Tuesday, September 29, 2015

DIY: Needle Felted Postcards

Hey there, buddies! I hope y'all are doing swimmingly. Here in lovely Tennessee, we're in that moody in-between summer/fall phase which makes is impossible to dress without being horribly under/over prepared. Don't believe me? Lemme paint y'all a visual: Today it was 80% rain/80% sunny/99.2% cloudy/chance of sweating your butt off in the sunshine/chance of freezing your butt off in the shade. It's no wonder my sinuses are causing brain swelling. Tho with a brain the size of mine, a lil swelling never hurt nuthin. There's plenty of real estate between these ears o' mine.

During one of those moody fall days this weekend, I had the wonderful, super-duper, uber-exciting opportunity to teach a workshop at Nashville's Frist Center for Visual Arts! 
That's right, this crazy art teacherin' lady got to teach adult-sized artists my fave craft: needle felting! Our creations were inspired by the Postcards of the Wiener Werstatte which translates to the Vienna Workshop. The Workshop began in the early 1900s and was a means of turning your life into a "total work of art" (sounds fab, right?). Meaning they sold everything you could ever desire as a lovely artistic creation so that your life simply permeated art. The best seller at the time? Postcards! And that's the basis of this incredible exhibit. 
My buddy Rosemary Brunton, associate educator for community engagement at the Frist, lead us through the exhibit, filling us in on the history and allowing us time to explore and sketch. When we returned to the studios, this incredible group of art teachers, fiber-arts lovers and workshop-junkies (you know who you are!) were busting with ideas for their needle felted postcards. 
That's right, we created needle felted postcards! AND mailed them (more on that shortly). We created these little 4" X 6" masterpieces to tiptoe into the fine art of needle felting. It allowed the participants to watch me give a short demo and explore the medium in anyway they wanted. It was a fun and quick-ish intro for the crew. If you wanna catch a snippet of what they learned, you can check out these videos I filmed a while back that will walk you through the needle felting basics and supplies. 
Supplies purchased from Amazon:

*  Clover needle felting tool
*  Replacement needles, fine
*  Roving, variety pack of colors
*  Cushion. I prefer the Clover brand bristle brush but you could use foam in a pinch
*  Fabric to needle felt on. YOU CAN NEEDLE FELT ON ANYTHING. Seriously. Jersey, acrylic felt, wool felt, wool, cashmere, you name it. Shoot, sometimes even your flesh but that's usually after a glass or three of wine. Which I don't recommend.
Stabby-stabby-stabby. It's seriously a stress reliever! 

Exploring on an inexpensive material like acrylic felt or muslin will allow you to really explore the medium without getting hung up on doing it "just right".
These participants did a fine job of really trying out their new craft. I love this spiral!

You can simply use roving in needle felting or you can combine it with yarn like the example on the right. I've only used wool yarn when needle felting but was told that even acrylic yarns would work.
 I love the three dimensional quality of this piece! 
 And this one! This and the one above were created by my art teacher buddies whom I've dubbed my Pensacola Friends! These lovely art teacherin' ladies drove all the way from Pensacola to attend the workshop. They were so sweet and fun, I loved having them! 
I can see this being a great exploration of the use of line and shape for older students. This piece is just so happy!
Once the postcards were complete, we wrote messages on card stock and hot glued them to the back. We popped them in the mail...but, sadly, Rosemary informed me today that they were returned to her. She was kind enough to stuff 'em all in envelopes and resend them. Lesson learned...but it was such a great idea, I thought! 
Once our practice pieces were complete, we moved on to a larger format work of art. Some participants sketched their design in chalk as I often do. I love using chalk on fabric as it "erases" pretty easily (just look at any sleeve of any sweater of mine!).
Others just dove right in with the roving like this van Gogh's Sunflowers-inspired piece.
 Did you know you can needle felt felt to felt? Did you know I can use the word felt in one sentence three times? How does that make you felt, er, feel? I love this piece...just wait til you see it complete!
 I loved everyone's unique ideas and hearing about their inspiration. We had such a happy group that loved to share ideas, thoughts, awkward youtube videos (what WAS that hand-held needle-felting tool/vibrator thing?!). 
 I love the graphic nature of this piece.
And my Pensacola Friends were all about the texture! I love the idea of "yarn painting" with needle felting. I never thought of that!

 Text-ure, baby! Love all the feels!
 Didn't I tell y'all it was amazing?!
 Did I mention that there were art teachers in the house?! This one needle felted pencils onto a pencil case that she hand embroidered. Oh! AND made that wet felted button. WHUUUUT?!
Alright, art history buffs, can you spot the artist-influence behind this tabby-cat piece? If you guessed Georges Rouault, you are correct! I love the stained glass quality of this piece.
 Look how painterly this piece turned out?! I love it!
Seriously. I could not have spent my Saturday with a more fun (funner!) bunch. Thank y'all for making my workshop such a blast to teach. And special thanks to Rosemary and the Frist for allowing me to do so! 
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Thursday, September 24, 2015

In the Art Room: Creating a Rousseau-Inspired Mural with First Grade

Hi, friends! I mightah told y'all that we're on a bit of a Rousseau-tiger-y kick at my school these days. If you follow me here, I've shared tons of photos of my young artists tiger-tastic work. Last week I shared the relief sculpture tiger pieces created by my fourth graders. I'll be certain to share all the deets on the other projects as well but for today, I thought I'd start with y'all the biggest hit: The First Grade Henri Rousseau Jungle Mural!
 A lil back story: we have our school Open House after the first month of school. I try my hardest to have a work of art hung by each student for the occasion. The last couple of years, we've done Dot Day. This year, I decided to opt for a different theme: Henri Rousseau's jungle paintings. I chose this for a couple of reasons. I'm emphasizing that Art is an Adventure and that artists are too! Also, the tigers are our school mascot so it looks fab-o and school-spirit-esque to see them plastered on the walls of our school. Having an over-arching theme for all grade levels really helps me keep my learning targets in line (5 different art lessons is enough! You add 5 different themes/topics/cultures/etc. and my lil mind is blown). So, Rouseau-inspired tigers it was!
 And first grade totally nailed it. To start, we began the school year by painting and texturing papers. The first grade was allowed to pick from a variety of warm colored pieces of construction paper. They added white, yellow and red to these papers in any way they decided. These were used as the basis for our tiger drawings. To better explain the process, I created a video! This video is in kid-friendly format so feel free to share in your art room with your students. 
I'd love to hear your thoughts on the video! I created this just for y'all...so please let me know what you like, what you'd like to see more of and if you'd like me to pretty please stop. By the way, sometimes my videos go up on my youtube channel before they debut here. If you subscribe to my channel, you'll be the first to view...lucky you! 
 In case you can't stand the sound of my voice, I've got snaps of the drawing steps. I drew with the children while they sat on the floor with their papers and oil pastels in front of them. We emphasized each element of art as we drew. This was a great way to introduce the elements of art by demonstrating them in our drawings!

 When using oil pastels, I always emphasize that we are not to wipe the oil pastels as they'll smear. My fave oil pastel brands are Sakura but I do love Gallery's fluorescent oil pastels. That's what's used on the eyes and the nose. So bright and the viscosity is very smooth. 

 We used black last because it can be the most disastrous as far as smearing goes. The kids were really excited to use black as suddenly their drawings came together. 
 I love the sweet personality of each tiger! Once the drawing was done, we used our green painted papers to create leaves for our tigers. These were added either in front or behind our tigers. 
 From there, we added a tail and glued that to the back of our tigers. 
 We used some scrap paper to create the tails. 

For the tail, we talked about line and the kids drew any kind of line they wanted. Then they created a parallel line to follow the first.
 Then zigzag stripes were added.

Once the tigers were complete, the mural was ready to be created. We spent one 30 minute class painting huge sheets of bulletin board  paper green. The kids loved it! They called it a Painting Party and attacked those large sheets of paper with a ton of energy.
The following class, we dialed it way down and talked about pattern. I started an organic leafy design on each paper that was green and a star pattern on each paper that was blue. The kids were given small brushes and asked to create a pattern of the original design. 
 The next morning, I got to school about an hour before it started, got super jacked up on coffee and busted that mural out. I laid 12' sheets of paper on the floor, one for each class. 
I started by gluing down the night sky papers with my high temp glue gun. Then the land papers were added. To finish, I went over each land form in either black or white paint. 
 HOWEVER, once the tigers were added, they completely vanished into the busy background! I was so sad! So I decided to outline each of the tigers in black paint. Again, this took no time because I had injected coffee straight into my eyeballs. Turns out you can run laps around the universe if you do that, who knew?!
And, viola! By the way, here's a peak at our Jungle Lounge and here's a look at the mural that this one replaced. Thanks for dropping by, y'all!

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Monday, September 21, 2015

DIY: A Prom Zombie Dress

Lil known fact: Halloween is the most celebrated holiday at Casa de Cassie. Not cuz we decorate all crazy-like (although the hubs' secret dream is to operate his own haunted house. Dream job goals, y'all. We all got 'em!). No, it's because we absolutely love going to haunted housing events with our fave being Universal Studios' Halloween Horror Nights.

Opening weekend was this past weekend and we were extra stoked because this year is the 25th year they've been running Halloween Horror Nights outta Orlando. Which could only mean one thing: tons more scariness. This year did not disappoint with nine haunted houses, most based on Universal flicks: The Purge, Insidious, Freddy vs. Jason, American Werewolf in London and others based on the Walking Dead and other spooky themes. Between walking from one haunted house to the next, there are themed areas called scare zones. So, in short, you are constantly being chased by scary chainsaw wielding maniacs. For example...
 Mitch (the hubs) was all, "Hey! You need photos for your blog. Just stand riiiiiiiight there and smile." 
Me: Are you done yet? Pretty sure that's enough photos. For realz. WHY ARE YOU STILL TAKING PHOTOS, WHAT'S BEHIND ME?
This lovely new friend of mine was just one of the awesome scare actors in the Shady Acres scare zone where the concept was inmates from the local asylum had escaped. Turns out she just wanted to show off her chain saw handling skillz...on my face.

Just a short clip to give you more of an idea. No videos or photos are allowed in the haunted houses...after all, you're there to "enjoy" them, not film 'em. But take my word for it, they were super scary.
 Now y'all might know that I've sewn and created my share of Halloween ensembles like this Day of the Dead number and this one, this Monster-Mash mash-up, these Haunted Mansion pants, this Universal Studios Horror Flick dress and this Bewitched dress. And every year, I say the same stinkin' thing: I'M NOT GONNA MAKE ANOTHER HALLOWEEN OUTFIT. But then, I spotted that there Alexander Henry Zombies! fabric at JoAnn's and I was like, fine! Just take all my moneys! Since I needed to bust this dress out quick, I settled on that vintage McCall's 6221. If it looks familiar to y'all, that's cuz I've made a Monet dress, a Valentine's Day number and a Barbecue frock with it. 

After that super scary night, we went to Disney's Not-So-Scary event. Now, I might be a lil biased because I'm kinda bananaz for Disney but this event was so great! Families get all dressed up and trick or treat at the various treat-giving locations. Also, ALL of the characters are out for you to get your photo with. What that meant for us was that most folks were so busy with the candy and the photo ops that they weren't in line for the rides. We had a 5 minute wait on Space Mountain, Thunder Mountain and The Haunted Mansion which, if you've ever been to any Disney, you know that's unheard of.
The maids of the Haunted Mansion (my absolute favorite-est ride with It's a Small World coming in at a close second) were decked out and so fun to chat with. I love how they immediately snapped into character when they realized Mitch was snapping photos!
 Boom! Nailed it! 
They also had tons of scare-actors out and about! There was this fabulous ghost story teller outside of the Haunted Mansion that was a total riot. And a traveling troupe of Civil War ghosts who sang western tunes acapella. But the parade and the fireworks were my fave.
But the best thing was getting to eat at Be Our Guest. Y'all. It's like Mission Impossible to get a reservation here. But right before we left our hotel, Mitch decided to all them on a whim and ask if they had anything available. The hostess informed us that they'd just had one spot open up! I enjoyed dining in there so much that I didn't even think to snap a single photo but you can see more of the place here
Oh, look! Mitch and I posing in front of obnoxiously phallic tikis! Thank you for letting me blabber on about our lil scary-cation and show off my Zombie print dress. Y'all are the best.  photo signature_zpsd10b3273.png