Showing posts with label air dry clay. Show all posts
Showing posts with label air dry clay. Show all posts

Thursday, February 16, 2017

In the Art Room: I WROTE A BOOK!




I know I've mentioned this before...but now I can finally make it official because IT'S FINISHED! Guyz, I WROTE A BOOK! 
I still cannot believe it. In fact, I don't think I'll actually believe it until I have a hard copy in my hands. The book is not due to come out until mid-May but it is available for preorder on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, IndieBound, and Indigo. It is so surreal to see my name pop up on these sites!

What will you find in this book? 52 CLAY PROJECTS, Y'ALL. Clay that does not require kiln fire. The purpose of this book is to give kids the opportunity to explore creating homemade clays, store-bought air dry clay, paper clay, oven baked clays...you name it, I tried it out in this book. Writing this book, I approached it from an art teacher standpoint: would my students enjoy these clay projects? If you recall my 1950's diner-themed art show last year, then you actually got a glimpse of several projects in the book. For our art show, we used kiln-fired clay which means that the projects in the book are versatile enough to be used with just about any kind of clay you have available. It's a book for those who wish to explore clay with children regardless as to whether or not one has a kiln!

So, how did writing this book come to be? It all started last November. A lovely editor at Quarry books reached out to me and simply asked me if I'd be interested in writing a book. She had seen this Sculpey creation and this paper clay pumpkin and was curious to know if I had more up my sleeve. I'm not even gonna lie: I was so flattered to be asked to write a book that I immediately agreed before discovering that I'd be dreaming up, writing about and taking step-by-step photos of 52 clay projects. 


It wasn't until last February that the paperwork was signed and I was on the hook to write a book. And that's when reality set in. True Confession: I'm a BIG TIME procrastinator. And there ain't no procrastinating when it comes to book writing. There were several deadlines throughout that I had to meet which was a good thing as it kept me working...but it was tough because I had to give up precious time to do so. I spent weekends and nearly the entire month of June in my pj's from morning til night sculpting in clay, snapping a picture, sculpting a little more and snapping another picture. That part was fun. It was the writing the steps out that was more tedious. I mean, I write all the time on this here blog but I write in a very casual tone. I had to sound all legit and professional and yet kid-friendly and such for the book. Thankfully, I was working with wonderful editors who helped tremendously.

June 30th was my final deadline. I made it...and might I add on June 29th. Whew! Snapping hundreds of photos and editing them, writing endless pages of copy and doing rewrites...it all made me seriously consider my life's choices. My husband's favorite question was, "Well, do you regret saying yes?" that answer varied from day to day during the course of the creating. But now I can say Nope! I don't regret it a bit! His next question is usually, "Would you write another book?" Well, I've not been asked...so I don't know my answer. 

Thank you so much for letting me share my exciting news with you. It's so nice to see all that hard work, long hours and pj'ed weekends become something tangible. You'll have to let me know if you get a copy and what you think! 

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Thursday, February 2, 2017

In the Art Room: Heart Sculpture UPDATE!

Hey, y'all! I'm poppin' in to share with you an update on a clay project I posted here not too long ago. I did this lesson with my second grade students in 3 thirty minute art classes and it was a huge hit. I decided to not have my kids create the wings because I was fearful that they would break. I was inspired (as usual) by my good buddy Laura Lohmann to create the popsicle stick hangers. Here is the video'ed lesson:
List of supplies:

* One sheet of thin aluminum foil per student.
* One large bag of Celluclay per 60-80 students. I mixed up about an orange-sized piece of clay per kiddo.
* 10 large popsicle sticks per frame. I laid them out and hot glued two horizontal sticks across the back to act as braces.
* Paint in a variety of colors.
* Twisteez wire.
* Beads....LOTS of beads!
Day 1: We began by talking about sculpture and getting a sheet of aluminum foil. Together, we slowly sculpted our foil into a heart shape. I really used my peer tutoring to friends help others who needed it. We went to our seats and added the clay to our hearts. We worked fast and furious to get it all done in 30! 
Day 2: I put the hearts in front of a fan overnight. The next day, the kids painted their hearts and their "fences" using two different colors.
 Day 3: I took my drill to school and quickly drilled two holes in the top of the "fence" frame. The kids looked at Jim Dine's hearts and painted theirs with small brushes and Q-tips. I gave very little instruction, I wanted to see what they'd create. 
 So pretty, right?! That took no time at all. Then the kids added the wire to their frames. They did this by putting the wire in one hole, twisting it like a twist tie and then loading up with beads. I have a TON of beads and I was glad to have the kids use them up. They thought that was pretty much the best thing ever. Then they twisted the other end of the wire and BOOM! Masterpiece complete. 
 Not gonna lie: this project was labor-intensive on my part. I had to glue those frames, drill the holes and then hot glue the hearts to the frames when complete. I had a helper student slap ModPodge on the hearts so the paint wouldn't chip. I really love how they turned out and the kids had so much fun. The work was worth it. I am hanging them in the hallway tomorrow!
The kids are so excited to share these with their moms and dads! I heard many conversations on color choices based on mom's favorite color. So sweet. 
In fact, this young artist redid his entire bead pattern once he found the "perfect purple for my mom"! 
IN OTHER NEWS! You can find my interview with the lovely Heidi Easley of Texas Art and Soul here! It's free, fun and fabulous. So many awesome artsy folks interviewed. Y'all go and check it out and please tell me I don't sound like a crazy person ;)
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Sunday, January 8, 2017

In the Art Room: Clay Hearts with Wings

If you are a teacher, then you've probably experienced team building activities. They can either be big hits or misses, depending on the mindset of the group. I work at a school with a very low turn over rate, a whole lot of history and love, both for the children and each other. However, knowing that we were coming back from a break of much needed time off, I knew it might be hard to feel that love when we really just want to hibernate until spring (I could simply be speaking for myself here!). Before break, I asked my amazing administration if I could possibly host a team building activity on our most recent professional development day. I was so thrilled that they agreed and even more happy with the beautiful results...
I chatted with the teachers about how we teach from our hearts and give our students wings to fly. Our students don't see us for our outward appearance but what is in our hearts. I used this sweet poem as a reference. I don't know who the author is of this poem, if anyone does, I'd love to know!
Knowing that I would have a packed house, I thought it would be best to record the process and show it on my big screen telly. Here is the video. I played it in phases, pausing it to allow the teachers time to work. It took us 45 minutes to create and clean up. Not too shabby!
I loved hosting the teachers in my art room...and they were the best of sports. I was asking them to step out of their comfort zone and they did so happily. It was so fun!
Knowing that these teachers might have a limited creative background, I wanted to remove any obstacles. I didn't want this to be a frustrating experience for them but a fun one. One where they could chat, laugh, create and forget about any stresses. 
 Here are some short cuts I provided: 

* Templates. In the video I told them that they didn't have to use them...but almost all of them did. I was glad I took the time to make them.
* Tons of Textures. I didn't want the teachers to have to wait on each other as I knew we wouldn't have time. For textures, we used doilies, placemats, burlap...anything with a beautiful raised surface.
 * Toothbrushes and water cups. Instead of teaching them the slip and score method, I provided them with a tool that would get the job done much faster. 
 * Skewers. The best and cheapest clay cutting tool!
 And, finally, I provided glaze. Yes, glaze! You can glaze on greenware (or fresh, outta the bag, clay). I plan to do a clear glaze over all of the pieces before they are fired in the kiln. 
 We had such a fun time, I'm so lucky to work with these people!
Have y'all ever done a team building activity before? Love to hear about it!

Feel free to share this project with your admin and teachers. Also, this project is age appropriate for your elementary (and up!) students as well. We just might have to make this a school-wide endeavor. I'll keep you posted. 
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Wednesday, April 13, 2016

In the Art Room: My Favorite Clay Lessons

Well, y'all, I gotta tell ya. It's been a long, exhausting but super fun and exhilarating week. Which can only mean one thing: Clay Week! I started doing a week of clay for the entire school a coupla years ago and now that we have it all down pat, we ain't never going back. The only thing I plan to change for next year: do two separate clay weeks, one in the fall and one in the spring. The kids love clay so stinkin' much that I want to give them more opportunities to explore! 

I spent this past weekend filming clay demo videos that I've been sharing with each of my classes. I did this for a couple of reasons: 1. it's so hard to demo clay and insure that each child can see. 2. I don't forget any of the details or get distracted by raised hands, talker-outers or whatever randomness that causes me to get off track and 3. the kids pay so much more attention to Television Stephens than Fur Realzies Stephens (which I take offense to but whateves). I've not added these videos to my YouTube channel yet because I'm too tired, y'all! Instead I thought I'd share with you my favorite clay lessons (with links to each lesson!) of all timez.

IN OTHER NEWS (by the way, if you know me even for a second, you know that "in other news" is my fave segue to totes off-topic-town), I've been keeping secrets from y'all. It's time I let the big ole cat outta the bag: I've been working with Quarry Books...and I'm writing a book! That's right! AND it's all about...clay! So...in case you noticed that the DIY's on this here blog have pretty much dried up to nothing that's because my weekends have been spent working on el book-o. I've been keeping it kinda on the down low because I didn't want to get too excited lest Quarry find out what a crazy I am and back outta the deal. But it would appear that they are in it to win it and so am I. I'll keep y'all posted...but I just had to share. 

AND NOW, back to my fave clay projects!
When it comes to Clay Week, I do love to have a theme. This helps with the teaching as I can reference the same visuals. It also helps when we put together the art show as there is a real cohesiveness to it all. The clay display is always in my art room. It looks so nice to see all of these thematic projects together! One of my favorite lessons for an Asian theme were these Painted Indian Elephants inspired by my art teacherin' buddy Debbie Flynt. Each one was so colorful and unique!
Another hit, especially with the kids, were these Chinese Dragons by my third grade students! So much creativity and imagination went into each and every one that this was def a kid fave. 
Pandas are so stinkin' cute. We've taken to watching Animal Planet's Panda Cam in my art room (along with puppy, kitten and otter cam...y'all, it's seriously the best thing ever). My fourth graders had a blast making these Pandas with Personality for our Asian theme. 
Because our art show is in the spring, I settled upon spring with an emphasis on Monet's Waterlilies one year! My fourth graders created these frogs with so much spunk and personality that they really were a true reflection of the young artist! 
Kindergarteners are a freakin' joy to do clay with as they absolutely love every minute of it! While we were working today, I heard so much laughter, happiness and discovery that it just made my day. We created these textured butterfly wallhangings to go along with our spring theme. 
Opening my kiln to these pretties, I remember letting out a squeal! They were so colorful and spring-like and the third grade had a blast making them. 
My favorite projects are the ones where the kids just go bananas with little details and creativity. That's what my second graders did with these cute and fun waterlilies.
One year, our theme was animals because we "sold" our creations back to our parents (for a donation) which we turned over to a no-kill humane society. This was a fun experience for the kids to see the power of being kind and art! My kindergarten and first graders created these sweet Pinch Pot Pets
My second graders used two pinch pots to create their own version of Pinch Pot(s) Pets! I love all the variety of ideas in this lesson. 
My fourth graders created these fun cat and dog sculptures. I love to encourage silliness and imagination in their works so that they really explore making a simple idea like a cat or dog their own. Again, this was a hit with kids and parents! 
Second grade created these tigers one year that double as a container. There's a pinch pot on the back of each tiger that was flipped upright to be used as a bowl! Our mascot is the tiger so this was a great tie-in with school pride as well as keeping with our animal-loving theme. 
And now for a batch of randoms. These fish were not tied to a theme but super cute. I love that clay can be a great vehicle in teaching texture. Such was really emphasized in this textured fish lesson for first grade!
Wall hangings can be a fun alternative to sculpture when working with clay. It's often difficult for the young kids like kindergarten town to create standing sculptures. So, with a focus on texture, my wee ones last year created these textured birds! This blog post has a how to video if you are interested.  
This is one of my tried and true favorite lessons that I used to do every year with second grade until I grew tired of it and moved on. I brought it back for an after school group last year and they loved their textured initial wall hanging!

What are some of your fave clay lessons? I am SO EXCITED about our clay theme this year and cannot wait to share it with you...it's gonna be the best one yet!
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Saturday, June 7, 2014

DIY: A Clay Faux-saic for the Kiln-less

 You know, there are many perks to being an art teacher. Let us count the ways, shall we? 

1. You never have to clean your room. When my art room is looking totes disastrous (which would be any day that ends in "y", ya'll, let's be honest) and a classroom teacher happens to pop in my room, I'll catch her doin' a horrified glance at my dingy tables and crusty countertops (as she slow-gulps and thinks "oh gawd, how can I get outta here before whatever is on her hands gets on my sweater set?!"), I always do the same ole "My room is such a mess today [notice I said "today" as if it's not a daily thing], I should really clean!" song and dance.  It's then that the scarred-for-life classroom teacher says the most magical words in all of art teacher land : It's an Art Room! It's supposed to look this way [spoken whilst looking for the nearest exit].

2. You got a free pass to Freak-a-Zoid. Not only do you never have to clean your room when you're an art teacher but you totes have a free pass to let that freak flag fly. Shoot, if you're doin' right, you're way beyond freak flag and have entered full-tilt bat-sh$$ crazy. Crayon shoes? Check. Sushi headband? Checkity-check. Light up dress? You mean there are other types of dresses?! Triple-check. Your freak flag just spontaneously combusted. 

3. Your professional development hours don't include Common Snore, er, Core. Naw, man! You're the art teacher! Which means you get to spend the day hangin' with other like-minded, messy-art-room, freak-flag-flying chums who get you AND, added bonus, you make stuff. Which is exactly what I spent my Saturday doin', ya'll. Makin' this here Clay Faux-saic for the Kiln-less.
It was so super easy I bet even a class room teacher could do it (you know I'm just kidding, class room teachers! This is way over your sweater-set-wearin' heads,). For this easy breezy project, you'll need to russell up the following:

* A picture frame with plexiglass or glass

* Air dry clay (we used Polyform Model Air available at your local big box craft joint)

* Glue (I like Aleene's Tacky Glue because I imagine a lady named Aleene to have a big fat beehive hairdo and tacky handmade jewelry crafted from beer bottle caps. An art teacher, of course.)

* Acrylic paint. The cheaper the better.
Now, I gotta tell you, I totally deviated from the instructor's directions. Not because she wasn't an excellent teacher and artist (her stuff is amazing, ya'll, check it here) but because I have this terrible habit when it comes to art teacher professional development classes: I have Creativity Constipation. Please tell me I'm not the only one. Some call it "slow processor"; my grandma ustah say, "Cassandra, either sh&& or get off the pot!" Normally, when I finally do come up with an idea, it's unattainably elaborate. Knowing this, I decided to keep my mosaic super simple: A Keith Haring-themed Celebration of a Messy Art Room.

 To which the instructor said at this stage of development: Oh! An Olympic theme! I love the torch, nice touch. 

(face. palm.)
 But lemme back up for a second as I believe I was supposed to be giving you some DIY directions in here. I started by pounding the daylights outta that clay until it was about cookie thickness. From there, I used a needle tool to trace around my Keith Haring-inspired dancing artist figure template. Once one was traced and the edges where smoothed, I flipped my template over and traced a second dude. With my left over bits of clay, I created the filler that you see: pencils, paint blobs, scissors, hearts, moons and rando organic shapes. By the way, that air dry stuff is not my fave. It kinda felt like I was sculpting with an uncooperative stale marshmallow. But that's par for the air-dry-clay course, I have found.
 I laid out all of my pieces directly onto the plexiglass and commenced painting.
 As soon as I was finished painting a piece, I laid it right back into it's spot. I knew that if I didn't, I'd totally forget where it went. By the way, it wasn't until I was about this far that I realized that all of my background pieces looked like Lucky Charms. They're magically delish, ya'll.
 Yay, not an Olympic Torch. 

Once the paint dried, I picked up each piece and glued it to the plexiglass frame. When that was complete, I decided that I didn't like that white "grout" background. I toyed around with a couple of color ideas for the back but in the end settled on black as it made my Lucky Charms "pop". And who wouldn't want that? So I painted a piece of paper black and inserted that into the frame.
And there you have it. I can't wait to hang this bad boy in my Disastrous "But it's an Art Room!" I think it'll go perfectly in-between those dingy tables and that crusty sink. Until next time, ya'll, fly that flag high! And, please, save that classroom teacher a heart attack and go wash your paint-stained hands. 
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