Monday, February 11, 2019

Monogram Wall Art

Last weekend was a short course weekend at my school with the theme, "Family Matters." I decided to use my Saturday Art time to have students take the initial of their last name and create a small wall hanging to decorate their room or door.

I printed each letter into card stock (2 per page, about 500 pt font). They cut out their letter, and then decorated it. They could glue glitter, buttons, beans, pasta, sand, or beads to make it tactile. They could spray paint their letter with or without texture. Then they picked out an upholstery swatch to cover a piece of cardboard.  We cut the fabric corners to lose the bulk, and hot glued the edges to the back. Students picked a ribbon that matched their fabric or letter, and blued the ends to the back of the upper edge.

 Once the letter  dried it could be glued to the front.  It was interesting to see which students wanted burlap and beans, and which ones wanted the most bling they could get. Some of the girls remarked how much these wall decorations looked like cute gift bags or small purses. That's a project for another day.

Clay Sculptures

Ceramic monster sculptures made my art students
I have taught my students how to make coil pots and hand build with clay slabs and the score and slip technique, but when I was looking at images of  Janis Mars Wunderlich's art, I came across a few images of sculptures being built from the table up with thin walls. In a few seconds in video clips, I saw her rolling porcelain coils  and then flattening them with her fingers before adding it to the top edge of her piece in progress.  Janis was kind enough to let me stay with her when I flew to Ohio a couple decades ago to check out the OSU art department and occasionally had me over for dinner after I became a grad student there. She was always very prolific and her work was edgy and engaging.
Wunderlich's unfinished porcelain sculpture and my student's unfired piece of bucktoothed boy in party hat.

 I decided to introduce my class to some of her pieces and her technique.  

The subjects included a cowboy boot, a cruise ship, a fox, and a large fish and although the finished products are slightly clumsy, given the short time and the visual impairments of the students, I find them pretty charming.

Friday, February 8, 2019

Carved Bowls

Decorative, functional art assignments make sense for kids. They use bowls every day, so I thought that would be a good way to introduce them to subtractive techniques in sculpture. We threw the bowls on the potter's wheel, and waited a day for them to be leather hard before carving patterns into the surface. Textural surface treatment is especially pleasurable for my students who are blind because they can't see the color.

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Wooden Sculptures

Every little kid should have a chance to play with building blocks and popsicle sticks. This is all we did for our first few days of "wood sculpture" week. Actually, I did show my art students a few videos of people carving wood to discuss the difference between additive and subtractive processes, but basically it was a matter of coming up with as many possible solutions to what they could do with a few boxes of wooden things before settling on a design and gluing the pieces together.

I started teaching sculpture with a  month of relief sculpture projects, because my students with visual impairments are used to Braille and tactile images in their day to day life.  Of course they live in a three dimensional world, so sculpture in the round shouldn't be a stretch, but it is a little hard for some of them to understand that an artist must consider how their sculptures look from the front, back, both sides, and sometimes from the top or bottom. Some had trouble getting past the flat surface, but it was still good for them to have a chance to explore with wood.

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Bubble Painting

 Bubble painting is fun to do for little kids who are get excited about blowing bubbles through straws (like I did in kindergarten). To do this, you mix 3 tablespoons of water, 1 tablespoon of dish soap, and a few squirts of food coloring in a cup.  Use a straw to blow bubbles until they are coming out the top. Then pull the straw out and gently place a piece of paper on top of the cup until the bubbles pop.  If you want more organic forms, wait until you make enough bubbles to start coming down the side, and then move the paper without pressing it to the cup top. You can create some wonderful textures and overlapping colors with this process centered art project. Experiment and enjoy!

A Star is Born: Making paper star ornaments.

I find it funny how slowly and painstakingly some remove pretty wrapping paper from a package, I find it funny that some people slowly and painstakingly remove pretty wrapping paper from a gift, only to throw away a few days later. If you have a favorite paper and want to preserve it in a fun way, why not cut it into squares and make ornaments from it during the Christmas break "Lord of the Rings" marathon (or whatever binge watching you do while on break).

They're not hard to make once you learn the steps, which begins with cutting a square of paper, I think I used 7 inches and it worked well. You fold the piece of paper in half, and then take a corner (starting with the folded side) and line the top up with the side, making a little triangle at the top. Unfold and do it with the open side.

After you open that, you'll see you've made a little X.  Take the folded corner at the other end and line it up with the center of the X. Make a crease.

 Grab the corner touching the X center and bring it back so the first edge of fold you made lines up perfectly with the fold you just made, to make a triangle with a little edge.  Then take the half that is still rectangular (with the X) and line the folded edge with your most recent fold so that there is a point in the center of your original rectangle.  At the point (probably facing you, on the original folded edge) crease so that the two triangular shapes are overlapping and the backs are together.Then cut the extra.

 Cut the extra along the edge, and you should open the paper to find a pentagon (5 sides) .

Take one side of the pentagon and fold it up so that the corners of the edge are just touching the creases that go to the The two points on either side of the center point, just above the center. Repeat that five times so that each edge has been folded and creased.

Then try to fold two sides that are next to each other at the same time, along the pre-folded creases. Where they overlap, there should be a little corner that sticks out the side.
Unfold it and then go around and do this until every corner has had a chance to be creased in this manner.

Grab each point and gently turn them in the same direction until you can press down to create a star shape with the back of the paper spiraling in the center.

Then turn the ornament over, and take the edge of each star point and fold the outer edge half way over so that the point of the pentagon in the center of the star goes to the center of the ornament.

The last corner will need to be tucked into the center, so that it all holds itself together.  It looks pretty nice from either side. I used red ribbon to make a loop and bow. My students helped me make some to send to the board of education for Christmas, but these could be done any time of the year, from sheet music for the refreshment table at a recital, or from gold paper and hanging from the curtain rod for your Oscar's party.  Find a chunk of time to figure it out and then enjoy the process AND the product!

Friday, January 11, 2019

Graham Cracker House: Differentiation by Ability Levels

Differentiation is a big deal in any realm of education these days, but it has always been a necessity in special education. In order to do an art lesson on architecture or the culture of holiday traditions all you need is 3 graham crackers per child, candy, and some royal icing in zip lock bags. The tiered project means I have students who need pre-made houses to decorate. Other students needed the graham crackers cut out for them to assemble with icing. My highest functioning students can not only cut their own graham crackers, but design their own house, rather than use my pattern.  When teachers know their students zone of proximal development, they can stretch the each child's abilities without overwhelming the child and frustrating the learning process.