Friday, November 25, 2016

Popsicle Stick Kazoos

Making instruments is a favorite art activity for my students with multiple disabilities. Because they are all legally blind, having and end product that makes sound is more meaningful than a drawing that they can't see.

A rubber band, 2 popsicle sticks (tongue depressors), two 2"X3" pieces of construction paper or card stock, and some tape are all that is required for a child to make a simple kazoo.

The popsicle sticks can be decorated with colored tape or sharpies. Don't use regular markers that will run when they get wet and color the young musician's mouth. Stretch a thick rubber band around one of the popsicle sticks. Then fold each piece of paper 3 times (alternating direction), and tape the paper to the ends of the other stick.  Sandwich the two sticks with the paper in-between and wrap tape around the outside two ends. 

Hold the kazoo to your mouth like a harmonica and blow. It will sound like a little party horn.

The giggles that come from my students once they figure out how to work their kazoos are even better than the sound from the instrument.

Be sure to have enough supplies on hand for your child to experiment with various widths of rubber bands and thicknesses of paper to get the best sound.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

High Contrast Compositions

Value subtleties are often lost for people who are visually impaired. The higher the contrast, the easier it is to discern shapes. I thought it would be good to teach about contrast in art by having students limit themselves to white paper and black or a dark color. I had them draw or trace shapes that overlapped. X's were drawn on every other shape to give the composition a checkerboard affect. This process only works as long as 3 lines don't intersect (as in the letter "Y").  It has to be an even number of lines coming together at intersections. Then the students were asked to paint or color the shapes with the X's.

A Visio Book (closed circuit TV) was used by some students to magnify their drawings so they could color in the lines. One of my students sees better when the Visio Book reverses the values so that the dark lines he colors look white on the screen.

Students with almost no vision, used Wikisticks to trace stencils. The student who made the piece to the right, chose water color as his medium.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Wire Elephant Wall Art

I was recently commissioned to make a wire wall hanging, and my wonderful client was very specific. She wanted an elephant with the trunk raised. And a baby elephant. Three Greek letters. And lots of color. 

I am always nervous about doing commissioned work because I can't see the imagine in the patron's head and I don't want to disappoint him or her. But when I repress fear, do my own thing, and try to have fun while doing it (which was pretty easy in this case) things usually work out.

I started out with a large drawing (3 foot X 4 foot) and bent the wire to follow the lines. I held the wire in place with tape, until I could use more wire, fabric, and mesh to hold it in place. thinner, plastic coated wire and copper wire worked well to hold glass beads and curls. I used upholstery fabric samples, fabric glue or hot glue to create large areas of color, tissue paper, yarn, pipe cleaners, tiny pieces of painted cardboard, buttons, and foam, add a little variety and activate quieter spaces. A couple hooks on the wall will hold the wooden dowel from which the piece hangs. 

It is always gratifying to finish a piece and see a smile on a patron's face.