Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Art Teacherin' 101: Episode 9

I recently created this Cursive Writing Dry Erase Board for a couple of reasons: it opens up another activity for my early-finishers and it introduces my students to the fine motorin' fun of cursive handwriting which is no longer apart of our state curriculum. In this Art Teacherin' 101, I'll share with you what options my early finishers have in my art room. I'll also show you how I created this fun and cheap Cursive Writing Dry Erase Board!
Just a little back history about me, I didn't attend an elementary school that offered art. In fact, I didn't have art classes until 7th grade! So my art fix came in the form of those purple ditto sheets with lines and lines of cursive writing practice. I loved getting my kitten mittens on those cool purple worksheets (y'all have to be a person of a certain age to even understand what it is I'm talkin' about!). Sadly, cursive writing was removed from our curriculum a couple of years ago and replaced with keyboarding. KEYBOARDING, Y'ALL. Don't they know the proven benefits to having children write in cursive?! So I'm on an art teacherin' mission to bring it back:
Now, I didn't come up with this idea of cursive writing boards. You can purchase them on several websites. However, the cheapest I've seen them is $6. Picking up those lined boards for a dollar at Target was a great buy. It took me maybe 5 minutes to write up the letters and paint with ModPodge. 
I'll be interested to see how my students take to this new early finisher activity. Many of them are already fascinated with cursive writing and want to learn. I'm kinda thinking that introducing them to calligraphy might be fun as well. I had a set as a kid and it was one of my favorite things. 
What are some of your favorite early finisher activities in your art room? Would you ever give Cursive Writing Dry Erase Boards a go? 

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Monday, June 27, 2016

What the Art Teacher Wore #166: A Feature in Threads Magazine

A while back, I was contacted by Threads magazine about a feature in their magazine. I was beyond flattered and thrilled that this publication, which is for some super serious sewers, thought of crazy ole self-taught-stitcherin' me. Now that this issue of the magazine is no longer available on newsstands (this article is from their April/May issue), I am free to share it here with y'all. 

Now if some of these photos look familiar that's because they were the ones snapped by Nashville Arts magazine for this article! The other dresses were more current creations. For that reason, I boxed 'em up and shipped 'em to Threads magazine so they could take pictures of them. Because the copy is super small, I thought I'd share with you what Stephani L. Miller and I chatted about here. Enjoy!
Cassie Stephens: An Art Teacher Fashions Fabulous Outfits to Inspire Students

Cassie Stephens learned how to sew just a few years ago. Since then, she's graduated from ready-to-wear refashions to attention-grabbing ensembles that she wears to support her art lessons in the classroom. The Nashville, Tennessee, elementary school teacher's motivations is to encourage her 400 students to get interested and learn about art. She makes outfits inspired by artists and cultures to engage her students' interest and show them how art can be applied to life. Cassie has found that wearing something she's created nearly every day is a great way to start conversations with students and spark their creativity. 

Threads talked to Cassie about using sewing as a classroom tool, and how linking her creativity to her teaching fuels her passion for both.

Threads: What first inspired you to sew something for teaching?

Me: I needed an apron to wear while teaching, but all I could find were aprons for chefs. So I stocked up on fabrics from a thrift store and an old pair of jeans. I sewed an apron that looked like I was wearing a shirt and jeans, and I appliquéd a guitar - complete with faux tuning pegs and strings - across the front. I embroidered a patch onto the jeans that read "Art Rocks". I had so much fun creating it that I started sketching more ideas and attempted to bring them to life. Rock Star Apron, here

Threads: What was the first thing you sewed specifically to support a lesson plan?

Me: In the beginning, I was unsure of my sewing skills, so I eased into it by repurposing thrift store clothing. My first masterpiece-inspired dress was based on Katsushika Hokusai's woodcut print, The Great Wave at Kanagawa. I appliquéd the entire scene onto the front of a thrifted white dress. I likened appliqué to collage, and I feel very comfortable with that medium. My students and colleagues responded so well to that dress that I decided to create more. The Great Wave Dress, here

Threads: How do you plan your lessons and outfits?

Me: Here's how my ADHD-fueled mind works: Planning lessons leads to sketch outfits to accompany the lessons. From there, I start scouring the Web for the perfect fabric or media to make my lesson-inspired outfit. Then, I finish lesson planning. It has become an integral part of my teaching method. When I first began teaching, I focused solely on educating my students. I read every book written. I worked tirelessly on my lessons and in my art room, but I stopped creating. And I became very unhappy and even bitter toward teaching. But when I decided to marry my passion for creating with teaching, I became excited about teaching again. I realized the using my ability to create and educate was what art is all about. I became a whole lot happier when I started to connect as many dots as possible in my teaching and creative lives. I need to create to teach and teach to create.

Threads: How do the students respond to your outfits?

Me: My students are very curious about my clothing. Many of them have never seen a sewing machine and are unaware of the concept of making their own clothing. In their world, clothes come from a store, and how they are created never enters their minds. We have many conversations about how my clothing is made. And they'll often come in with an outfit they've altered based on something wacky I have worn.

Threads: How do you translate an art inspiration into a garment?

Me: When an artist has inspired me to design, I think of what medium would best translate their style. For example, when I sewed my Andy Warhol inspired Cambell's Soup Cans dress (here), I knew appliqué would be the best medium. When I wanted to create a dress featuring Claude Monet's Water Lilies (seen here), I thought needle-felting would best showcase his Impressionist style. Sometimes, I get lucky and find fabric featuring an artist work, like a Piet Mondrian print (here). When that happens, I use that fabric to sew a dress.

Threads: How do you hope your students remember you?

Me: I hope they remember how much I love teaching them. I have a sign in my art room that reads, "My job is to love you." I hope I convey that love by my actions, my lessons and my wacky clothes!

Thanks for reading, y'all! 
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Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Art Teacherin' 101: Episode 8

Holy moly, y'all! I have discovered Art Teacher Heaven and it looks like this: 
I know most of you art teacherin' types are familiar with The Dollar Tree and all of it's amazingness but I hardly ever venture inside. Prolly because I don't trust those places that refer to themselves as "dollar"-y when they actually mean dollar$$ (yes, I'm talking about YOU, Target "Dollar" Spot. Smh.) Then the other day, on a whim, I spotted something shiny in the window and tiptoed inside. Two giant bags of dollar-y goodness later, I was CONVINCED that this place was perf and I just had to share my excitement with y'all. So, here's what I picked up for my art room, why and how I plan to put it to use in some crazy creative art making!
Now, like I said, I didn't buy EVERYTHING...but I got really close. Below are somethings that I left behind but I do believe would be useful in any art room. 
This kind of chalk is pretty useless for making art inside...but it would be great for the outdoors (hence the name "sidewalk" chalk). I thought it was a pretty solid amount of chalk for the price. 
If it's one thing that no art teacher can ever have enough of, it's bowls, trays, plates, bins, you get the idea. I loved the sweet patterns on these hard plastic bowls. 
Okay, help me out here. I need these in my art room! I mean, the architectural history in these sand castle building thingies is just too much. I left them behind but I do love them so. 
 Need a cheap still life? How about a Frida Kahlo crown? The Dollah got you covered. 
For those of you that color coordinate your art room, the possibilities were endless. Totally digging the table clothes. 
I have a stash of thank you, birthday and blank cards at school for when I need them. 
I hate putting together puzzles. I'd much rather use the pieces for collage projects or print making! What a fun assortment for on the cheap.
The assortment wasn't huge but what they did have was good: U.S. map, behavior charts, die cut letters and those things I scooped up.
 In my art room, I have a little light that I turn on when it's the kid's turn to chat. Meaning, when I'm giving directions, I don't want to constantly see hands up and be fielding questions. It's disruptive and time consuming. When the light is off, the kids know it's my turn to chat. When it's on, they can ask questions. An alternative to this is an Open/Closed sign. A fellow art teacher told me about it years ago. It's the same concept: Open means they can chat and ask questions; Closed means it's a listening time. 
 Organization for days.
How fun would these mirrors be for self portraits? I don't know if the dudes would dig them but my girls would feel like Cinderella.
Safety googles for when things get a bit STEAM-y in your art room.
I was JUST trying to find these the other day to label somethings and none of my office supply stores had them. Now I know.
Totally digging those flowery trays. Think of all the art supplies those could hold per table!
 I mean, really. There is no reason I shouldn't be able to get organized. The Dollah was reminding me of this on every isle. 
If you have sinks, you need these. I've twice had sinks get backed up because sweet, innocent children (ahem) drop paint brushes down the drain. 
 These would be perfect screens for paper making!
 We use these trays in my room for papier mache and plaster projects. They are also great if you want to do paper marbling. 
 I send my students clay projects home wrapped in newspaper and stuffed in a lunch bag. These are so much cheaper than the ones I pick up at the grocery! Also, foil is wonderful for the leaf relief project you can find on the right hand side of this blog. 
All of my tables have table top trashcans. I totes would have picked these up if I didn't have some 'cans already. 
 I have a couple of these in my art room that get used plenty.
 Wanna organize those paint brushes?
Resealable condiment cups are my jam. These are great for paint, glue, you name it!
So, what did I forget? I'm dying for a reason to go back!
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Sunday, June 19, 2016

What the Art Teacher Wore #165

 Manic Monday: Having just returned from Art Scouts, I realized that I'd not taken any time to add flowers to our front yard or steps. Now, here in Tennessee, it starts getting HAWWWT before the sun even rises which means you gotta get your weed-pullin'/flower-plantin' game on early. On this day, I'd hit the garden center, mowed the lawn and stuck stuff in the ground all before 10 am. There might have been a nap or two in the afternoon. dress: thrifted, vintage; belt: Pin Up Girl Clothing; shoes: Converse; box purse: Enid Collins, my favorite

Wowza, where did this week go? Summer needs to slow it's roll because when June ends and July steps in, I get that Sunday-Night Blues feeling. We head back to school on Auggie 1st so July is just the beginning of the end. I still have end-of-the-school-year cleaning to do, y'all. Ima gonna say that is NOT going to happen any time soon.

In other news, I finished the last of the 52 Clay Labs I've been working on for the book I'm writing. THAT was a good feeling. When I was first approached with this project, I felt certain I could never come up with that many ideas for no-kiln clay projects. In the end, I had a surplus of ideas but was more than happy to stop at 52 (like, seriously. SO happy). It's gonna be a long while before a hard copy becomes a reality, but until then, the hard part is oooo-ver.

This coming week is full of work. I've got a deck to power wash and stain, some redecorating I want to do and a couple of fun new projects in the works (I'll keep you posted). Working on the book made it so the DIY action on this here blog suffered a bit. I'm so happy to bring that back. You don't know how many times I've just stood in my sewing room, looked around and uttered the words, "I miss yooooooou, Sewing Room." I'll be so happy to get back in there.

What are your plans this week?
 We all have our favorite things. One of mine happens to be Enid Collins box purses. Made in the late 60's, they make me go weak in the knees. Finding these lovelies isn't all that hard as etsy and ebay are fully loaded. But the prices, THE PRICES, are just plain crazy. My days of finding these in the wild (aka the thrift store) are officially over. What do y'all collect?
 Summer Storm Tuesday: I do love me a good ole spooky summer storm. You know the kind: sunny and bright one minute then black as night with claps of thunder the next. Getting caught in it is the worst but from the comfort of home with a cat on your lap, it's pretty cozy. dress: vintage
 If you follow me in Instagram, then you know the next Art Scouts is coming soon to beautiful Tennessee! Jen and I spent some time preparing for our awesome Scouts and painting a backdrop. We are thrilled with how it is turning out, can't wait to share it with you!
 Getting in the Mood Wednesday: At the end of July, my buddy Laura Lohmann and I will be heading to sunny SoCal to work alongside our good friend Patty Palmer at her Summer Art Workshop! We are so excited. Our theme is Mexican art so, to get in the spirit of things, I wore my fave embroidered top. top: Buffalo Exchange; skirt: gift from a friend (thanks, Bethany!); belt: Amazon; shoes: Minnetonka; purse and necklace: vintage, thrifted
 The colors and design are so beautiful and sweet. I want to paint this on the front of our house! Pretty sure our HOA would frown on that tho. Party poppers. 
 Life is Short, Wear the Prom Dress: When I scored this dress at Buffalo Exchange a while back, I was like, "I'm NEVER going to have a place to wear this!" but it was just too pretty to leave behind. When I spotted it in my closet on Thursday, I just thought, eh, why not? To keep it casual, I paired it with my chucks and went about my errand running. I heard so many sweet compliments from all walks of life about this dress! So, note to self: ALWAYS wear the prom dress. 
 So, last night at 11:47pm, I wrote up the last Lab for the Clay Lab book. This photo was from a couple days prior when I was still testing recipes (and failing, obviously). I'm not a chef by any stretch so me making clay is rather comical.
Summer Movie Date: One of our fave things to do during the summer is hit the early show at the movies and grab dinner out. However, there ain't been much at the movies lately! We went to see The Conjuring 2 which had some great scares (just watching the big dude in front of me practically leap out of his chair at one scare was worth the price of admission). Have y'all seen any good movies this summer? Love a recommendation! dress: old, Forever 21; necklace: gift from a friend (thanks, Tamara!), Anthro

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Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Art Teacherin' 101: Episode 7

So, it's that time of year: End of the School Year De-Clutterin' Season. I thought it might be fun to chat about what items we should save and which we should trash in a lil something I like to call...HOARD IT OR HURL IT?!
Surprisingly, being the well-established hoarder that I am, I'm not opposed to hurling a thing or two. I know I just barely scraped the surface of all the stuff we art teacherin' types acquire. I'd LOVE to hear what you hoard...and what oddities you've been "gifted" that you had to quietly hurl. In fact, just this weekend, an art teacherin' friend told me she was once given styrofoam meat trays for printmaking...that hadn't quite been cleaned completely (that's a LITERAL hurl, y'all). 

So...what's in your closet?
I admit: my closet is kinda like the George Costanza wallet. It has pretty much everything even a hack MacGyver would need to weasel out of any situation. A box full of baby doll heads? Got it. A sack stuffed with Santa Claus beards? You betcha. I ain't proud. I'm just sayin'. 
I try not to open any of my closets in front of my students because it usually just ends up looking like this. It's like I'm opening a portal to Narnia if the Snow Queen was a feature on Hoarders and Narnia was chock full of crap. 
I've always thought: I CAN have all of my crap and much, MUCH more if I just have a place for it. So, once every 7 years, I go completely bananaz and organize, label and tidy everything. But then Fur Realz Cassie returns and messes everything back up again. I'll never be the Mary Poppins of Tidy-Town.
For me, I'll either need to get me a smoke screen like that one (um, genius!) or precede to HURL IT! It's on my summery to do. But so is spending countless hours in pajama-land and it looks like I'm pretty booked solid with that. 

So, whatcha got? And are you gonna Hoard It or Hurl It?

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