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11  HOME SWEET HOME / Interior Decorating: Completed Projects / Route 66 kitchen cabinets on: January 02, 2011 12:09:10 PM
I'm in the process of repainting my kitchen with various garden scenes on the cabinet doors. I posted a few pictures of this WIP on Facebook, where I mentioned that this was my favorite method for hiding nicks, scratches, scars, and stains on cabinets that were too battered to look good with a plain paint job and too cheaply made to be worth stripping and staining.

During the course of a FB conversation, I remembered that I still had some photos of a similar project I'd done on the cabinets at my old house in Illinois. I thought somebody here might enjoy seeing them.

The guy on the left is the Gemini Giant in Wilmington, Ill. At right: My late rat terrier, Scout, loved going to Ted Drewes' Frozen Custard.

Left to right: Kansas sunflowers; the Round Barn in Arcadia, Okla.; the 66 Courts sign, formerly in Groom, Texas; and the Blue Spruce Lodge in Gallup, N.M. Scout, in a rare moment of good behavior, decided to sunbathe in front of the cabinets while I was taking pictures of them.

Left: the Wigwam Motel in Holbrook, Ariz.; right: Roy's Cafe and Motel in Amboy, Calif.

Left: the famous billboard at the Jackrabbit Trading Post, Joseph City, Ariz.; right: the Blue Whale, Catoosa, Okla.

I painted the drawer fronts to look like old Burma-Shave signs and used toy cars as drawer pulls. I figured out that I could drill holes in the bottoms of toy convertibles and then attach them to the drawers with a wingnut and bolt.

The complete rhyme said:

At left: John's Modern Cabins, Newburg, Mo. At right: my favorite neon swallow from the Blue Swallow Motel, Tucumcari, N.M.
12  MORE ART, LESS CRAFT / More Art, Less Craft: Completed Works / Bob Waldmire tribute postcard on: December 15, 2010 07:29:55 PM
I thought I'd posted this when I made it, but evidently I was waiting around to finish the back of it, which never happened. In any case ...

Exactly one year ago tomorrow, Bob Waldmire -- hippie, artist, Route 66 advocate, and one of the dearest men I've ever known -- passed away. Bob was the inspiration for the character Fillmore in the movie Cars. Bob was well-known for his intricate Route 66 postcards, and although pen-and-ink is not really my medium, as soon as I got word of his passing, I set about trying to create a Waldmire-style postcard featuring Bob himself.

Here's what I came up with:

And here's the photo I used as my starting point:

You can see Bob, his van, and some of his amazing handiwork here:


I still miss Bob.... Cry
13  MISCELLANEOUS TOPICS / Completed Projects / Robochalk and number line on: December 06, 2010 06:55:19 PM
Here are a couple of toys/tools for teachers. One is math-specific, but the other would probably work for just about any subject.

I teach high-school algebra. If you teach high-school algebra, you know that if you want something fun for your kids to use in the classroom, you're probably going to have to make it yourself.

My kids are shy about calling out their answers in class, but they LOVE writing messages on the back of my car, which is covered with chalkboard paint, so I decided to make a set of "answer paddles" for them to hold up when they finish a problem. The ones I've seen at teachers' supply stores were obscenely expensive and could only be used with dry-erase markers (also expensive), but I figured I could cover some wooden paddles with chalkboard paint left from the aforementioned car-painting project and accomplish the same thing.

I couldn't find enough wooden paddles at the craft store, but cardboard robots were available for $1.99 a dozen, so I bought two dozen. We haven't used them yet, but the kids saw them today and are dying to use them, so hopefully the fun of writing their answers on chalkboard robots and holding them up for me to check will override the fear of revealing a wrong answer. I think they're pretty cute:

While I had the chalkboard paint out, I made a really effective tool for checking kids' work when they graph inequalities on a number line. I coated the fronts of 22 hardware-store yardsticks with blackboard paint, put number lines on them with a silver paintmarker -- using the inch marks, which were stamped into the wood, as a guide to keep the spacing even -- and handed them out in class, along with pieces of chalk and felt squares for the kids to use as erasers.

They don't look fancy, but they're ideal for my purposes: big enough to be visible from halfway across the room (thus allowing me to check multiple students' work at a glance), but small enough that they're not unwieldy to use or difficult to store when we're not using them.

The other great thing about them is that they make the kids feel loved. My kids try to act nonchalant, but when I make something myself for them to use -- whether it's a game or a classroom decoration or a tool to help them understand the assignment -- they get really excited about it: "You MADE that? How long did that take? I can't believe you'd spend all that time just to make something for us!" At some level, I think that's probably more valuable than understanding algebra.  Smiley
14  HOME SWEET HOME / Crafty Housewares: Completed Projects: General / DON'T PANIC on Towel Day! on: May 24, 2010 09:12:05 PM
As usual, I forgot about Towel Day until the last possible second, so I made a mad dash to the local big-box hellhole this evening to see what I could rustle up on the fly. I came up with a black hand towel and some iron-on rhinestone letters. Here are the results:

Simple, but with a touch of nerd class. Smiley
15  HOME SWEET HOME / Exterior Decorating / Yard Art / Gardening: Completed Projects / Grateful Gnome on: January 30, 2010 10:03:29 AM
This is what happens when I have a snow day and can't get the hippie wagon out of the driveway. Some people scramble to make sure they have milk and bread before an ice storm. I scramble to make sure I have craft supplies -- in this case, paint and lawn gnomes:

If you look closely at the back, you can tell that poor little Jerry was either jostled or squished after being unmolded, because his butt is all caved in on one side, and his torso is sort of twisted. In retrospect, I probably should have given him a Salvador Dali mustache and painted melting watches and vaguely obscene insects all over his clothes, but I think the psychedelic paint job (inspired by a cosmic Dancing Bear bumper sticker I bought the other day) does a decent job of disguising his deformities.

Come spring, I'll station him in a bed of scarlet begonias. Cool
16  MISCELLANEOUS TOPICS / Completed Projects / UPDATED: Educational protest signs (IMAGE HEAVY) on: January 08, 2010 08:25:04 PM
My second-semester theme for my English II classes is activism, so I am decorating my classroom in a 1960s/socially conscious motif. As part of that effort, I created some "protest signs" today to put on bulletin boards around the room. All of them relate to concepts or books we study in class.

Rather than bore you with the whole set, I'll just post some highlights, and you can click over to my blog -- http://redforkhippie.wordpress.com/2010/01/08/up-with-prepositions/ -- if you want to see the rest. (Apologies for the sucky photo quality; I was too lazy to get out my good camera for this, and I shot these after they were laminated, so the overhead light created a horrible glare on some of them.)

Antigone gets the Leonard Peltier treatment.

Definition of a simple sentence: 1 subject + 1 verb, the way God intended. (Look it up -- it's right there in Leviticus. I think.)  Roll Eyes

Calling out Shakespeare's corrupt King Claudius.

A little obscure, but I thought it was funny.

It's an English teacher joke. Get it? Up ... with ... prepositions ... ah, never mind.

UPDATE: I've posted action shots of the protest signs, along with some other photos from my classroom, on my blog: http://redforkhippie.wordpress.com/2010/01/13/busy-evening-2/.
17  MISCELLANEOUS TOPICS / Completed Projects / Love the one you're with (UPDATED) on: January 03, 2010 08:38:18 PM
12/4/2010 UPDATE: Dashboard pix at the bottom.

4/24/2010 UPDATE: Pix of new additions at the bottom.

This all started when I saw the 1963 Karmann Ghia of my dreams for sale at roughly half the price you'd normally pay for a Ghia of that age, in that condition.

My husband balked, so I issued an ultimatum: "Either I buy that Ghia, or my Honda gets a Janis Joplin paint job."

Here is what happened next:

I am working on a more permanent setup for mounting the curtain rods, but you get the idea. The whole thing is a work in progress; once the weather stops sucking, I will add scenes from Route 66, including a mural of the late Bob Waldmire (the real-life inspiration for Fillmore from the movie "Cars," and a dear friend of ours) cruising along in his van, possibly with my late rat terrier, Scout, riding shotgun, and a Grateful Dead quote floating in the purple clouds above them. Might put a big peace sign on the hood and a celestial scene on the roof, too.

On sunny days when I have a little time on my hands, I'll be taking a set of paintmarkers to the interior, which already has new seatcovers (I'll add photos later -- they're just plain black-and-gray seatcovers with colorful patches ironed onto them) and polar fleece sunshade cozies. I'm waiting for my friend Kelly, who runs the tie-dye shop in town, to get back from her holiday break so we can turn an old bedspread into a seatcover for the back.

If anybody's interested, I'll update with photos as I add things.

The vase is a standard New Beetle vase ($4 from the local VW dealership), a plastic electrical conduit fitting with threads at the bottom, (about 50 cents from the hardware store) and a mounting bracket from the same department (23 cents, if I remember correctly), held on with two 7x3/4 wood screws. I'll probably dress up the hardware with paintmarkers when time allows.

I still want a Ghia, but for now, I'll just take the sage advice of Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young: "If you can't be with the one you love, love the one you're with."  Cool

UPDATE: Here's the dashboard. Anybody remember "Simon in the Land of Chalk Drawings"? It was a freestanding children's show in the UK; here in the US, it appeared as a segment on Captain Kangaroo and later on Pinwheel. My mom and I always loved it. I decided the dark-colored, rough-textured dashboard was an ideal canvas for some of Simon's simple illustrations, rendered here in paint marker:

While I was at it, I touched up the peace signs I'd put on the steering wheel a few weeks ago:

I love snow days....

4/25/2010 UPDATE: I finally had decent weather and a little free time, so I did some more work to the exterior today:

It's hard to tell from this picture, but I masked off the back bumper and window and painted the hatchback with chalkboard paint so people can leave messages for me. I'll try to post an action shot after the paint is cured and seasoned so people can actually write on it.

This is a picture of the late Bob Waldmire's iconic VW Microbus, which he turned into a mobile visitors' center/art studio/home and drove up and down Route 66 for the better end of 30 years. Bob was the ultimate hippie and the primary inspiration for this project. The quote above Bob's van is from "Ripple," by the Grateful Dead. It says: "There is a road, no simple highway, between the dawn and the dark of night...." For some reason, that song started playing on an endless loop in my head when we got word that Bob was terminally ill. It really hasn't stopped, actually. Here's a closer look at the painting of Bob's van.

And a couple of shots of the quote, which I painted on there several weeks ago but forgot to post:

12/4/2010: Still a work in progress, the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcar has amassed quite a collection of tchotchkes along the way: goodies discovered in geocaches, souvenirs from various trips, rhinestones, charms, and random found items. Automotive-strength superglue -- found at a truck stop and designed to withstand the temperature extremes common to car interiors -- keeps everything in place over bumpy roads.

Here's an overview of the collection:

I have no idea why, but this summer, I became obsessed with finding a Pizza Planet alien from Toy Story. Yes, my dashboard toys are having a little plastic sushi tea party, and yes, the alien is holding a pair of chopsticks.

A slightly longer view. The little sparkly thing on the left is a trinket box I found at a local toy store. It holds geocoins, Pathtags, and other small items I don't want to lose in the car.

This is the stuff I keep to the left of the steering wheel: Care Bear and pretty stone found in geocaches; gecko plushie purchased at a coffee shop in Tucumcari, N.M.; and roadrunner purchased at a curio shop in Tucumcari.

The roadrunner charm below the lizard has sentimental value: I got it the same day I met Ryne Sandberg this summer. <3

I think the rose rock to the right of the lizard looks vaguely obscene. If I hadn't glued it to the dashboard, I probably would have used it as the centerpiece in an assemblage fashioned to resemble a sheela-na-gig....

UPDATE NUMBER UMPTEEN: I finally got a hand free to finish up the passenger's side today. As the quotation was from Richard Bach's novel Illusions: The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah, I thought it appropriate to illustrate it with the blue feather from the cover of the book:


I wanted to paint some lines from Allen Ginsberg's "Howl" on top of the roof, but it didn't really work out well (I'm too short to see what I'm doing, even with the help of a chair), so I just covered the top with vague celestial cloud patterns like the ones on the sides and called it good.
18  MISCELLANEOUS TOPICS / Completed Projects / Nice rack ... on: August 22, 2009 07:51:19 PM
... or, how my love of power tools saved taxpayers a couple hundred bucks.

I asked my principal for a literature rack the other day to display magazines and college catalogs and stuff in my classroom. He told me to find one I liked and write a proposal, and he'd use some of our federal funds to get it for me. I got online and found all sorts of racks, but the size and type I needed would have cost $200 or more. Shocked I couldn't see requesting something that expensive when I knew I could build one to my own personal specs for under $30, so I spent this afternoon playing with power tools. This is what I came up with:

I started out with two sheets of masonite pegboard (3/16" thick, 2 feet wide, 4 feet high) and five 4-foot-long 1x2s. I cut the 1x2s in half and used two of the pieces to reinforce the top of the rack, where I attached a pair of hinges. I found another 1x2 scrap in the garage and cut it in half to make two 10.5-inch strips. I screwed four of the 1x2s to it crosswise to make a little base that the finished rack could fit into so it wouldn't slip around. Then I screwed the remaining 1x2s into the pegboard to make little shelves.

Our school colors are blue and white, so when I'd finished putting it together, I took the whole thing outside and gave it a coat of primer and then a coat of bright blue acrylic spraypaint:

Side view:

After it dried, I brought it inside and used some nylon string to make little straps to keep magazines and stuff from falling off the shelves. I just ran the string through the pegboard and tied washers to the ends to keep it from pulling through the holes.

I tied one of the straps on unevenly, so I'll have to redo that, and I think it could use a couple more 1x2s on the back to keep it from warping as it stands, but other than that, it's ready to go.

Lumber ........................................ $12.71
Hardware ..................................... $ 5.35
String .......................................... $ 1.00
Paint ........................................... $ 5.98
Saving my school $175 ................... Priceless

19  MISCELLANEOUS TOPICS / Completed Projects / More classroom craftiness on: August 07, 2009 05:33:35 PM
Here are three little projects I've done for my classroom. Apologies for the lousy photo quality; I shot some of these with my cell phone because I forgot to bring my camera to school.

1. Literary pennant garland. We are doing a Route 66 theme this semester, so I'm trying to make my decorations look like stuff you'd find along the road. Here in Tulsa, we have about a two- to three-mile stretch of Route 66 that's just lined with used car lots as far as the eye can see, so I bounced off of that by getting one of those plastic pennant garlands you see around car lots ($16.99 for 140 feet at the party store) and used a Sharpie to write literary terms and their definitions on the pennants.

These serve a dual purpose: Theyre a way for the kids to learn something while staring off into space (not that any of my kids would do that, of course), and theyre a reference point for lessons when were discussing a particular term, I can say, OK somebody find the word assonance on the flags and tell us what it means. Some appear to be backwards because the pennants are translucent. I just wrote on one side of each pennant and alternated between front and back to make them accessible and easy to read from anywhere in the room.

Action shot of the pennants:

2. Bouquet o' pens. I did something similar last year and posted it, but I think this year's bouquet is more fun -- the butterflies are pens, too. Not an original idea, but a cute one that brightens up the room and reduces inadvertent pen theft.

3. Last but not least: This is a map I made for the kids to chart their grades. Its kind of a parody of the old postcard that says Here We Are on Route 66. (Click here to see the postcard: http://www.legendsofamerica.com/postcards-pictures-of/66n2-HereWeAre.jpg.) Instead of points, we are counting miles, with 2,448 miles available for the semester. The kids will keep the map in their portfolio, where they will use it to track their mileage.

Any other teachers out there with crafty classroom ideas to share?

20  MISCELLANEOUS TOPICS / Completed Projects / Greek and Latin roots Scrabble on: July 28, 2009 10:38:15 PM
Apologies to anybody who is getting tired of my endless stream of classroom crafts. The latest is a special Scrabble-type game designed to teach kids prefixes, suffixes, and Greek and Latin roots. It's just like regular Scrabble, except the board is oversized (the squares are 2x2 inches) and has more squares on it to allow for greater participation, and instead of individual letters, the tiles have syllables on them.

Simulated action shot:

It's technically not quite finished -- I still have to laminate it -- but I thought it would photograph better in its pre-laminated state, as my camera's internal flash does not like shiny surfaces. I'll take it to school and laminate it tomorrow.

Other disciplines could do something similar by taking specific vocabulary words and chopping them into prefixes, roots, and suffixes. I could see this working especially well for biology teachers -- TONS of medical/biological terms are made of of Greek and Latin word parts (micro+bio+logy, hemo+philia, etc.)

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