Frida Fan

Being Art

Frida Kahlo is one of my favourite artists and personalities to dress up as. I have dawned the unibrow for Cinco de Mayo parties in the past but found it much more rewarding using the costume as a tool to teach rather than use it to down Coronas.


Before getting into the education side of things, here is a recap of the Frida costume and it’s evolution from 2012 – 2015.


Cinco de Mayo 2012, Shanghai, China


Cinco de Mayo 2013, Shanghai, China


Cinco de Mayo 2015, Hong Kong, China

Cinco de Mayo 2016, Hong Kong, China

Although I definitely crushed some guac while dressed like the holy unibrowed-one, I have also used her as inspiration to teach self-portaiture, symmetry, collage and expression. Here is the lesson I did with my upper primary students.

Students began by looking at the self portraits of many artists and learned the difference between a portrait and self portraits. We then narrowed it down to discuss the components of Frida Kahlo’s portraits as she portrayed aspects of her life and how she felt in her paintings which the student who do in their artwork.

They then sketched a self-portrait in pencil using a hand mirror to observe their features. After outlining them in black marker, students coloured them in with colours pencils and began creating a collaged background that expressed who they are as a person or how they felt when they created the self-portrait.

The last words that Frida ever uttered were, ‘I hope the exit is joyful and that I never return.’ Sorry Frida, but I plan to bring you back every year. However, I will make sure it is to tell you story of pain, passion and painting. until next year Frida, adios chica!

DIY Ghostbusters & Stay Puft Marshmallow Man Costume

Being Art

When I was notified that my friend’s birthday was 80’s themed, I immediately started plotting and planning costumes for it. I have always wanted to pull off a Ghostbuster themed couples costume and now I had the perfect opportunity. My husband as Venken, and me as the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man. My poor husband. He just wanted me to be a sexy aerobics instructor or Madonna dressed like a virgin, but I was having none of it!


I began the marshmallow head by shaping chicken wire for the head and hat. I figured out that I needed gloves while doing this only after I had suffered several chicken-like scratches. Ugh.

I used wire to bind and shape the structure before paper machéing the entire thing. Two layers of paper gave it enough strength for the final form.

I used felt to create the bib as well as the band around the hat, the ball on the top and the ribbon hanging down. For the STAY PUFT writing I simply used acrylic paint on the felt which worked well. I hot glued a headband on the roof of the structure so it would stay stable on my head. Lastly, I added detail to the face.

For the Ghosterbusters costume I created the logo out of felt and sewed it onto a khaki shirt and paired that with khaki pants and hiking boots. I did make one more and added it to my bathing suit to give a teaser to our costume during the day at the pool.

For the backpack I used just that, a backpack as a frame and then constructed a box that fitted over it. To create the shape of the box, I taped a few together, paper machéd it and then painted on details. I then used a vacuum hose as the busting gun.

The googles were the easiest. I glued two toilet paper tubes to a pair of science googles, paper mashed around the area where they joined and then painted them.

It was an amazing weekend and I have extreme satisfaction in accomplishing a costume I have always wanted to do. Thankfully the marshmallow head survived and will live to see another day because bustin’ makes me feel good!


Fortune Cookie Costume

Being Art

Every year I attend my husband’s company dinner which always has a fancy dress theme. In 2014 it was ‘Circus’ so we went as strong men. Last year the theme was ‘Fairy Tale’ and we went as the Queen of Hearts and a playing card. Both themes were broad and general enough to allow for a lot of different ideas and DIY opportunities. Well, not this year!

This year the theme is ‘Asian Animation’. The characters are so specific, the outfits so scandalous and not to mention I would have to put on my Asian face which is not politically correct. So, I went with the Asian element of the theme and created fortune cookie costumes for us.

I began with the cookie head dress which I made out of two pieces of felt cut into the shape of the cookie, sewed them together and then turned them inside out. I left a few small holes so I could stuff them with padding. I then sealed the open seams with hot glue and glued the entire thing to a headband.

For the fortune, I simply took a long piece of fabric, cut a hole in the middle, wrote out a quote in pencil before going over it with acrylic paint. I wanted the fortune to read, ‘I see a better theme in your future’ but instead I played it safe, and wrote ‘A thrilling time is in your future’ and ‘Good fortune to you’. For under garments, we wore white T-shirts and white pants.

One of the fortune cookies made it home with us and one went missing in action. I would like to think that the other one was cracked open and eaten by Ryu from Street Fighter. However, two plastic ninja swords did make it home, so in the end maybe this year’s theme wasn’t so bad after all.

The Bucket Costume

Being Art

It all started in the fall of 2012. Living in Shanghai and having cheap trimmings and materials at my finger tips, I set out to make an epic halloween costume. Behold, the Spaghetti and Meatball Costume.


The concept and execution are simple but the effect is sensational if I may say so myself. A bucket or tub gives you dimension as well as a place to store your stuff for the night. For this particular costume, I also used a canvas which I painted black to give the illusion of a table. This also allowed for more props to be glued on top for more detail. This same idea was also used for my 2014 halloween costume, Bowl of Mac ‘n Cheese.


In other adaptations, only a bucket was used which acted more like a corset, as in the Colonel Sanders Costume and Tea Cup Costume. All structures have a slit int he back where you get in and out of. However, the canvases can be stepped into and sit snuggly on the hips. Usually I bring along some clear packaging tape to seal the seam.

IMG_7097Tea Cup Costume_1

I have tackled other materials to achieve a similar look. For the Martini Glass Costume, I used two sheets of plastic and for the Bonfire Costume I cut a piece of foam board into a circle and then paper machéd rocks around the opening in the centre.

Martini Costume_4thumb_IMG_0587_1024

Note that none of these costumes work without props. From a paper machéd drumstick to a marshmallow head piece, the extra details are key to make the costume complete.

The Art Teacher’s Uniform

Being Art

Art teachers owe it to their students to put some pattern, colour and flare into their school attire. My spirit guide, Cassie Stephens, exemplifies this. I came across Cassie’s Blog and Pinterest boards a year ago and have been inspired ever since. Check out ‘what I wore’ on her blog to see the awesomeness!

Building an arsenal of art teacher clothing will take years and necessary sewing skills, but in the meantime I have found my art teacher uniform. Reluctant to wear my normal clothes to work as they will be ruined, I have purchased thirty of the same dress but in different colours and patterns. These dresses are purchased at a no-name shop down the street from me and cost approximately $4 USD each. I accessorise with headbands and big earrings, and in winter I pair them with tights, boots, cardigans and scarves.


Until I have a corresponding outfit that relates to each and every lesson I teach (my dream), these convienent one-size fits all dresses do the trick for now.