Thursday, September 21, 2017

String & Nail Craft Project

 Three weeks in a row, my art students were able to work with wood and hardware supplies to create art.

I love it because it reinforces basic home improvement skills to help my students become more independent.  Visually Impaired students aren't just required to learn the same curriculum as their sighted peers, they are also required to learn an Expanded Core Curriculum that includes life skills that they wouldn't learn unless taught explicitly (from how to use a fork and knife to how to us a hammer and nail).

In terms of Art Standards,  this week we focused on "Line as Design Element".  Elements of Design or Art are the tools you use to make art. All week we sang a list to the tune of "Oh My Darlin'"/ "Found a Peanut":  "Line, Shape, Color, Value Texture, are the Elements of Art. Line, Shape, Color, Value, Texture, Are the Elements of Art." I know, I know, some lists include "point," and "form" (the 3D version of shape), and I talk about how those are valid. But I'm not a big fan of including "space" on the list because how do you create space?  You can create a sense of depth or illusion of space, by overlapping shapes, using linear perspective, or atmospheric perspective (value), etc. but you can't do it without using the other elements on our list, so I cover that when we talk about Principles of Design, and stick to the very essentials for elements. My apologies to the people who make the posters that include "space" as an element.

To make this project each student sanded and painted a board. Cut out a shape from a piece of paper and used that as a template to mark where to place nails. Then embroidery floss or yarn was chosen (a contrasting color form the painted board. The end of the string was tied to a nail before "connecting the dots. When  a student doesn't know where to begin I have them go around the outline of the shape, wrapping it around each nail as they go along. And then it is just a matter of exploring. If they didn't like what was happening it only took a minute to unwrap it and try something else. Exploring the possibilities of straight lines is a great way to begin learning about the elements of design...and so much more.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Screw Art

I recently discovered an inspiring 5 minute video called, "Please Touch the Art"  about artist, Andrew Meyers making a tactile portrait from screws, for a blind man named, George.

After looking at more work by Meyers, I decided that this would be something that my blind students could not only appreciate, but create.

They each began by drawing a shape onto a piece of wood, and creating a grid of 1/2" squares. 

Then they made holes at each intersection with a drill or nail, before painting the shape black and the background a different color. Screws were drilled into the holes. Some students chose to try to have all the screw heads at the same height, while others tried to create curves or rounded shapes by varying the height.

Finally the heads of the screws were painted. Half an inch apart was not as close as I would have liked to have placed the screws, but each student was allotted about 50 screws, so they did what they could to fill the space.  One student who is totally blind, felt a piece progress and said, "There's the 'A'"  I didn't even know she knew the shapes of print letters, since she is a Braille reader. It was gratifying to teach my students how to use sandpaper, hammer, and drill, not just once or twice, enough times to actually gain some confidence in a life skill that they wouldn't have learned from observation.

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Collaborate Cardboard Relief Sculpture

I recently revisited a project from four years ago, in which I had each student choose a type of shape (rectilinear or curvilinear) and a set of analogous  colors (from yellow to blue, from yellow to red, or from red to blue). After they each painted and arranged their cardboard shapes into a personal relief sculpture, I asked how they would feel about combining them. (They looked so pretty-like a large stained glass window laid out on a large table together).  Eight students agreed, so I got out the hot glue gun and combined them into what now hangs  from the hall ceiling with 2 pieces of wire. It ended up being 6 foot tall, and there are enough individual personal relief sculptures to brighten our classroom as well.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Coil Pots

Coil pottery is an ancient technique and a fun way to introduce functional ceramics to art students. 
The process begins by rolling out a "snake" like shape with clay. This is used to  coil, or spiral around in a circle to form the bottom of a bowl, or it can be added to a slab (clay rolled out into a shape) to form a small wall. Layers of coils are added using the slip-and-score technique in which the attaching edges are scored with hatch marks and a slimy clan-water mixture is added for glue. If the clay is very soft than the slip and score method isn't needed; as two pieces can be smoothed together.

In the past, I have had assignments in which the students must smooth the inside and outside as they go along building the wall, but for this assignment, only the inside was smoothed so that the outside showed the texture of the coil process. Students were encouraged to use a variety of ways to add coils, in squiggles, spirals, horizontal layers etc. This way the end product makes it possible to see, feel, and remember the process.