Saturday, January 6, 2018

In the Art Room: Gallery of Gratitude Portraits!

After the holidays, with Valentine's Day on our minds, I like to have the kids spread a little love and cheer. I've got lots of lovey-dovey based projects in the works which I'll be sure to share. One project that really spread a whole lotta warm fuzzies was one we did a couple years ago called the Gallery of Gratitude. 
You can read all about it here. This project meant so much to the folks I work with. They were stopping in their tracks, reading the words the kids wrote about them, taking pictures, was AMAZING. We did it right before Thanksgiving to give thanks. I knew I wanted to do the project again this year...but missed the Thanksgiving deadline. So I thought it would be perfect for the winter...when we could all use some warm fuzziness. However, instead of drawing the portraits like we did previously, I decided we'd change it up a bit.
A while back, an art teacher (whose name I don't recall so I cannot give credit to -- so sorry!!) did modeling clay portraits with her kids and they were SO FUN. She shared the the kids looked at the author/illustrator Barbara Reid. Y'all have to check out Barbara's books and videos, so amazing. After watching her videos, I realized just how easy this would be for my fourth grade students. Here are the supplies we are using:

* Modeling Clay. The brand does not matter! And the stuff is CHEAP! So much cheaper than Sculpey and full of color. I bought some inexpensive variety packs from the craft store.

* Matte board. I used matte board because of the weight of the clay and I wasn't sure if it would warp cardboard. I happen to have a TON of matte board so it came in handy. I cut ours to 4" squares as I wasn't sure if the kids could do large pieces. They could have totally done it!

* Model Magic Clear Glaze. The thing is, modeling clay NEVER EVER dries as it's a combo of wax and oil. However, with a thickish layer of the clear glaze on top, it becomes pretty hard.

* HOBBY LOBBY METALLIC PLATES! Y'all! I saw these at the Hob Lobs a couple months ago and just about fainted. The perfect fancy frame, right?!

*Old school yearbooks. So we could look up the person whose portrait we are making.

* Names. These are the names of folks whose portraits we are making. We'll be doing a portrait of every person who works in our school building. 

Video demo I created for the kiddos: 
We started the project yesterday. We spoke a lot about gratitude, what it means, how to show it. Then I had the kids draw a name of a person who works at our school. I told them that if they were happy with the name they got, they could go to their seats and get started. If they didn't know the person and were interested in trading, they could remain on the floor. The kids remaining on the floor shared who they had and traded. A few kids were allowed to redraw a name if they had no clue who the person was...and I knew kids in my other classes would be happy to create that person's portrait. I did have a couple teacher's kids in the class who we all agreed should have first dibs on their parental units. Everyone was happy with who they were creating.
When I share my videos with my kids, I do not show them the entire video. Instead, I break it up into bits. For example, before we drew names, I had the kids watch the first part of the video about covering the background. Then we drew names and set to work. Thankfully, my heat was working and my art room was SUPER warm. This really helped with the manipulation of the clay. In the video, you'll notices I struggle a little because my heat was not working on the clay was super cold and hard. So crank up that heat for this lesson!
After completing the background, the kids came to the floor and we each announced which person we were creating a portrait of. That was fun and the kids were so excited. This is their last year at my school so many of them shared memories of the person whose portrait they are creating. We then watched the second phase of the video about creating a skin tone and creating the basic shape of the head, neck, ears and nose.
I will say this, a couple of kids made their head shapes super small. So I had those who "got it" go around and help make the heads a little bigger. For my next class, I'm going to have a head shape created out of paper and request that the kids place their clay on top and stretch it to that size...I think this will help make the heads bigger and more consistent in size.
I made sure to write down whose portrait was spoken for so that I could keep track of who we were creating and who still needed a portrait made. We might end up having a handful of extra teachers and staff...and I'll put my early finishers on those.
Here is my teacher example! I'll be certain to share our progress with y'all!
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Tuesday, January 2, 2018

In the Art Room: Spilled Glue Bottle Sculptures!

Well, we're back at it! Winter break is now a fond memory and I'm trying my hardest to wake up my art teacherin' brain. If you follow me here, then you might have seen some of the art supply-themed sculpture projects my kiddos are creating. Here's a peak in case you've missed:
We've been chatting about the artist Lucy Sparrow and her hand stitched convenience store (take a look, amazing!). With her in mind, we are creating our own art supply store with each class creating a sculpture of an art supply! Fourth graders created these glue bottles in ONE CLASS which blew my mind. They rocked it out. Here's how they are made:
So simple!
Second and third grade are creating these crayons. We did these a couple of years ago...but I'm doing the lesson a little differently this year. I'll be sharing the details in a blog post super soon.
 Second grade is also in charge of the collage department. They created these glue sticks and scissors (below) and are now coming up with names for their glue and scissors. 
They'll be attaching those large price tag thingies you can find at the office store. Here are the sketches of their ideas:
My second graders are the funniest kids ever, by the way.
My fourth graders were creating these pencils and my first graders saw them and FLIPPED OUT. "When are we making THOOOOOOSE?!" So...I had the firsties make some too. And guess what? They look just as good as the fourth graders! They are so proud of them. Here's the lesson.
But now....back to the glue bottles.
 Here are the supplies we used:

* Packing pockets. I'm not real sure what they are called...but if you send out a school-wide email, you'll get some. I now have a huge stash!

* Rigid Wrap. Full disclosure: I work with Activa Products to create lessons. That being said, I LOVE their Rigid Wrap mostly because I am not a fan of papier mache. This stuff works so much better, dries super fast and doesn't require as many layers to create a hard surface. It's my jam.

* Model Magic. Y'all know I'm not a huge fan of Crayola's Model Magic...but for this project, it worked perfectly! And you'll only need a pinch to get the job done.

* White yarn. For the spilled glue.

* Glue! Yep, you'll need glue to make the spilled glue. I know, sounds crazy. Just hang with me.
 Now, one tip I fail to mention in the video is this: the Model Magic, as it dries, does this drooping thing. Meaning that orange tip might start to slowly change it's shape. Knowing that, I had my kids grab a paper towel, squish it flat and place it underneath the tip of the glue bottle as it dried. 
 The kids loved getting super messy. They even finished in enough time that they could have used clay to add coils of words but...maybe next time.
 I do want them to add a label. My second graders have had so much fun dreaming up the names of their art supplies I have a feeling that fourth grade will too.
 I'll be sure to keep y'all posted on the progress of our art supply sculptures. 
Until then, close those glue bottles and stop spilling glue all over the place, ya filthy animals! 

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Monday, January 1, 2018

Field Trip! In the Studio with Becca Jane Koehler

This summer, I had a wonderful chance to meet and hang out with the artist Becca Jane Koehler. I initially met her at our local HUGE craft show where she was a standout (and recognized) for unique pieces. I chatted with her a bit at the show and managed to grab a card...I knew she would be a wonderful artist to share with my students. On my YouTube channel, I have a playlist titled Field Trip! which is where I seek out and interview artists who share their process with me. I've filmed folk artists, painters, ceramicists, printmakers and now, Becca Jane! Here's the video:
I share these videos with my students either as inspiration for an upcoming project...or simply for them to get a peak behind the art makin' curtain. You are more than welcome to use them in your art teacherin' world!
You can see more of Becca Jane's work on her website. Personally, I love following her on IG because she's got a style that I really love. I also think my students will love her work and her process as well. 
Before meeting her, I had no idea that many of her pieces were made with slabs of clay. I can totally see using this method with my students. I'm excited about the idea of creating my own plaster molds to use in the art room. Have y'all ever done that? I'd love to hear details!
In the video, I mention the co-op where Becca Jane creates. It's the Clay Lady Campus and it's simply AMAZING. If you are in Nashville and never been, you gotta go. And if you are ever passing through the area, be sure and drop by, it's worth the trip. The Campus has an art gallery where the artists who create in the space sell their wares. The prices are very reasonable and I always find myself walking out with a bag of ceramic treasures.
While you are there, an artist will pop up and volunteer to give you a tour of the campus. Be sure to take them up on the offer! Becca Jane gave me a tour after our filming and I met so many amazing artists...and got a chance to see their creative space. 
Danielle McDaniel, aka The Clay Lady, is super awesome. I met her years ago and she seriously taught me everything I know about kiln fire clay. Be sure and check her out, even if you are not local...her books and resources are priceless!
I am loving the sgraffito method that Becca Jane uses. I did this method with my students years ago...and now I'm inspired to bring it back. 
Isn't it amazing, watching an artist create? It always looks so easy. Even as a person who creates, I'm always enthralled when I watch others paint, draw, thrown on the wheel. Mostly because I know it's not easy and hasn't come without a lot of work and patience.
Loving that green!
Big thanks to Becca Jane for sharing the magic of her creative process with us!
And, of course, sweet Eleanor! 
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Sunday, December 31, 2017

DIY: How to Recycle an Old Globe!

Happy New Year's Eve! If you are a TOTAL homebody/crafty nerd like me, than that means your evening is much like mine: you are in your pj's, enjoying a cup of hot cocoa (of whatever else pleases ya, I'm not here to judge) and you are writing up your New Years Craft-solutions, er Craft-utions (that's my best effort to combine craft and resolutions, in case you didn't catch my drift). One thing that WON'T be on my list for 2018 is a Painted I just narrowly completed it today!
And I was so excited, I had to take it in to school and add it to my It's a Small World area in the art room!
If you follow me on IG, then you've been hangin' with me on this journey to turn this trashed globe into treasure. I found it in the trash at school and had to dig it out immediately. It wasn't until I had it back in my art room and added to my collection of globes (why I have so many, I have no's just that I cannot seem to let them be thrown away!) that I noticed why it had been trashed: it was busted right across the equator. 
 I took it home and decided to fix it with a large plaster gauze strip...which made it quite unsightly. During my repair stage, I noticed that this globe was pretty dated...and poorly made from plastic. With that in mind, I didn't have much of a problem giving this blog the reboot. I'm a lover of all things vintage and it burns my eyeballs when I see folks "flipping" vintage (i.e. turning treasure into trash, says me). However, this bad boy wasn't very old...just old enough to have countries with incorrect names and a big honkin' crack right through the middle. 
Here you can see my plaster strip repair job. I done tole you it wasn't pretty.
If you've been on pinterest for a hot minute than you know that painted globes are pretty hip. Maybe even past tense hip. But I don't care. After a little bit of searching for ideas, I was so inspired, I decided to paint my globe. I used the same wall paint as I had for the walls at school because 1. I still have a ton; 2. I wanted it to match, color-wise; 3. It was more opaque than any other paint I could find.
I decided to paint each of the seven continents and give each a pattern.
I used the planters I painted a while back as my inspiration. I just picked patterns at random. 
 I love patterns. Like, LOVE-love. Tis the reason you'll rarely find me in a solid color. And if you do, it's paired with a buncha other solid colors thus creating...A PATTERN. 
This was such a fun winter break project for me. I've managed to knock out a couple...but sitting in my craft room and painting is my favorite way to end my day. I've got mountains of pattern-y painting projects just waiting for me in that messy space.
 Texture is also my BFF. I suppose I could have used paint pens to create the patterns on this globe...but I don't know that they would have given me all this thick-ish texture.
 You can kind of see my layers of paint in the photo below.
 Now I do have a "normal" globe in my art room as well...for when we need to examine places other than just continents. But I think this will be a fun addition.
  Brrr! My heat cut off when I was working a little in my art room today and it felt like Antartica! Or at least that's what 62 degrees feels like to me. 
  What projects were you working on this winter break? 
  Thanks for letting me share mine!
We head back this Wednesday for a coupla days of PD and the kids return on Friday. I'm excited to see their happy little faces! Happy New Year, y'all!
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