A Fashion Of Our Own

Possible Classroom Concepts: Social Studies – America (Going West, Clothing, Trades, The Fifty States), Countries Around The World (Ukraine, Mexico) [Traditional Dress]

Possible Art Concepts: Art History – Nudie Cohn, Manuel Cuevas, Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dali, Alex MacAskill, Dave Wheeler

Pattern, Commercial Art (Fashion Design), Fiber Art (embroidery, applique)

A recent trip to Nashville, TN has been inspiring my blog topics lately. I’ve already posted about it three times. I talked about the Samurai: The Way of the Warrior Exhibit here and here. I also talked about The Hatch Show Prints here. I promise you this will be my last post about that trip.

My husband and I were on our way to the samurai exhibit when a very interesting storefront caught our eye. The windows were filled with fancy western clothing and accessaries. We decided to check it out. Upon entering, we discovered that this was the storefront and workshop of  Manuel Cuevas, country western clothes designer to the stars. I recalled from last year’s trip to the Country Music Hall of Fame that Nudie Cohn was the first country western clothes designer to the stars in the 1950s and that Manual apprenticed under him. Both men were immigrants. Nudie was from the Ukraine and Manuel is from Mexico. Both their native countries have a rich background in patterned embellished traditional clothing as can be seen here and here. These designer’s inspiration is clear, but what they created was new and unique. We are a nation of immigrants and, therefore, have no traditional national costume. The closest thing we have to American traditional clothing is the plain functional cowboy outfit which has evolved into what we call country western wear today. Nudie and Manuel elevated these outfits with embroidery, applique and rhinestones. Nudie and Manuel’s customers were TV cowboys (Gene Autry and Roy Rogers), country music stars (Hank Williams, Johnny Cash and Dolly Parton) and even Rock n roll stars (Elvis and The Beatles). The list goes on and on, as can be seen on the page of Manuel’s client photos found here.

They even influenced the fine art world. Nudie and Manuel designed outfits for famous artists, Pablo Picasso and Salvador Dali. Contemporary printmaker, Alex MacAskill, was influenced by Nudie and Manuel’s outfits and made a large country western suit print. This work was recently exhibited at the Hatch Show Print’s Haley Gallery. You can see a photo of the print and a video of Alex talking about it here.

So, you’re thinking how can I use this in my curriculum?  Let’s begin with social studies ideas. In a study of cultures around the world, students could look at traditional clothing from the Ukraine, Mexico and other countries. They could locate these countries on a map. Next, broach the subject of our country not having traditional garments. Introduce country western ware. What do they think of this as our traditional costumes? If they could design a national costume, what would it include and why? Would it be patriotic like Uncle Sam wears or Kellyanne Conway wore to Trump’s inauguration? Or might it be sports related?

In a career unit, students could study the work of Nudie and Manuel. You could also introduce Dave Wheeler, a boot maker,  who creates one of a kind cowboy boots. The students could make some designs of their own. I love how Mini Matisse blogger, Mrs. Hahn, provides choices in her art career fashion design unit. The students end up exploring even more careers (Fashion Show Organizer, Models, Fashion photographer). You can find that post  here. I talked about fashion design here. Find a boot designing lesson here.

Tailoring and boot making are also trades which are quickly disappearing in our modern age. Thankfully, some artisans are carrying on the tradition. Manuel is doing his part to perpetuate his craft by teaching apprentices from fashion design programs. Texas artist, Kathie Sever, creates embroidered country western wear a piece at a time. See some examples of her work here. Hatch Show Prints is carrying on the printmaking trade. Please help to keep these processes alive by including them in a colonial America  or industrial revolution unit in your classroom.

Manuel also did a ten year project where he created a jacket to represent each of the fifty states, to honor his adopted homeland. He has them on display in the storefront  portion of his workshop. They are amazing. Being Maryland natives, we were amazed at how many images Manuel manages to place on our state’s jacket. So many!!!!! Check out some of the state jackets here. Wouldn’t it be a great alternative, to design a state jacket, in lieu of a written state report? Or students could design a jacket and then write a short explanation about the images the student included and why.

Students won’t soon forget any of the projects mentioned above (I daresay including your classroom content.). So, why not give one a try? What do you think? I’d love to hear from you. Simply click on the title of this post and scroll down to the comment section.

If you like what you’ve seen here, please feel free to toss me a “like” or better still become a follower.

I hope to see you again real soon!

International Women’s Day

Possible Classroom Concepts: Social Studies – Women’s History, Jobs/Careers

Science – (Insect Life Cycle, Spiders)

Possible Art Concepts: Art History – Frida Kahlo, Lina Bo Bardi, Adelaide Labille Guiard, Artemisia Gentileschi, Rosa Bonhheur, Elisabeth Vigee-LeBrun, Sibylla Merian, Louise Bourgeois

Painters, Art Careers (Architect, Commercial Artist, Portrait Painter, Teacher, Scientific Illustrator, Animator)

Sibylla Merian          Louise Bourgeois          Elisabeth Vigee-LeBrun

Yesterday for International Women’s Day Google Doodle  artist, Olivia Huynh, highlighted thirteen international women who’ve made a difference in the world. I was delighted to see two artists featured among the thirteen. The doodle highlighted Mexican painter,  Frida Kahlo and Italian/ Brazilian architect, Lina Bo Bard. It was also Huynh’s wish that people might become curious about these women and possibly share women who have influenced them.

I’d like to talk about some international women artists who have influenced and inspired me. In the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s family guide entitled, “Six Women, Six Stories”, three international artists are highlighted. Adelaide Labille Guiard was a French portrait painter. Artemisia Gentileschi was an Italian painter who even created paintings for the king of Spain. French artist, Rosa Bonhheur, is one of the best animal painters of all time.  This National Gallery of Art Inside Scoop article talks about Elisabeth Vigee-LeBrun. She was France’s most famous portrait painter of her time who also painted Marie Antionette. Maria Sibylla Merian was a German naturalist and scientific illustrator who discovered the life cycle of butterflies and other insects. Another famous German artist is Lotte Reiniger, an early animator who used silhouettes. She created the very first feature length animated film. Yes, it was not Walt Disney. I talk about her in more depth in this post. Last but not least, French/ American sculptor, Louise Bourgeois who is famous for her spider sculptures of all sizes. I talk about her in this post.

In the spirit of sharing, I hope during March, Women’s History Month, you’ll share one or more of these amazing women with your class.

Who are your women inspirations and how have you shared them with your classes? I would love to hear. Simply click on the title of this post and scroll down to the comment section. Also, if you like what you’ve seen here, please consider following me.

Hope to see you again soon!

Hatch Time!

Possible Classroom Concepts: Social Studies – History of Communication (Written), Inventions (Printing Press), Colonial Times

Language Arts – Literature, Onomatopoeia

Possible Art Concepts: Art History – Leonardo da Vinci, Roy Lichtenstein

Commercial Art (Poster Art), Medium (Printmaking)


 Spring is fast approaching. The title, “Hatch Time!”, probably brings to mind warmer weather and baby birds, but in actuality I’m thinking Hatch Show Print.  Being an ex-printmaker on a trip to Nashville, I just had to check out this letterpress printing establishment. The Hatch family started printing in Nashville in 1879. Their first posters were created to advertise local events (the circus, vaudeville shows, etc) and were plastered on buildings and barns all over town. The first wanted posters were also created using this printing method. The original movable type printing press was invented way back in 1454 Germany by Johannes Gutenberg. Hatch printers use many different wooden letter fonts and hand carved images in a modernized version of Gutenberg’s press. To understand this printing process better, check out this  Sawtooth Printing Shop Field Trip video  recently produced by my favorite blogger, Cassie Stephens. Thanks Cassie, perfect timing! With less demand for flyer type posters in this modern age, Hatch Show Print has adapted and done things like produce posters for each Ryman Theater (“Home of the Grand Ole Opry”) performance. These posters are now bought as works of art and end up framed in people’s homes. If you happen to be studying Colonial times, you might use this video about colonial printing presses.

For literature time, you may like to read Achoo! Bang! Crash!: The Noisy Alphabet  by Ross McDonald to your class. All the letters for the book are printed on a press like Hatch Show Print uses. All the illustrations are set back in the late 1800s. Plus, all the words are onomatopoeia. Lots of “Bang!” for your buck. Check it out. You won’t be disappointed.  A side note: Pop artist, Roy Lichtenstein, used onomatopoeia words in some of his paintings. He was emulating offset printing, which replaced letterpress printing. Jamestown Elementary Art Blog has a Lichtenstein powerpoint slide show and onomatopoeia lesson plan that can be found here

If you wish to print some phrases or sayings, I love this lesson on Thomas Elementary Art, The Blog! The only drawback for a classroom teacher is access to brayers and ink. If you really want to do this project and have some large stamp pads, you could tap the stamp pads over and over onto the block. Then, simply place a sheet of paper on top and gently massage the back of the paper. You can construct the letters out of oaktag paper using this letter cutting chart. For the backwards and reverse problem, simply arrange the letters normally. When you have them the way you want them, place dots of glue all over the surface of each letter. Then, gently place your piece of chip board on top, and massage the the back. When you lift the chip board, the letters will be backwards and reverse, or a mirror image. Speaking of mirror images, did you know that Leonardo da Vinci wrote all his journal entries in mirror image? He was a genius and knew a lot of things that people of the time did not. In one entry he wrote, “The sun does not move.”  The people of that time believed the sun and moon circled the earth. He knew otherwise. So, for his own protection, he wrote all his journal entries backward and reversed.

If the above lesson is just too much, you could also simply print phrases and sayings using letter and picture stamps you have around your house and classroom.  I know that I have quite a variety. You probably do also. Students could create a poster portrait or animal report with letters and images put together jigsaw style like Hatch Show Print does. Like this:


I’m so pleased that some traditional printmaking is alive and  well in our world. I hope you can find a way to share this rich history with your class. What do you think?  I’d love to hear from you. Simply click on the title of this post and scroll down to the comment section at the bottom.

Hope to see you again real soon!