Showing posts with label clay projects for kids. Show all posts
Showing posts with label clay projects for kids. 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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Saturday, April 4, 2015

What the Art Teacher Wore #135

Retro-Lovin' Monday: So my time in NOLA may or may not have involved some heavy credit card exercising on Magazine. That street was just full of block after block of shopper's delights. My fave? Trashy Diva (thank you, Annette, for taking me!). I walked right out with this dress and a hat to match! shoes: vintage Fluevogs; fishnets: Target

How are all y'all? If you celebrate Easter, I hope you've had a delightful one. If you're experiencing spring, I hope you've had time to absorb some vitamin D. And if you're anything like me, you waited entirely too long to cut your grass and you've spent your weekend tossing grass clippings into your neighbor's yard (oh! I kid! Ish!). Seriously, y'all. I hope you are fab.

I thought I'd share with ya this week a lil bit of What I Wore and What Went Down in Art Teacherin'ville. It's been a wild week. I taught four awesome kindergarten classes in one day and lived to tell about it; I endured an hour long stint in the pie-in-yo-face booth at the school carnival and I hosted two lovely art teachers from Chicago (hi, Michelle and Pat!). I'm so thankful for the extra day to recoup. 

I'll be back with you this week to share my 10 Exciting Tips to Teaching Vocabulary in the Art Room (brace yourselves, y'all!) as well as a DIY (lawd, I hope.). Until then, I do hope your week is a magical My-Lil-Pony one! 
And just like that, I now have a thing for hats. I've actually had it in my mind to start creating hats to go with my outfits for some time. I'm excited to say that me and a coupla other art teacherin' buddies are taking a hat making class at the end of this month. I'm already dreaming up ideas.
Totally Pencilly Tuesday: With all of our snow days this year (a glorious 10 days that we don't have to make up!), I was able to stitch up so many art teacherin' dresses! The prob? I've not had a chance to wear 'em to school. So this lil number complete with my first bolero made it's debut this week. dress: DIY, details here; turquoise tights: Target; florescent fishnets: Free! I found them in our teacher's lounge! Our local grocery store donates items that don't sell and these were Halloween has-beens; flats: dunno; "artsy" necklace: crafted from Scrabble tiles by my blogger buddy Phyl
So way back in Feb I shared this post with y'all. Every student in my school created a wee lil 3" X 3" heart to be used for a school wide "Our School has Heart!" mural. Unfortunately our mountain of snow days (and my intense case of the lazy-es) prevented me from gluing down all these masterpieces in a timely fashion. This week, I did make some progress and get one portion of the mural complete! It's my goal to finish off the rest on Monday and have it up by the end of the week. So stay tuned, kids!
Gentlemen, Start Your Crayons Wednesday: The temps are getting warmer here in Tennessee and I gotta tell ya, I don't trust 'em. Because every spring I've lived here, it's like clockwork: lovely flower-planting weather then BOOM! a hard flower-freezing night. So I'm still clutching to my sweaters until the bitter mid-April end. needle-felted crayon sweater: DIY, here; dress: Anthro; tights: Target; crayon pumps: DIY here
The week before my spring break was Clay Week (or Cray Week as I dubbed it). Now that we're back, my kindergarteners began the finishing process for their clay birds. We did that whole oil pastel/watered down India ink method and I was super stoked to see the result. This coming week, the kinder-kids will be adding legs to their feathered friends. I'll be sharing a series of clay posts (with video clips!) very soon. 
A Thursday that's my Friday!: Gotta love a short week, y'all. Especially one that involves a full moon, an upcoming holiday AND a school carnival event. I mean, whut are we, nutz?! I do believe if we didn't have Friday off, an "emotionally unstable day" woulda been in order. school supply dress: DIY here; crinoline: Amazon; tights: Target; shoes: Fluevog
The parent volunteers at my school do this school carnival every year and it's simply amazing. I'm very fortunate to teach children whose parents are so involved in their education. As a way to say thanks, I opted to go a full hour in the pie-in-the-face booth. And, as much as I love those parents and their kids, I dunno if I can handle that scandal again. I've had the smell of curdled milk up my nose all weekend long!
A Good Friday for Brunching and Shopping: Ah, a glorious day to catch up with a good friend over brunch and money-spending. I'm proud to say that one trip to Anthropologie involved the purchase of a $9 sweater (like, whuh?!). My fave part of the day was running into so many buddies who were also out enjoying their time off even if we were in the midst of a tornado warning (it's spring in the South...when are we NOT about to get swept away to Oz?). dress: vintage find in NOLA; necklace: Franklin farmer's market; flower hair clip: made by me
I love mail. And I really love getting sweet and thoughtful gifties in the mail. My sweet Aunt Kimmy and Uncle Keith sent these bad boys my way. I love 'em so! I can't wait to wear 'em with this number
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Monday, June 9, 2014

In the Art Room: A Pinch Pot Mascot

Well, kids, as you read this, I'm heading out the door and takin' a vacay to charming Charleston with a coupla muthahs. That'd be my dear, albeit totally crazy, mother and my mother-in-law (who will be in need of your prayers as she contends with a double dose of deranged). If one of us doesn't make it back, it'll be my mom who I'll prolly leave tied to a chair in the hotel room with tape over her mouth (true story: in elementary school, my mom talked so much the teacher resorted to taping her mouth closed. She promptly chewed through the tape and commenced chatting. This is what I'll be dealing with). Wish me luck, kids!

In the meantime, I thought I'd share with you these here 2nd grade Pinch Pot Tigers! At my school, the tiger is our mascot so the kids were totally excited to bring the Johnson Tiger to life. Some kids went the traditional Bengal orange and black tiger route...
While others created a white tiger. Did you know that the white of the tiger's fur is a recessive gene? Some mistake them for being albino but that's not so. Many white tigers are bred but, because there are so few of them, there is usually inbreeding. This results in all sorts of birth defects and also has scientists considering renaming the White Tiger the Kentucky Tiger (so sorry, Kentucky friends. That was a low [although hilarious, right?!] blow).
The kids loved creating these tigers. I was so thrilled to see them painstakingly paint those wee tiger faces. That's when you know they are in love with their project, when they put forth so much effort. 
So just how'd they do it? Well, we started out with these supplies:

* Low-fire clay (I'm a Cone 06 gal, myself)

* Toothbrush (preferably your mom's or mother-in-laws, depending on who you're ticked at)

* A skewer

* Aqua

* A clay mat. Canvas works great.

To create these bad boys, we used 2-3 thirty minute classes. On the first day, we made a pinch pot and tiger legs. For the pot, I tell the kids to begin by rolling a sphere and placing it in the palm of your hand. Notice that the sphere isn't perfect. I try to discourage the kids from rolling a perfect sphere because they will do it FOREVER thus drying out their clay and using up precious art time.
Next up: stick your thumb in that sphere of clay until it looks as though your thumb has an afro. Do not puncture your thumb all the way through your clay as that would result in a clay donut. And don't nobody like clay donuts. They's nasty.
Pop that thumb out and use your pinching fingers to evenly pinch the sides of your pot. It should be of cookie-thickness. Once completed, the kids are given another piece of clay. For this, they'll divide the clay in half and roll two coils that are about 4" in length. I have rulers out on the tables for this reason. Once complete, the kids stack their pot onto their coils, wrap it in a damp paper towel and put it in a labeled zip lock bag until next class.
The following class, we chat about making tiger faces. I don't like to tell the kids an exact way of creating a face so we go through many options. When working with clay, I like to stress that you can make anything outta clay with a sphere, a slab or a coil. We chat about the different features a tiger might have and what, out of those three things, we might use to create them.

When demoing, I always stress that you gotta slip and score. I have the kids use the toothbrush and that cup of water for this purpose. After this chat, the kids work on creating the heads. Because of the detail they like to create, most take the entire time making that clay head. Once finished, it gets placed in the zip lock bag along with the pinch pot and coils.
This young artist didn't like my cartoon-y version of a tiger. I had a buncha tiger photos on display as well as one pulled up on my brand new big screen T.V. (ya'll, this thing makes me feel like I'm in a sports bar, it's that huge). I love how she created a three-dimensional muzzle for her tiger and that painting job, gah! I love my 2nd graders. 
On the final day, we toothbrushed and added the heads and legs. Now, I'm not gonna lie, those legs had been in that zip lock bag for days. So they were a little dried out and noncooperative. To solve that, some kids opted to have their tigers laying down (as the clay was too weak to support the pinch pot) while others crumpled up newspaper and used that to prop up the tiger's legs. 
After the legs and head were attached, some kids created a tail. I had to really encourage them to make strong thick tails that did not protrude. So most rolled a coil for the tail and then turned that into a spiral before attaching to the pot. If the kids happened to have extra time when finished, I told 'em that they could create something to go along with their tiger. However, I reminded them that I'd only fire it if they made sure to slip and score. 

This young artist created a baby tiger to accompany the mama. 
And this one decided to have a mouse riding on the back of the tiger.
Another Kentucky Tiger.
Once the tigers were complete, the kids glazed then with Mayco's Stroke and Coat. It's my fave as the colors are just perfect. The kids spent an art class with the World's Smallest Paint Brushes to create these lovelies. When it comes to glazing, I only have two rules: Don't Glaze the Bottom (because the glaze, when melted, will adhere to the kiln shelf) and Don't Layer Three Zillion Different Colors of Glaze as this will result in an unappealing mix of muddy colors once fired. 

And there you have it, friends! A Pinch Pot Mascot that's both functional ("oh, my tiger can hold my earrings!") and adorbs. Until next time, wish me luck with those mothers and have yourself a great week, ya'll!
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Sunday, December 15, 2013

In the Art Room // What the Art Teacher Wore #83

Dress Like a Tacky Christmas Tree Monday: When I was a kid, my parents allowed me to have a mini-Christmas tree in my room to decorate as I saw fit and it was just about the tackiest thing ever. When I ran outta real ornaments, I crafted some with construction paper and copious amounts of glitter. When I tired of that, I took to filling in the gaps with stuffed animals (who never looked to thrilled to have fake pine needles stickin' 'em in the back, go figure). It was bright, shiny and totes tacky. Kinda like Monday's outfit. sweater: ebay; top, tights: Target; necklace, belt, skirt: thrifted; shoes: Anthro
Hey, guys. Thank you so much for your kind and thoughtful words this past week. My sweet and caring father-in-law will be greatly missed by each and every person that had the pleasure to meet him. I have so many happy memories of him. I am keeping those at the forefront of my mind.

This post was actually written the week before last. After some time away from school, I'm excited to go back (even if it is for only 4.25 days), see the kids and attempt to pick up where we left off. I've got a couple of new routines I've been test-running in the art room that I hope to share with you later this week. Oh! And a couple DIY's up my wannabe-Anthropologie sleeve.

Until next time, squeeze your loved ones. I'll chat with you soon.
All my students, pre-K on up to 4th grade-land spent one 1/2 hour art class creating clay star ornaments. Our mission: to gift them to our parents in exchange for the gift of one dollar. The children are bringing that dollar back to the art room. Our service project this year is to help our friends in Asia (as that's the continent we are traveling this year), particularly those in the Philippines who were so badly effected by Typhoon Haiyan. What warms my heart the most about this project so far are the dollars coming in from the children themselves.
This is our third year to do a service oriented project. Our first year, we did a project very similar to Empty Bowls and donated the proceedings to a local homeless shelter. Last year, we created ceramic animals and "sold" them back to our parents with the proceeds going to a local no-kill animal shelter. This year, I wanted something quick and easy we could bust out in one class. So now my room is currently filled with these stars. I'll keep you posted on the progress.
Christmas Tree Skirt Tuesday: 'kay, I might have a slight addiction to making these skirts. I finished my second this weekend and now I find myself hunting them down at the thrift stores. Somebody stop me. It's not like I don't have an Everst-sized mountain of unfinished projects to tackle. blouse: Old Navy; tree skirt to lady skirt: DIY post here; tights: Target?; shoes: thrifted, Crocs
Our awesome PE teachers have the kids skating this week. After a super brief chat about gesture drawing, I took my third and fourth grade students down to the gym armed with clipboards, newsprint, charcoal sticks (which they thought was just about the coolest thing ever after I told them that I didn't use such an art supply until college) and chamois clothes. They were to fill three pages with as many sketches as they could in the 15 minutes that they had.
My Favorite Christmas Colors Wednesday: These colors remind of me of 1950's kind of Christmas decor which would be my fave on the planet. In fact, I'm so excited that this year I have out the aluminum tree (with a rotating color wheel light!) my mom bought for me last Christmas. Which is kinda funny cuz she just called me yesterday to tell me she bought me another of those trees with another rotating light. Looks like my mom is a hoarder enabler. Which is why I love her so. cuckoo clock dress: DIY dress here; sweater and tights: Target
Most of the kids really took to the gesture drawing. However, some of my more detail-oriented drawers (which is me) were stumped. They simply stared at the skaters zipping by in complete confusion as to how they were to make a "good" drawing. I reminded them that we were simply to show movement in our drawings and that was all. And to stop thinking so hard and just draw. Draw, draw and draw. Some had the bright idea to sketch the legs of one skater and after they zipped by, add the torso of another and the arms of yet another. This gave them a little of a montage sketch but at least is solved the problem of just having floating body parts.






Candy Stripes Thursday: Now I admit I have entirely too much clothing (seriously, I get asked a lot about my closet..it's time for a post!). But one way I've found to make my dresses work summer and winter duty is to simply place a sweater over 'em. This is a sleeveless summer dress that I topped with a thrifted sweater. sweater and shoe clips: vintage, thrifted; dress: European vacation score; tights: Target?; boots: Lucky Brand, found at Marshall's; belt: Pin Up Girl Clothing

Once the got the hang of it, they were on a roll...pun intended. And I could tell they enjoyed it. In fact, one of the fourth graders said, "Mrs. Stephens, we never leave the art room!" I could tell just doing something a little different felt like an adventure...which is what art is always supposed to feel like, right?
Feelin' Mad Men-esque Friday: The weather here has been completely bonkers. One day, I swear it was 75 degrees and the next 30! I basically lived in this poncho on Friday which isn't an easy thing to do as I felt like I had bat wings all day. Which I kinda do and totally need to bust out my Jane Fonda tapes. Cuz, yes, I have them and yes, I still have a VCR. I'm retro, ya'll. poncho and dress: vintage, thrifted; tights: Target; shoes: Dolls by Nina

Stay tuned to what becomes of our sketches. I'm pretty excited to share the progress with you!
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Wednesday, August 28, 2013

DIY: Embossed Ceramicness

So I might be having a little bit of a love affair with pale-sky-aqua blue, faded-rose pink and, well,  pastels in general. Proof of such here and here.
Sometimes when people are inclined to talk to me (which I don't recommend to the easily offended, annoyed or grossed out by stories involving pants wetting accidents and pee puddles [which, btw, is up next on this blog post menu]), they ask me stuff. Stuff that leads me to believe that they must read my blog and assume the following:

1. That I make stuff all the freaking time.

2.  That I also dress like a moron all the freaking time.

One of these things is as false as Miley Cyrus virginity rumors. Can you guess which?

If you guessed the first then, ding-ding-ding!, you are correct! Congratulations! You win absolutely nothing but my utter respect at your guessing skillz. Really. I mean, you should consider joining the circus and being one of those weight-guessing people. I hear the pay is incredible. 

Which means the crazy notion that I'm a making-stuff-maniac is totes false, ya'll. Truth be told, I spend entirely too much of my life online googling things like "dorky art teacher clothes" (can you guess whose mug pops up first? Use those expert guessing skills of yours...) and chatting up long lost buddies on Facebook. Which is what I was doing last night when a class photo from elementary school was posted. Next thing I know, it's past midnight and I've been reminiscing about favorite teachers and crazy classmate antics with people I've not spoken to since the 5th grade. Time well spent for sure. Meanwhile, my sewing projects/unglazed ceramic pieces/half finished paintings of nude leprechauns (just seeing if you were paying attention) are left collecting dust. Das my life for realz, ya'll.
I've also got this terrible habit of starting something and then callin' it quits midway through. Sometimes I return to said DIY -n- Ditch but it's often weeks, nay, months later. Case in point: my Embossed Ceramicness. Last November I attended the annual state art conference in the town of Gatlinburg, Tennessee where the allure of the airbrushed t-shirt never dies. I took a course that involved this pretty sweet process of using your printing block as a ceramic embosser. I began by creating the above masterpiece.
And transferring the design to my linoleum block. This was done by scribbling on the back of my drawing, taping the drawing to my block and then going back over my pencil lines. At this point the carving commenced.
This squirrel-tastic block was carved by my awesome art teacher buddy Mallory. One of the things I love about attending these workshops is you get to hang out with your favorite artsy friends. And you make so many new buddies who do a much better job at commiserating about life in the art room than, well, your hubs. Cuz new art teacher friends don't get that glazed-over "is this gonna be another kid peeing themselves story?!" look like that dude who lives in my house and breathes my air. Nay (yeah, I just used that word twice in one post like a boss), new artsy buddies slap you a high five and commend you for your tales of how you turned lemons into lemonade. Or, rather, puddles of pee into a "Pond, kids! Don't step in the pond because you don't want to get wet!" (this actually happened...which was met with a "Yeah, cuz that pond is PEE!" by a dear kindergartener).
One friend I made at an art conference years ago has since become a dear friend of mine. Her name is Debbie and she carved this block which I'm thrilled to say I have a ceramic copy of. I can't wait to get it glazed and out for Halloween. I'll be sure to share it with you soonish.
Okay, where was I? Ah, yes, the carved block. Is it any wonder I don't finish much? I can't even stay focused on one lil blog post! Once the carving was finished, a slab of clay was placed over it. That was either rolled out or run through a slab roller. From there we had the option of turning our embossed piece into a vase, a mug or a slab. I did a little of each.
And that was way the flip back in November. It wasn't until recently that I busted out the glaze and forced myself to finish these pieces. The completed slab in the top photo was mounted onto a wooden flower box.
While these lovelies have found their home at my front door. Finally. After months of hanging out in the Land of Forgotten DIY's, they are now complete. Who woulda ever guessed I'd get 'em done?! Well, you, of course. What with your intuitive guessing skills and all.

Until next time, friends, STAY AWAY FROM YELLOW PUDDLES! 
And have a great holiday weekend.
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