Wednesday, May 29, 2013

DIY: Star Wars Meets Mad Men

So every May we go to this thing called Star Wars Weekends at Disney World. Which is this totally amazing experience (for the non-diehards and diehards alike) that involves a dance off between the Star Wars characters, a parade and talks by some of the actors and creators. Oh! And these insanely long (but worth the wait) lines where you can get your photo snapped smooching Chewbacca or high-fiving Darth Vader (kidding, dude does not high five).

 Last year I got into the spirit with this dress created from my childhood Star Wars sheets. And this year, I came up with the Star Wars Meets Mad Men ensemble you see here. I like to think Don and Darth would be equally impressed...'though neither would show it. Well, Darth might do some heavy breathing...but that's just to be expected.
You gotta check out this recreated Mad Men opening staring your fave bad guy. It was created by some genius of a guy named Dann Matthews. You best check it here.
But this dress wasn't my original plan. Oh no. I had sketches of a totally different design. But when I went to the fabric store, this navy print used the force and suddenly my plans changed. 

The Star Wars and crosshatch fabric can be found at Joann's. And of course I used my trusty Project Runway Simplicity pattern...that I've used here, here, here and geez, here.

Not really sure if I was sold on the fabric, I walked around the store carrying the bolt just to see if another fabric would speak to me (I know that sounds cheesy but if you are a fabric person, you know what I'm talking about). And that's when I saw that amazing retro-y crosshatch fabric. Immediately I got it in my head that I could make a vintage style Star Wars business suit of sorts. Which is when I had my Mad Men epiphany.
Two things I won't be wearing in the Florida heat: my crinoline and that dotted scarf.
And so I set to sewing. Which, after sewing varying versions of this dress five times now, wasn't so terribly bad. Usually I have some seam ripping experience of epic proportions but not this time. Aside from my sewing machine having a melt down at the last stitch, all went creepily well. Don't worry, I won't confuse this for skill. Just beginners-ish luck.
I'm pretty sure this would be the look ole Don would be giving me in my get up. Look, don't hate, Don Draper. Appreciate.
It was in the middle of my smooth sewing that I decided I needed a fedora. After all, one can't claim to be making a Mad Men dress and not have this hat. So off to Target I went where I found one in the quasi hipster section.
Doncha love this fabric? I'm scored it just the other day at the thrift store. I'm thinking it would be perfect for a fall shirt dress. With the hat, of course.
Okay, so I'm not really a fedora person. I like the retro appeal of the hat...but for me it's one of those current fads that falls into the same category as dudes wearing skinny shorts (sorry if I just insulted your boyfriend. But he really needs to stop). It just kinda makes me shutter. 

But, what's the saying, "When in Mad Men, do as the Mad Men do"? So a fedora for me it was.
Making this hat was like a 10 minute affair. I simply tore off the black band that was glued onto the hat. Then I measured the band and created a match with my Star Wars fabric.
I liked the detail of the fabric tuck (there has got to be a better word for that). I secured my tuckage with a couple of straight stitches.
Because I'm thinking of making more bands for my fedora, I didn't glue my Star Wars fabric into place. I simply slid it over the hat.
"So, like, Betty, I was using the force yesterday in an attempt to get hubs to cut the grass."

"Oh, yeah? How'd that work for you?"

"Erm, it didn't. Any suggestions?"

"Sorry. Looks like the farts, not the force, are strong with this one."

What?! Whatever, Betty Draper, you don't know me!
I get no respect. Not even on my own stinkin' blog.

And there you have it, my Star Wars Meets Mad Men dress for Star Wars Weekends! We leave bright and early tomorrow morning (right after I cut the grass, humph) and I'm entirely too excited. I'll be certain to keep you posted. Until then, may the farts be downwind of you!

Monday, May 27, 2013

What the Art Teacher Wore #65: School's Out!

Field Day Monday: Hence the ugly but functional footwear. The kids had an awesome time running off their final-days-of-school steam. Meanwhile the teachers, armed with squirt bottles, managed to soak anyone within their squirting range. Being unarmed, I got drenched. dress: vintage, altered by me in this Vintage 911 post; belt: Pin Up Girl Clothing; shoes: Crocs

Important Correction: I mistakenly labeled a couple of photos on this post as Lucienne Day. They are in fact photos of the lovely Hannah Asprey! Doesn't she look just like Lucienne? You can see more of Hannah's photos from 2011 of the Robin and Lucienne Day Exhibition here. Thank you, Hannah, for your kind correction!

What you're lookin' at here is someone who doesn't have to go to work for the next two months. Das right, it's my summer vacation! I'm still trying to wrap my brain around it as it seems this break just sneaked up on me. One minute I'm frantically preparing things for the art show and the next, BAM!, it's all over. Not that I'm complaining. I'm ready for some breakage.

 I dunno if you've noticed but I've not shared a real What I Wore post for the last couple of weeks. In the midst of all the end-of-the-school-year craziness, I've not had the time to snap photos or even research artists. When I discovered the fabric designer Lucienne Day I just knew I had to share her work with you. I am in love.

Until next time, I hope you have a fantastic Memorial Day (all of my US friends) and a lovely week. I'll be back soon with another neglected blog series: my DIY! Later.

Textile designer Désirée Lucienne Day with her furniture designer husband Robin Ray. So, am I the last person on the planet to discover the work of this amazing fabric designer? Lucienne Day, who lived a long life from 1917 to 2010, brought bright and optimistic abstract patterns to a sad and broken post-war England. Her fabric was used mostly for the home, particularly her husbands furniture creations. Image from here.
 Lucienne Day was inspired by such artists as...can you guess? Miro, definitely. Maybe some Kandinsky? A pinch of Picasso? When asked why she didn't become a painter, she said she was "very interested in modern painting although I didn’t want to be a painter. I put my inspiration from painting into my textiles, partly, because I suppose I was very practical. I still am. I wanted the work I was doing to be seen by people and be used by people. They had been starved of interesting things for their homes in the war years, either textiles or furniture." Images from here and here.

Final Countdown Tuesday: It's so weird at the end of the school year. The kids are beyond ready to be out for the summer. Because my art room was still cleared out for the art show, I just set up art centers around the room for the kids to dabble in. Origami and free draw with my collection of How to Draw books is always a hit. dress and necklaces: thrifted; jacket: Modcloth, old; shoes: Frye, TJMaxx, old
Lucienne Day's stunt double Hannah Asprey of Asprey Vintage Design. Image found here.

 When I grow up and buy a vintage airstream trailer, I shall have the furnishings upholstered in this here fab fabric.
See Ya in the Fall! Wednesday: Saying goodbye to the kids this school year seemed especially hard. I'm gonna miss 'em!  sweater: Betsy Johnson, Buffalo Exchange; dress: Bernie Dexter, ebay; shoes: Target, last summer

Lucienne's fabric, her husband's furniture. These two were like the British answer to Charles and Ray Eames. Love the chair, I'll take two.
Hannah at the 2011 Robin and Lucienne Day exhibition. After doing a little digging, I found that getting your hands on this fabric is pretty tough. There's a website out of the UK that has reproductions of her fabric...for 75 euro a meter. A quick search of etsy found similarly high prices and slim selection. I wish some innovative fabric design team would reproduce an affordable cotton of her work.

Favorite Dress Thursday: If I'm gonna be in a powerpoint-induced too-many-meetings coma, I might as well do it in my new favorite summer dress. That's right, the kids got out on Wednesday but we had to finish off the week with professional development. Which was more like arrested development with our fried brains. sweater: Anthro; dress: vintage, Buffalo Exchange (where I snagged it for a mere 11 smacks!); brooch: vintage, St. Louis; shoes: BC Footwear 

 So Lucienne and her husband Robin were like this magical design couple. In the 1950's their home was considered the height of sophistication. And look, after a day of working together, they're still smiling! If this were a picture of my husband and I after a day's work, the captions would say something like, "I'm going to use this fabric to smother you in your sleep." "Oh, yeah? Well, I've already spiked your coffee with rat poison. Love ya!" Image here.

School's Out for the Summer! Friday: Which makes me feel like dancin'. Even though my dancin' skillz are embarrassing. dress: vintage, Wasteland; shoes: Frye

When not on the road, my airstream trailer will be parked outside of my atomic ranch which you can see a sneak peak of in the above photo. Image here.
 Oh, Lucienne. I'm off in search of your textile terrificness. Image here.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

In the Art Room: The Art Show Part 2

A wall of third grade masterpieces. It makes me so happy to imagine this work now hanging on refrigerators in the artists home.
Well, we've sent those kids packing to embark on their summer adventures. It still seems surreal to me that the end of another school year is here. And it was kinda a hallmark year for me as this was my fifteenth year teaching (and they've not fired me yet, ha!). It's so strange how time does fly. Except that last full day of school when I still had kids in the art room. That was the perfect example of time not flying. Oh no. In fact I do believe it moved backwards.

But it's summer now and I couldn't be more excited...for the new school year! So many parents, students and coworkers have been asking what my theme will be for next year and I'm already brimming with ideas. Of course any thematic ideas from you would be much appreciated. Hubs is convinced I need to go with an "Art in the Future" theme...but my themes are usually a place so I'm not quite sold on that idea. I'd love to hear of some successful themes you've tried as well.

Until then, here's the second installment of our art show! Last week I shared what the halls of the kindergarten through second grade showcased. Today you're lookin' at my amazing third and fourth grade artists. I do hope you enjoy and if you have any questions, please feel free to ask.
I think this might have been one of my favorite new projects this year. You can see the full details of this lesson here.
We had so much fun printing these Eiffel Towers...and maybe a little too much fun with the chalk. Just how we went about this Parisian printing project here.
For every art show, I like to have a photo of the kids working in the art room. I also have them write an autobiography each year which we call the About the Artist sheet. Maybe I'll share that with you in the future. The suitcases with passports in the pocket were created at the start of the school year as a part of our travel theme. You can see the lesson here.

This project was a lot of fun because it was a sneaky way to incorporate literacy into our art...even if it was of the foreign language variety. We all agreed speaking French made us oh so fancy. Silhouette lesson here.
Another favorite project this year was creating gnomes and gnomettes. I've never used toilet paper tubes in art before and this year, we used them in three separate projects: The Hot Air Balloons over Paris, The Totally Tubular Castles and these here Gnomes.
Didn't my awesome parent volunteers do the best job hanging the student artwork? I love the variety in which each class was hung. The trick is to actually get the work to stay on the walls. We've tried it all and here's what works best: Blu Tac and 3M Double Sided Sticky Tape. And even then, I was on Rehang Duty each morning.

This display of fourth grade Pieces of Paris makes them look a little like quilts, don't you think?

One of the questions on the kids' About the Artist sheet is "What is your favorite art activity and why?" For almost every artist, it's either weaving or working with clay. I'm so glad they enjoy weaving as much as I do teaching it. Last summer I created a blog series on teaching weaving with Part One here.
Another view of a fourth grade wall.
Putting those tubes to use: Totally Tubular Castles.

One of my fourth graders sweet dog sculptures. You can check out more of their animal sculptures here.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

What the Art Teacher Wore: #65

Who knew The Force was so strong in Germany? Photo snapped outside a Lego store in Nuremberg. sweater: vintage, thrifted; skirt: Free People; scarf: France; boots: The Walking Company; belt: Anthropologie
Ermay, if I promise you that these are the last of my vacay photos will you forgive me? I'm hoping so as I've totally enjoyed sharing my adventures with you. As ya know, we spent lovely four days in Paris which I blabbered about here and here. On the fifth day, we flew into Nuremberg, Germany to attend the wedding party of some friends. We arrived in the morning where hubs promptly went off to work leaving me to spend the day in Nuremberg...
Old Town Nuremberg is the beautiful part of the city that is completely walled in. A lovely place called the Imperial Castle sits at the very top of this walled fortress, overlooking the lay of the land. I traveled to this city over the summer where I was able to get much better photos of the view. You can see them here, if you don't mind all the photos of our school mascot in the mix. I adored this shop window of antique dolls.
The food in Paris was amazing, especially the desserts. Which I greatly missed while in Germany. Don't get me wrong, I do love me some pretzel bread. But this here vegetarian can only eat so many stinkin' pretzels!

That Imperial Castle I mentioned earlier? Well, here 'tis. Not exactly what you were expecting when I said "castle" was it? I think I love this more than my vision of a cold gray stone slab of a building. I think I have a weak spot for timber framed houses. And flowery window boxes. Oh, also those striped shutters!
More Imperial Castle awesomeness.

So after eating, shopping and exploring my way through Nuremberg, I had to get myself to the actual wedding party. By myself. Without a car. With the help of some super friendly Germans, I found the train station, my train and made it safely to Neustadt an der Aisch. Yeah, you ask for directions to that place ten times fast. I huffed it back to our hotel from the train station just in time to get dolled up and head over to the party...where this was taking place.

Yeah, so I'm not German. And I'm not familiar with their traditions. So this one was very fun and unique to me. The deal is, as a guest, you bring old ceramic plates to the wedding party. The bride and groom (pictured above in their traditional dress) wait outside while you wish them well and break dishes at their feet. They then sweep up the dishes and throw them away until not a single shard it left. Keep in mind that there were about 600 folks at this party. This bride and groom were working for at least 2 hours while the rest of us drank and dined.
Me and Mitch (aka hubs).

Because my hubs works for a German musical instrument company (called Meinl, if you're interested), we've traveled there frequently. When we do, we always stay at what's become my favorite hotel, the Allee. It sits right beside a sweet little park with a pond where you can see the ducks swimming and folks out walking their dogs.
The following day hubs and I got up and took a day trip to the town of Bamberg, aka the Venice of Germany. As you drive through the countryside of Germany (which is exactly that, beautiful countrysides), you pass through these amazingly old towns filled with castles and churches older than the country I live in. sweater: DIY, here; top, coat and pants: Anthropologie; scarf: Orla Kiely

Everything was blooming. We strolled the streets and shops of Bamberg even stumbling upon a vintage flea market.

I struck a pose on this very bridge this summer. I had to snap a picture of this tour guide and her rapt Harley audience.
Okay Bamberg, Venice of Germany you may be, but I think I'd much rather find myself in a gondola than a kayak going upstream!
We ended our evening back in Nuremberg to have dinner with some friends. The city was insanely busy because they were celebrating something called Blue Nights...which was basically like a pub crawl illuminated with blue light bulbs. Hey, I'm down with any kind of celebration, don't get me wrong! Just as long as I'm not the one sweeping up a mountain of plates. 

Thanks for enduring the last of my Euro-vacay photos. You deserve a pretzel.