Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Mud, Cloth, and Kids

I started out my second semester at the Academy for the Blind teaching a ceramics unit.  The youngest of students could figure out how to roll a coil to make trivets, or make slab tiles on which to make texture by pressing sea shells. Middle and High School students started with small pinch pots turned into animals.
 Some students left their pot upright, for  vessel-like head or body, while others turned theirs sideways (for a mouth), or upside down (for a shell).
 We used the slab roller to make boxes and some of those boxes looked less boxy than others.

I worked with each high school student individually, guiding their hands to show them how to throw pots on the wheel. I never found a pedal or base for the wheel, so we set the wheel on a table and used it standing, without control over speed. It was a challenge for me to get used to, but students who never used a potter’s wheel before didn’t know the difference and most were pleased with the results.

I also taught a unit on quilting. There are so many great picture books like, “The Keeping Quilt” and “The Patchwork Path” which open up meaningful discussions about the stories quilts tell. We studied Amish quilts as well the fabulous Gee’s Bend Quilters. Repetition and crystallographic balance were the design principles we emphasized through individual pattern studies.

 That led to individuals contributing favorite patterns to make Class paper quilts. Quilting is traditionally a collaborative process.The youngest students picked from piles of smaller squares which had been divided by hot glue lines to help them use the space.

The older students used fabric markers to make a school-themed quilt block that they could then sew, iron, and quilt. Nothing warms my heart more than to see macho teens using a sewing machine. That week, we went to the amazing quilt exhibition at the local Museum of Art and Science, where students were able to play with traditional and non-traditional textile materials.

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