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!

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. 

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

In the Art Room: The Art Show, Part 2

 It's kinda funny to think that just a couple weeks ago, my school's hallways looked like this. Of course, now that school's out, the halls resemble some sort of institution (which, let's be honest, those last couple of weeks, we coulda all be institutionalized. The kids, the teachers, shoot even the class pets, were all a wee bit bonkers.) As I mentioned in my last art show post, all artwork that all students have created all year is hung for this show which is like hundreds of masterpieces. The World's Most Amazing Parental Volunteers hang everie-thang, can you believe that? I'm a lucky girl, this I know.

In my last art show post, I shared with ya'll the work of the wee ones in kindergarten through 2nd grade. I've yet to share with you the clay projects that were also displayed at the art show because I'm slowly putting together the how-to posts on those babies. When that's done, I'll wrap up this art show series. Oh! And if you wanna see some art shows of the past, you can see last year's show here and here.

And now, without further jibber-jabber, I present to you the masterpieces of 3rd and 4th grade with loads of linky-loos to lessons...
 For the art show, the parent volunteers hang the work outside the classroom. I don't give any directions on how to hang...just cross your fingers and use enough sticky tack to make it stay. I love how each volunteer hangs the work differently.
 In third grade, we started out the year learning about Norway and Vikings. My amazing student teacher Rebecca had just returned from a trip to Norway and this was a lesson created by her (and influenced by Painted Paper!). I wrote up a blog post all about Rebecca's adventures and this lesson here.
 My goal for this past school year was to create a mural with each grade level. I only partially achieved that goal (my younger kiddos did a collaborative mural to be shared in an upcoming post). My 3rd grade created a Magritte-inspired mural that proved to be the art project that just kept on giving. You can see examples of that in the work at the bottom of this photo.
 Here's one part of the Magritte project with tissue paper collaged landscape backgrounds.

This enormous beast of a mural hangs right outside of my art room. I think it's there to stay a while, I love seeing it when I walk out of my art room. The details of creating this mural are here.
 The paper we used to create the birds for the mural and our collage landscapes were so cool we decided to use them in yet another Magritte-y project. Final installment of Magritte series here.

 After all that Viking and Magritte-ness, I introduced the kids to the world of Asian art with a heavy dose of Ming vases and cherry blossom trees.
 This was a super fun lesson that incorporated so many thing. A review of watercolor techniques, symmetrical vase design, drawing a narrative, shading/shadow making and new ink painting methods. Full lesson here.

Both 3rd and 4th grade were introduced to Chinese calligraphy. We learned to grind out own ink and paint with sumi-e bamboo brushes. This was a big hit and we seriously painted tons of these characters. After a couple of classes doing that, the kids picked their fave to mount, label and frame.
 My 4th grade this year was like a dream group. We had such a good thing going, as they loved being in art as much as I did having them. Which was a bit of a problem as I was therefore always late sending them back to class. Seeing them go at the end of this school year was very hard for me, sniff. I'll miss them so much!
They kicked off the start of this school year creating this huge mural for a canned food drive. Full details here.
 I think this Viking project was one of my favorite lessons this year. I simply love all the watercolor techniques that the kids incorporated into their work. I will definitely be doing a redo of this here lesson in the future (I have a bad habit of doing a lesson only once as I get a little bored with repeats).
 Again, another lesson with many layers of stuff taught. It's like an onion, this project. Without the onion breath.
 These guys also did some Chinese calligraphy. However, theirs included a hanger with Sculptey beads on the end of a wooden dowel and a red stamp.
 Like with the wee ones, I also have these kids write an artist biography. These are slightly different though in that they are to also have friends add comments about them. I'll share more details about those bios in an upcoming post (I keep saying that, I hope I can keep up with all this "up-coming" posting!).
 When learning about Asia, we did some Suminigashi which is Japanese paper marbling. Details here.
 When I ran outta paper marbling supplies mid-way through the lesson (don't you hate that?! Argh!) I did a quick switch to chalk marbling...which I kinda liked even better!
 With those stars we used in the chalk stenciling, we created some fun narrative collages.
 Near the end of the school year, we put our sumi-e painting techniques to good use with these paintings. Students could create either bamboo, cherry blossom or pine trees after practicing on newsprint.
 I've not written up a lesson on this project's on my summertime to-do.
 A favorite was adding the tissue paper leaves or flowers. They just couldn't stop adding these, loved 'em so!
 Of course, in my absence at NAEA, the kids drew these adorable Chinese pandas. When I returned, they put their watercolor painting skills to work on the background. Lesson here.
 The day before the art show, in 30 minutes, the kids created these sweet things. On the night of the art show, we also host an ice cream social. The kids painted these for the occasion and I managed to get them up the day of the show! This was seriously the easiest 30 minute lesson ever. I'll be sharing the details in an upcoming post,

And there you have it, ya'll! The 2014 Art Show! Stay tuned for the final installment of the show which will include kid clay projects. Until then!

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

What the Art Teacher Wore #101 and Some Happenins

Memorial Day Monday: My first official day of summer. I'm so glad it's here...although every time I look at my calendar, I wonder "where is all my free time?!" it seems I've done a fine job of overbooking myself, sigh. dress: Anthropologie, last year; belt: made by me; anchor sandals: Sperry
Well, howdy, strangers! I wasn't really intending on taking that mini-hiatus but it seems that I've been consumed by summer vacay. Ya see, the hubs and I are currently in California (him: work; me: what's work?), taking to some local hiking trails by day and doin' time at Disneyland by night. I'm so glad we were able to make it since last Monday, when I busted my ankle and thought it broken, I assumed I was gonna be couch-bound with a cast and (fingers crossed) good meds. Thankfully, no broken ankle (as mentioned here, it turned out to be a bruised bone). When I told the doc I felt kinda foolish even bothering him with something so silly he said, "The other day a guy came in because he saw white dots on his tongue. I told him, 'those are called tastebuds. Go home, eat something and use those white dots.'" So, I supposed I coulda been Taste Bud Man.

In other non-swollen-ankle/Ima-on-vacation news, I've got some exciting things planned this summer that I thought I'd share with you! Things that are sure to keep me busy and off the streets which is a good thing says my parole officer. 

So now I wanna know what are you up to this summer?! Fun vacays planned? Super awesome classes you are taking? Crafty projects you are dying to dig your hands into? Dude! I wanna know! Until next time, have fun, whatever you are up to.
I'm excited to announce that I'll be presenting once again at an AOE conference! I had so much fun attending the last conference and I learned so stinkin' much. Not to mention I loved the live chatting, my typing fingers could seriously not keep up! This conference I'll be talking about a topic that it seems you are either for or against: Having a Tech Free Art Room. I'm looking forward to sharing my thoughts on this topic and having an open convo during the live chat. So, who's attending with me?
Bruised Bone Tuesday: Yeah, I'm still whining about it. But it was so silly how it happened that I'm just confounded. I was walking through our disturbingly disastrous garage when my ankle bumped into the wheel of a suitcase. But what it really felt like was my suitcase shoved a red hot dagger into my ankle bone. Instantly that ankle swelled to the size of tennis ball while a slew of unfortunate words came outta my mouth. I had to wear these lovely flippy-floppies for the next coupla days. dress: vintage
Have ya'll heard of The Skillery? It's this groovy Nashville-based community that offers space for creative folks to either work independently or come together and learn from each other. And this gal is teaching a needle felting class there!
If you've been around this blog for a hot minute, you know I love me some needle felting. One of my fave projects was this portrait I created of my cat Asha! You can go here for all the gory kitty cat details. 
Finally Healed-Up Friday: Just in time to grab a crepe breakfast with one buddy and an ice cream lunch date with another. Because meeting -n- eating is what summertime is all about, says me. dress: vintage, Buffalo Exchange; necklace: Pangea, Nashville; shoes: BC Shoes 
Aside from art education blogs, my fave blogs to read are those written by my fellow sewing sistahs. And Erin of Seamstress Erin is one of my go-to reads. I love Erin's blog because she's not your average sewer. This girl is like a super-genius with a great wit! So when she contacted me, along with some AMAZINGLY talented sewers (don't even ask how I got into this group!) saying that she had some acquired some turbans from the movie Rambo III and would I like to partake in a sew-along? I was all "yes, puhlease!" You can read her blog post all about it here.
I've already started working on the dress (oops, spoiler alert!)'s to hoping Rambo approves! You can see what one sewer did with her fab turban fabric here.
Flying to LA Saturday: It's a four hour plus flight, ya'll. My goal is to always be comfy and to have plenty of layers. Those flights can get ice cold and this one was no exception. Glad I brought a scarf with me! dress: thrifted, Target; belt and cardigan: Anthropologie; necklace: Forever 21; sandals: Target
Aside from the conference, the class and that sew-along, I do hope to squeeze in some Back to School Sewing this month! I've been buying up these fun art teacher fabrics when I see them. Now! I need some one-on-one time with my sewing machine to get to work!
So many pretty pattern choices to choose from, ah! You don't even know how much time I waste staring at patterns and dreaming up dresses. Hours, people. Hours.
A Boulder-tastic Hike at Black Star Canyon: Dude, we climbed over giant boulders with notion that there'd be this amazing waterfall at the end. Of our 13 mile hike. Yeah, it was dried up. Oh well, lil exercise never killed anyone although it came real close since hubs was the one that picked this particular trail. Humph.