Sunday, July 26, 2015

Honing my skills or just having fun?


Summer provides the opportunity for busy teachers to 'sharpen their saw' as the saying goes. I've been cutting down a lot of trees all year and now I get to have some fun of my own as I sit back and bask in the freedom of leisure time activities that also function as a means to exploration, discovery, invention and creative learning experiences. This is exactly the agenda I promote for my students in the classroom.  I'm learning new techniques that remind me what is involved in an inspirational lesson, thus, sharpening my professional 'saw'.
It's no secret that a good teacher is also a lifetime learner. I think most parents and educators embrace this process of 'work and replenish'. But for those who only see summer vacation as 'time off' for teachers...think again! If I didn't have time to explore and expand my own creativity, I'd be more weary than cheery. Likewise, a student needs the time and freedom that summer provides to build their characters independent of school. They come back to us each year with minds refreshed by the easy, breezy sunlit patience of summer.
So, here's a taste of what I have been doing this summer. It may look like pure PLAY...but somewhere in the background this lumberjill is sharpening that 'ol saw one tooth at a time.


It all starts with a hearty breakfast. Sliced peaches and apples are dipped in pancake batter and cooked on the griddle. Topped with butter and a touch of that awesome maple syrup we tapped in spring.



A trip to the DIA (Detroit Institute of Art) is always inspirational. While it's great to go on a school field trip, going sans students is a totally different experience. I enjoy the leisurely pace which allows me to look closely at the details of my favorite paintings.
Inside the DIA (Detroit Institute of Art)

Roses on a Wall, 1877     George Cochran Lambdin  American, 1830-96

The Nut Gatherers, 1882    Adolphe-William Bouguereau   French, 1825-1905

Portrait of Postman Roulin, 1888     Vincent vanGogh   Dutch, 1853-90 

Reading the Story of Oenone  about 1883     Francis Davis Millet   American, 1846-1912


I was super excited to make my own chamomile tea using the abundant flowers growing right in my own backyard. Apparently, I have a rogue variety as the dried flowers made some of the nastiest tea I have ever tasted. At least I got some pretty photos as I played around with my 'orphan' teacups and saucers, combining mix 'n match sets that may be even more beautiful than the coordinated sets! Lesson learned....sometimes things don't work out the way you planned, but even Einstein acknowledge  'Failure is success in progress.'





I started with some random costume jewelry bits and buttons. Glued them to the inside of a box. Spray paint: Green. Halfway done. At this point I decided to stop and take some photos and play with them in Photoshop. Discovered Had a little more digital fun as I continue to work on collage. I'll be sure to share the image when completed.

I used the APP 'PicCollage' to quickly combine the images below.
3D collage to be continued.....


I love working/playing in our garden. However, pulling weeds from the brickwork is not one of the tasks I enjoy. I saw this tip on Pinterest and decided to give it a try. I didn't exactly follow the directions (artists rarely do). I'm kinda lazy in the summer so instead of mixing the white vinegar and baking soda I just sprinkled it on the bricks, did a little sweeping with a broom and sprayed water on it with the hose to 'mix it up' a bit. Worked like a charm. This is the second summer I have done this. Great success. It makes the pH of the soil between the bricks intolerable for weeds. SCORE for 'all natural' weed killer and preventer!

Picked some wild raspberries growing on the fence....
Harvested some MELROSE PEPPERS from my garden.
Absolutely the BEST sweet green pepper ever! Click HERE to see my post on this outrageously delicious Italian style pepper as well as a link to a time-tested recipe for stuffed peppers.

This ceramic candle ring/vase lets me bring a little of that sunny goodness inside!

 I get a lot of idea's about color combinations by looking at nature.

 Summer is....time for simple pleasures.


Mosaic Tile Table

I had an old table that had a solid round tile surface that was badly broken. I busted out the old top and cut a circle from plywood for the new top. I made a few ceramic flowers and busted up some old ceramic pieces to combine with glass baubles I got at the dollar store. I applied the adhesive to the back of the tiles pieces using a plastic knife. Some of the pieces were thin and some were thick, so I had to adjust the amount of adhesive to allow them to sit flush with each other to create a fairly smooth surface. After the adhesive dried I applied the grout, let it sit for a few minutes until it set up, then wiped the surface with a sponge. Applied grout sealer to avoid staining and porosity. Voila! Old table is new again and better than ever!

Gotta love that PicCollage app!


KID FUN...Handprints, Footprints and Chalk paint

Sidewalk chalk is lots of fun. Spreading chalkpaint with a brush provided a whole new experience to my budding artists, who loved mixing the liquid colors.  There are many recipes online for you to choose from. Pick whatever is easiest for you and paint away!

Thinking about Christmas in July? Clean-up is a breeze when you can make clay items outdoors! We had lots of little hands helping us make these charming Santa's.

Stamps were used to add the names and a straw was used to punch a perfect hole. After bisque firing them I painted on watered down semi-transparent layers of color with acrylic paints (paint on, then quickly use a sponge to gently wipe off: white, red, green, black wash. Add loose outlines with a black permanent marker) I sealed the paint with a quick spritz of clear acrylic matte glaze spray.

Oreo Brownies

Because brownies don't have enough calories on their own.....
Note: Totally worth it.

Cute 'n Casual Girls Dress

The little girls in my life want to be comfy in their little dresses and mommies don't want to worry about ruining high-priced garments. I kept that in mind when I created these one-of-a-kind dresses that were soooooo easy to make! I bought long sleeve shirts at Walmart (yes....$3.88!), satin ribbon + about 2 ft. of elastic (OR just wide elastic as shown in pink dress) and about a half a yard of ADORABLE fabric (foxes, squirrels, hedgehogs, oh my!) for each toddler dress. I also used wide elastic instead of the satin ribbon on some of the dresses.I cut the shirt off  3 inches below the armpit. I gathered and hemmed the skirt and after attaching it to the shirt I added the satin ribbon. I don't have instructions and don't measure things (as I mentioned earlier, artists rarely follow directions) other than 'eyeballing it' for size. But I can tell you that I made the elastic stretchy enough that this could be a dress that pulls on over the head comfortably (kids can't be bothered with silly  buttons or zippers) and I attached the ribbon only in front so the elastic could expand. Wash it, wear it, play in worries.



The summer is only halfway through and I've got a list of things to make that, ironically, keeps getting longer! (Shame on you, Pinterest!)
All in the name of.....



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