Friday, July 30, 2010

sittin' in a NYC hotel room changing my blog layout

I love this picture, but don't know where I originally found it. It goes well with my tag line: Come on in, the color's fine!

Why am I in a hotel somewhere in Queens, NY? Because, early tomorrow morning we will go to JFK airport to pick up our son, who has been in South Africa for 8 weeks. While there he's been on a safari, bungeed off a bridge (possibly the world's highest commercial bungee), attended a world cup soccer game, and much much more, and somehow did it all and still found time for the 6 week college internship program he was in Africa to attend.

So tonight, in between checking periodically to see if his flights are on schedule, I've decided it's time to give my blog a new look. I've changed it so many times tonight I've lost all perspective. So it's time to quit and get some sleep. I don't know if I like it, but I doubt I'd be able to get it back in its original simple configuration anyhow. So don't be surprised if it changes again while I'm still on summer vacation... Please, let me know if you like it and if you are able to find what you are looking for. Be honest !

Just checked the airline. His 8 hour flight from Johannesburg to Dakar landed on time, and he is now back in the air again, for another 8 hours that will bring him here to NYC. Then it's a 4 to 5 hour drive home... But his girlfriend will be with us and it should all be good!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Fun and easy yarn projects at PTSA summer camp!

We had a great week making giant Ojo de Dios (God's eyes) and pompom critters, and learning to make a Japanese Kumihimo braid. The kids ranged from those entering 4th grade to 6th grade, with my 'helper' entering 7th grade, and everyone was successful and happy.

The God's eyes were made on 3' dowels. The kids caught on quickly and chose very unique color combinations.

Everyone got so good at making pompoms, we made these adorable pompom critters.
So easy and cute!

Kumihimo is very easy to do - all you need is a notched circle of heavy cardboard and some yarn. The kids were surprised by how easy it was to learn, and they all took their 'looms' home and came back each day to show me what they had made the previous night without any assistance. We made bracelets and keychains.

All in all, it was a good week. And as for my super helper, I needed a reminder to be specific with instructions! One day, I asked her to PICK UP the rolls of masking tape we had used. I neglected to say PUT THEM AWAY. So I walked the kids to the front door to meet their rides home, and when I returned to my classroom, this (picture below) was what I found. She had certainly 'picked up' the tape! Cute, huh?

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Being artistic at the beach...

I did two of my favorite vacation activities today while on the Maine coast - playing in the sand (you're never too old), and mucking about in tidepools!

The sand creation started out to be a lizard eating a dragonfly, but somewhere along the way the lizard was given bumps on its back and decidedly alligator-like eyeballs. So I suppose I should have changed the dragonfly into a severed limb of some poor victim...

After it was complete, two tiny little girls arrived, picked up my shovel, and went to work altering my critter - they made it a dish filled with 'food' in case it was hungry, removed its nose, and were still at it when we left. Their parents were very worried I'd be upset, so I had to assure them I was fine with the kids' alterations, since in a few hours the tide would wash it all away anyhow.

On another note, for those of you who read my blog earlier this spring/summer when I nervously mentioned my 21 yr. old son heading off to South Africa, we've been worried about him this week because he had left the security of a college campus and was traveling independently on a backpacker's bus. So yesterday he did the one thing I begged him not to do (how dumb of me) - he jumped off a bridge - the Bloukran's bridge, at 216m supposedly the world's highest commercial bungee jump . And survived. Today, he's safely with relatives near Johannesburg so we are awash with relief. Saturday they get on a helicopter to go to a game reserve for a 5-day safari.

Monday, July 19, 2010

not an art lesson, but oh so beautiful!

As we drove up the road from our Loon Lake camp at dusk, we had a chance encounter with these lovely white tail deer. Oh, I wish I knew how to tell them to be careful when hunting season begins in the fall. There's so much hunting in my locale, and it breaks my heart every time I see these animals up close so beautiful and shy. (Of course, this is written by me, and I still cry every time I see Bambi...)

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Color Wheel Table

Someone in school was discarding this old round table at the end of the school year last year, and I rescued it with the plan to turn it into sort of a color wheel. I got the project started but never finished it.

During my summer arts and crafts program last week (which I'll post about soon) I took some time and restarted the project.

My young "teaching assistant"(a sweet girl about to enter 7th grade who volunteered to help with the class) came up with the idea for the middle. The original plan was more complicated, but I simply did not have enough time to get it done. Along with coming up with the idea, she stayed after the program and helped to paint the center part of the table design.

Now I'll put on a couple more coats of a protective coating/shine so that it should last well. It's not perfect, but I'm pretty pleased with the result and I think the kids will like it! :-)

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Always a Bright Side

Some dear friends have recently gone through treatment for breast cancer, so this post is for them in particular, but also in honor of any women who have, or currently are, or will be battling breast cancer. You are a brave bunch of gals! A special thanks to my friend 'C' for letting me use these photos of her. I'll begin by explaining how the piece of art in the photo above, titled "Always a Bright Side" came about.

When my good friend C, the 4th grade teacher down the hall, was diagnosed last school year and was told she would need chemo, she knew she didn't want to wear wigs but was concerned about the naked look of her bald head. But she's got a positive outlook on life, so I joined in to help her 'make lemonade' out a situation that could have been very sour indeed.

Being the doodler I am, I agreed to do a 'henna tatto
o' on her scalp when she lost her hair (yes, it is safe). (C, was it your idea or mine? I don't even remember!) Eventually we repeated the process two more times, until her hair began to grow back.

C said she needed eyes in the back of her head, for her rambunctious students, so that's how I began. And then it just grew from there, with no real plan.

Here's how it looked when we were done (after a few hours of crazy doodling and a LOT of laughter):

The second time, we repeated the eyes but then added a tree beginning at the base of her neck, with critters hidden everywhere.

Henna doesn't seem to get very dark on a scalp, so in an attempt to get the henna to 'take' better, we wrapped C's henna-paste covered head in cellophane to keep in heat and moisture as in photo below. (If we weren't already rolling with laughter, this sealed the deal!) Then she pulled a hat over it to keep her head warm. It was wintertime, after all.
And above is is the foot of C's teenage daughter. Cute, huh?

The third time, we went with an underwater theme. (Look to the upper center of the back of her head to find the eyes, this time two kissing fishies. )

The kids at school treated her head like a game of "I Spy" or "Where's Waldo", looking for critters and doo-dads. C said she never felt bald when the henna was on her head. And each time we repeated the process, we laughed for hours.

I had a grand time digitally altering the photos of C's henna-ed head. Then, for the framed artwork shown at the beginning of this post, I did a 'toothpaste batik' on some pink fabric that I then adhered to a mat. I think the title, "Always a Bright Side" is pretty explanatory. By the way, by the end of school, C's hair was growing like weeds. But we still have henna left over. Maybe we should doodle on our legs while sitting on the dock?
These photos below show a close up of the 'batik' fabric and an altered image that I did not use in the final product. IYou'll find instructions for toothpaste batik in an older post here:

Friday, July 9, 2010

Global warming part 2 - a new art apron

After I took my morning walk, as the heat set in, I got to work in the cool house creating a new art apron. I used a couple of fabric remnants (sparkly denim for the apron, and another cool fabric for the pockets), an old Mexican woven belt (for the neck strap), another old fabric belt (for the waist tie), and a lonely purple shoelace (for some extra trimming). I also cut up an extra-large T-shirt with artists' quotes on it, that I received for free at a conference and never wore (because at barely 5' tall I'm decidedly un-XL).
Can't wait to mess it up when school starts!
When I asked my husband to come outside to shoot the photo of me in the apron, Isis bolted out the door. She is a HOUSE cat, but spends time outside for much of the day on a harness and rope tied to the porch ("dope on a rope"). Luckily for me, she's dopey enough that she flopped down and rolled, so I caught her before she got too far away. Too hot for chasing kitties.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Too hot to play outside -global warming has arrived

It's a major HEAT WAVE here in northeastern NY state - I know this string of days in the upper 90's may seem like no big deal to you southerners out there, but it is unusual for us, and the air is thick and humid. I love the summer, but right now it's pretty unbearable outside. :-(
So - what's the vacationing art teacher (with no kids at home) to do when it is simply TOO HOT to swim, kayak, or even read a book on the dock by the lake?

Stay inside, and play with beads, of course!
Here's a little of what I've been up to - mostly easy stuff...