Friday, July 11, 2014

Comin' Attcha Live: Opening the AOE Swag Box and an Artsy Book Order!

Hey, y'all! I was so excited to see these two boxes on my doorstep this afternoon (one from The Art of Education and the other my Artsy Book Club order, I made a wee film of myself opening them up! First up, the swag box from the Art of Education's online summer 2014 conference. If you aren't signed up for the conference yet, there's still time. I did make a BIG mistake in this clip when I said the conference is on Wednesday. It's actually Thursday, July 17th. I'll be there (with some art teacherin' rock stars) presenting at noonish. I hope to chat with you live at the conference! Now, let's talk swag, shall we?

Y'all, this box was amazing! You'll have to watch the clip to see what's inside...however if you can't stand the sound of my annoying voice (I promise within the first 30 seconds you will be I did snap a pic of the loot. It's so good, you guys! Check it: 
 While I was oohing and ahhing over the contents, someone was makin' herself at home in the box.
"WHAT?! If it fits, I sits. DUH."
(that face. I don't even know.)
Anyone else gotten their books yet? I'm excited to start creating and pirating with y'all!

And, there you have it! I do hope you enjoy these completely unedited and obnoxious clips. I'd love to do more...but I'd also love to keep the handful of readers that I have. Thanks for dropping by, y'all.

I'll see you at the AOE Conference on Thursday. In the meantime, let's read some good books and watch kittens crawl in boxes, emkay? Chat with ya soon!

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

In the Art Room: Ceramic Chinese Dragons with Third Grade

 Well, kids, it happened. I got That Note in the mail. You know, the one with the return address from your school.  In the middle of summer that could only mean one of two thangs: it's yer walkin' papers or, worse, a note containing a  listing of "Back to Cruel, er, School" meetings. That's right. Tuesday, July 9th marks the beginning of the end of my summer. Cue loud and obnoxious horror film-esque scream...
Make no mistake, this has left me in a rather fire-breathingly fowl mood. So what better time to share with ya these here Ceramic Chinese Dragons by my Amazingly Awesome Third Grade Artists!
 Since I've been spending my blogging time sharing travel pics and rando Pee-Wee packed posts, I've fallen a pinch behind on my In the Art Room adventures. My apologies. So whatcha see here is a project that I think my third graders would agree was one of their faves. Now, for those of you out there that are kilnless, hang with me as Ima gonna show you how you can create a Chinese dragon with a ceramic clay-ternative. But before we get into all that, lemme tell you how this all came about.
 Because we were learning about all-things-Asian last school year, I settled on the idea of having the kids create Chinese dragons. After a quick search on the interwebs, I found this post by my art teachin' buddy Rina over at K-6 Art. I loved her lesson as she broke it down into baby steps that were just perfect. Now she did her dragons with the younger set (first grade, people and they rocked it!). Since I was doing this with third grade, I knew I'd have to get 'em to step up their dragon makin' game. But first, a lil dragon-y background, emrkay?
Not all dragons are alike, y'all (Y'ALL!! This is off-topic but what else is new: I was recently BUSTED as a Mid-Westerner wearing Southern's clothing {which would be overalls and Crocs, in case you were wondering}. It turns out I've been conjugating "y'all" all wrong! Thank you, kind commenter, for pointing out my Big Fat Hairy Southern Poser mistake. Hopefully my Southern license won't be revoked {penalties include grits restriction and consumption of unsweetened tea}).

WAAAAAAAIT, what were we talking about? Oh, yeah. Dragons. Let's address the Chinese ones first, shall we? They're kinda like Mid-Westerners, after all. They've got a snake-like body with feet like that of an eagle. Which doesn't really make them Mid-Western-esque at all but their affinity for Pabst Blue Ribbon and corn hole does (can somebody please explain that fascination to me?!). Also, they can fly but don't have wings. And they like their possessions deep-fried as is evidenced by the fried pearl (the Chinese dragons are often seen with a pearl which is believed to be their source of power).
 My students were pretty unfamiliar with the characteristics of the Chinese dragon because they're usta seeing this European/Fairy Tale number. The Euro-dragon is much lie a Southerner in that when it says "Bless your heart" it really means "I hate you and wanna breathe fire down your neck". Also, when it's not flying with it's wings, this dragon can be seen wearing copious amounts of seersucker. And loafers without socks. And shirts with GIANT Polo logos. Ahem.
 After that brief chat with the kids, we spent three / thirty-minute art classes crafting these bad boys. On our first day, we began by creating a base for our dragon. For that we pounded our clay onto a texture and into a slab as thick as a cookie. Check out this post to see what I'm talking about. After our texture was in the clay, we cut the clay out with our wood skewers into a choice of base shapes: round, square or flower-like (which was later folded up to create water-y like waves).

With the excess clay cut off from the creation of the base, the kids rolled a thick coil that was about 5" in length. Once that was complete, we draped the base and coil in a damp paper towel, gently placed it into a zip lock bag and wrapped it up until our next 30 minute class.

The following class I gave the kids a rough and rapid idea on how to create their head (see below in just a momento). I don't like to get too detailed because I want them to come up with ideas of their own. I also had loads of Chinese dragon pics available for them to draw ideas from if needed. At the end of that 30, we didn't attach the heads (I had visions of them falling off whilst sealed in the damp bag) but placed them on the base with the coil.

On their third and final day, heads were attached and an environment for the dragon was created. If details like spikes, limbs, horns, fire, you-name-it's were desired, the kids added 'em then. After drying out and being fired (kinda sounds like I'm talking about Lindsay Lohan, donnit?!), the kids spent a coupla days glazing with Mayco's Stroke and Coat. And, viola-ness! Ceramic Chinese Dragons, y'all!

 Now, let's address the kiln less folks in the group, shall we? A similar dragon can be created with one of my fave kiln-free clays: Scupley. Almost every year, my students engage in a Sculpey bead-making project and almost every year, this is all that's left. Lots and lots of white.
 No worries! You can create any color of clay using that white stuff as your base. Case in point, a dragon's head. Just roll the desired shape in white, flatten your color to a paper-thickness, wrap it around your shape and roll smooth.

 Which might look a lil like the left. If you have white spots, fill 'em with some Scupley Band-Aids and roll again.

Now, these are the same rough and rapid directions I have the kids when they were creating their dragon's face. Use that skewer to skewer a mouth. It kinda mashes the shape a bit so you'll have to resculpt that face. But you can do it. 
 I like to use my fingers to create the indentions of eye sockets. Now roll some small spheres (because we don't say "balls" in the art room, ahem) and place them in the sockets. Remember if you are working with ceramic clay, you gotta slip and score. She slips! She scores!
 It's all about the details, y'all. Add some teeth, fire coming outta the mouth, a tongue (although preferably not all three as that's a mouthful. Literally.)
 I created a coil body in the same white-covered-in-green way as the head. Although this time I used two kinds of green and left some of the white areas alone. I was kinda digging the camo look.
 I know, right?
 Attach that head to the coil and shape. Bake in your oven at 275 (I think, check directions. I burn everything on a regular basis so my clay-cooking advice might not be the best) for abouts 15 minutes. And your finished!
 Suriously, yous guise, the kids were so thrilled with their dragons.
 I love watching the kids work with clay. It's a medium that kids who aren't fascinated with 2-dimensional art can really bloom. I mean, this artist was so into his dragon-making, he even created a baby dragon!
 You'll notice that most of the kids included a pearl...and many of them had a story to go along with their dragon. I love the detail in the face on this orange guy.
 And there you have it, y'all! Chinese dragons by the third grade set! Have y'all ever done a project like this before? If so, I'd love to hear what your students created. Special thanks to Rina for the inspirational-lesson!

Chat at Y'ALL soonish!

Sunday, July 6, 2014

What the Art Teacher Wore #105 and an Orlando Vacay

Photo Bomb Monday: Let's not even pretend that this cat is looking at something out the window. She knows when I'm about to snap a photo...and she also knows that she totally makes my photos better. I loved my Monday as it involved two of my favorite things: insane amounts of sushi and good-bye time with this girl. Send your good vibes Rebecca's way, she's heading out to Salt Lake City to teach art! dress: vintage, gift from a friend (thanks, Ann!); shoes: Anthro; hair bows and belt: H&M; daisy brooch: gift from a friend of moms-in-law (thanks, Dean!)
Hey, friends! I trust ya'll had a super fantastical Independence Day (aka just-another-Friday for those of ya'll outside of the states). We're currently in the final hours of our Orlando vacation and, ya'll, it's been incredible. We've done Disney, hiked some trails, visited with fam and, best of all, got to experience Diagon Alley, the newest addition to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios. I gotta warn you, if you plan on going to Universal anytime soon, this post is a serious spoiler, so go no future. But the whole experience was just so amazing, I just can't help sharing exactly One Million Photos of the place. It's just that nutz.

But before I get to all that, the Artsy Book Club winner is (can I get a drum roll? No? How about a Tootsie Roll? Thanks): Printmaking Unleashed! Yay, I'm so excited, I've already purchased my copy! I do hope it's a good one and offers a lotta new ideas for us. Now, for those of ya'll that are new to the Artsy Book Club train, here's how it works: Next Monday-ish, we'll begin dipping our artsy toes into the book. Please post on the Artsy Book Club page any printmaking projects that you attempt based on ideas in the book. This way we can all share ideas and thoughts together. If you can't get your kitten mittens on the book, no worries! You can still join the fun and post what you create. Ya'll! I'm so excited.

But Wait, There's More!
(do you know how many years I've had the blog and wanted to use that line?! Yearz, people.)
Many of you voted for Dave Burgess' Teach like a Pirate...and I've been meaning to restart that book for a while. So! I propose that if you had your artsy-heart set on that book, read it! Just like Printmaking Unleashed, we'll start plowing through chapter one of Teach like a Pirate next Monday-ish. What ya'll think? Who's in and whatcha reading? Can't wait to hear your thoughts and see your creations over at the Artsy Book Club!

Now, without any further jibbery-jab, let's take a look at these endless vacay photos, shall we?

So the hubs and I arrived in Orlando last Thursday evening and zipped straight over to Disney World. Since it was close to closing time and there was a pretty ugly looking storm on the horizon, we thought for sure that the crowds would have died down and we'd be able to easily hope on some rides. 
Whut in the World we were even thinking, ya'll? It's Dis-natch for crying out loud, The Happiest (and most crowdedest) Place on Earth! We did managed to squeeze in some Space and Thunder Mountain time but the throngs of people were just so throngy. One eve was enough.
Sew Awesome Tuesday: A sweet sewing buddy of mine popped over Tuesday and after a lil lunch, we set to work chatting and stitching. She's working on the cutest apron ever and I'm in the midst of what I've dubbed the Fiesta Frock. Fingers crossed I finish it in time to share with ya'll next week. Sewing with a buddy -- such a fun way to spend a summer day. dress: vintage; sandals: Frye
On Friday, we headed over to Islands of Adventure for the real reason behind our trip: Diagon Alley. Now if ya'll've never been to Islands of Adventure (the sister park to Universal Studios), you really should check it out. The entrance to the park alone is pretty amazing and, as an art teacher, I find it super inspiring.
It's seriously been the inspiration behind the way I attempt to create the environment of my art room (I just read that sentence three times and it made no sense. Good luck to you, kind reader). I heard that Steven Spielberg himself helped in the design of the entrance and I can totally see that, can't you?
After a short walk through Seuss Landing and The Lost Continent, we entered the Wizarding World of Harry Potter and were super stoked to see that the Hogsmeade train station was open! The grand opening isn't for a coupla days so we got super lucky that the train was open and had a 10 minute wait time (just to give you an idea, they are expecting thousands of folks for the grand opening with wait times up to six hours!). We practically fell over each other boarding the train.
Now, I'm not so mean and rotten that I would ruin the train ride for you. If you are dying to know, I'm sure a short google search would land you video clips of the experience. However, lemme just say that Universal spared no expense and it went way beyond what I coulda imagined. And I'll just leave it at that.
Totally Botanical Wednesday: One thing that I loved about going all the way to NAEA in San Diego was that I made friends with art teachers that live in my own town! On Wednesday, I met up with one of those fellow art teachers and after lunch, we headed to Cheekwood Botanical Gardens for their Big Bugs exhibit as well as their Warhol. I was so thankful for the indoor exhibit as summer temps in Tennessee can become unbearable in a blink! dress: thrifted, vintage; shoes: DIY, go here
Our train ride delivered us to jolly ole England, chaps! Right in the heart of London to be exact. We strolled through this area taking in the sights and feeling a touch confused: Where in the world was Diagon Alley?! When we asked an employee, her response was perfect: "Diagon Alley? Hmm, I've never heard of it!" In the Harry Potter books, muggles (that'd be non-magical types) are unfamiliar with this magical place. In fact, there aren't even any signs on how to get there...but we managed to turn a corner and found it...
I know, right? We seriously just stood there with our jaws dropped. And then this happened... 

Ya'll. That dragon (sorry, Potter fans, I've not read the books much to the hubs' dismay, I'm unfamiliar with his name) is simply amazing. I do believe Mitch and I made about twelve video clips of him blowing fire between the two of us. 

You could feel some serious heat when he did. My favorite part was that after every blast, the crowd went completely insane clapping and cheering. 
Leavin' on a Jet Plane Thursday: This here's the day we took off to Orlandoland. And tomorrow (Monday) we return. Le sigh. dress and silver clogs: Anthro; belt: gift from a friend (thanks, Anna!)
Don't let the name Diagon Alley fool you, this place was huge! And every bit of it was so creative that you could spend days (and we did!) just walking around and taking in the sights. Every couple of paces, there was a place for you to wave your wand (given that you picked one at the wand shop...or it picked you, as the story goes) and something magical would happen: a fountain would squirt you, it would rain, lights would flicker and full bodies of armor would come to life. 
All this magicalness can make a magician seriously hungry and dining was super fun. The coupla restaurants have menus based on British fare which is great...unless you don't eat meat. However, they did offer a veg option in the form of a cheese plate that sounded delish...but we decided to test out the crazy ice cream flavors (Butter Beer Ice Cream, anyone?) instead.
One of the key draws to Diagon Alley is the Gringott's ride which wasn't open quite yet. We were bummed about that for sure...but honestly, with this part of the park being as amazing as it was, I didn't really feel like I was missing out. Although, I'll be excited to go back and ride it when we can.
I did warn you of the excessive amounts of photos in this post, riiiiight?
Fourth of July Friday: We managed to catch Universal's fireworks display which was pretty rad. dress: Anthropologie

 I know I should really stop posting photos but, doggone, this place just didn't stop, ya'll! In this area of the alley, you could craft your own drinks with a variety of elixirs, swap your money out at Gringott's Bank, catch puppet shows (and I'm not talkin' Lambchop stuff, ya'll) and 1940's style big bands. There was something at every step.
 This kind of thing ALWAYS inspires me as an art teacher. When I'm here or at Disney, I think: can I make my art room as magical as this place? Can I create a space that constantly has my students curious, engaged, entertained and enthralled (sorry for the Triple E's, ya'll). Seriously. I wish my art teachin' space were Just. Like. This. 
 After our adventures in Diagon Alley, we hopped the train back to Hogsmeade. The train ride is a totally different experience going the other way so when you go, be sure to ride it both ways. 
 Hubs decided to hop on the ride there while I opted to take in the scenery. I've done that ride before and while it's amazing, it's a touch too realistic for me. I've managed to get motion sick the last couple of times I've been on it.
 Saturday Hike: Proof we didn't spend every minute in a theme park! 
 The hikes in the Orlando area are pretty stinkin' flat but they do offer sights like these.
If you made it this far into this super Harry (Potter, people. Harry Potter) post, you are a true fan, my friend. 

Now! Got get yourself one of those (or both!) Artsy Book Club books and get to reading/creating. I can't wait for our bookish adventure!