp paper towel per student
 For the demonstration, I have the students gather around a table and I show them the steps to creating a pinch pot. Here's what I tell 'em:
  • Roll your clay into a sphere and place it into the palm of your hand.
  • Using your other hand, put your thumb on the top of the sphere and wrap your fingers around the back.
  • Sink your thumb so deep into the clay that it looks like your thumb is wearing a clay afro. But don't go too deep and have your thumb pop out the other end because then you'll end up with a donut. And nobody likes clay donuts.
  • That part they can do no problem. Thumb afros, they got that. It's the pinching-into-a-pot part that some struggle with. I ask them to imagine they are holding a cookie and show me what that would look like. They all hold up their fingers about 1/2" apart. I tell them that their clay should have that same thickness. And then we eat the imaginary cookie with a loud "crunch!" and "mmm!" before proceeding.

  • After showing them a couple of non-examples of pots that are too thick or thin, I show them what a correctly pinched pot should look like. 
  • At this point, the demo is over. I show the kids how to wrap their pot gently in a damp paper towel and place it carefully into the ziplock bag. They are not to seal the bag closed as trapped air inside will dry out the clay. Instead we simply tuck the bag underneath the pot. Like this, their project will stay damp for up to a week. But it might begin to smell a bit if kept longer.
  • The following art class, I tell the kids that they may either create a dog or a cat. I introduce them to the idea that you can make anything out of clay with three things: a sphere, a slab and/or a coil. To illustrate that, I begin by using spheres for the eyes. 
  • Note: all pieces of clay must be attached by using the toothbrush and cup of water. I tell the kids, if you don't brush your teeth, your teeth fall out. If you don't brush your clay, your parts will fall off. It kinda works.
  • I demonstrate using the stick to add the pupils and eyelashes.
  • A sphere pinched into a triangle is used for the nose.
  • Coils for the mouth and skewer-drawn whiskers.
  • I tell the kids that the parts of a face for a dog and cat are about the same. It's the ears that make the difference. Using a slab, or flattened piece of clay, the kids can create dog ears. Cat ears can be created by cutting the slab into a triangle shape.
  • Some finished theirs off with a coil for a tail. 
  • And that concludes the second day of Pinch Pot Pets! As the students finish, the volunteers and I wrote their names and teacher codes on the inside of the pot. Then I set them out over Spring Break to dry completely.
After Spring Break and many firings, their bisque-fired clay animals were ready for glaze. I like to use Mayco's Stroke and Coat. I gave the kids every color in the rainbow (which many saw as an opportunity to go hog wild) and told them my two glazing rules: don't glaze the bottom as the glaze will cause the project to stick to the kiln shelf; don't layer 15 different colors of glaze on top of each other. Because it will look like a rainbow exploded in a really bad way. However, if you want color, do it with patterns.
And suddenly I feel like I'm in San Francisco all over again. Super psychedelic, dude.
These two crack me up. The Eye-Popper-Outter and the Cheshire Cat.

Stripes and spots were a pretty big hit.

And there you have it! Pinch Pot Pets. If you'd like to see what my students created last year out of clay, you can visit here. Be on the look out for more clay posts within the next couple weeks as the kiln just keeps spittin' out these awesome little masterpieces. Until then, enjoy the rest of your week!