Sunday, December 23, 2012

DIY Bookends

Can I just say, I stinkin love Pinterest!?
Its funny, in college one of my professors encouraged us, no- required us- to keep a "box" full of things that inspired us. Twyla Tharp in, The Creative Habit: Learn It and Use It for Life, encourages people to do the same, and that semester we read many excerpts from her book. I actually took it out from the library this summer as part of my Seminar in Creativity class.... I'm getting off topic.
My box was full of pictures of eyes, women adorn with fabrics that flowed , patterned and whimsical interiors and skate/ pop punk culture pictures, all torn from the pages of any magazines I could get my hands on.
Pinterest is kinda like that box. Many of the things I "tear from pages" are now lessons, and less inspiration for my own work. (Which is a shame, but once my Master's degree is done, I need to will schedule a "date" night at least once a month for me and my art supplies.) But my boards are a place that I can keep going back to and find inspiration from. And like the satisfying feeling I got when I used the box to complete my textile design senior show, its such a pleasure to find an idea online and make it your own.

So the impetus for this rant:
Originally pinned from: PBteen
When I saw this, I immediately thought of my boyfriend. But swap the dogs for dinosaurs and its the perfect (hopefully) Christmas present.

I started this project in early November. I'm sure that the original is made in a factory and probably a mold of some sort, but I knew I could figure a way to put this together. I planned to find two plastic dinosaurs and some scrap wood bases and spray paint everything.
I started at a toy store looking for cheap, plastic dinosaurs. But there was no such thing! All the dinosaurs were EACH over ten bucks. They were almost like little scale models, and the sales staff couldn't think of anything of a decent size that they carried.
I decided to look online.
I found two of the same, about four inch tall, dinos on eBay and scooped em up as fast as I could.

The base was the next struggle.
My local big box stores didn't have solid blocks of wood, that were not curved like chair feet, that would work. They also wouldn't cut a four by four, so they say, nor did they have a scrap bin. So I asked a couple of friends but then it came down to crunch time. I asked a custodian for any suggestions and they pointed me to a pile of scrap wood! AND offered to cut it for me. At home of course. Perfect!
I had to glue two pieces together, which is my only qualm about the final product, but I LOVE how my dinosaur bookends came out. I really hope my boyfriend likes them as much as I do.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Middle School Art "Choice" Day

First of all, this was the longest week on record! I was as bad as the kids, anxious for Winter Break, but had a crazy schedule and a cold to contend with before making it to Friday.
As I looked around my classroom yesterday afternoon though, I realized how lucky I am. Despite my hemming and hawing trying to figure out what to do this week, my kids were so content with what they were doing in the art room. That was a good feeling. And as I took a step back and observed, I realized that I am so lucky: I have a job that I love, great students and a supportive staff. The tragedy in the news mixed with the feeling of the holidays made this week surreal for me, but in the end I'm glad I had that little moment to step back, enjoy and be thankful.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Creative Minds Tempera and India Ink "Batik"

I always LOVE this activity!
I knew after the first meeting of Creative Minds that this group of kids could handle the long term dedication needed to see this to fruition. I first did this with a group of elementary school kids in preparation for our first ever "After School Art Show." The image above, of Venus fly traps, is probably still my favorite. (Side story, this student was in 4th grade when she did this. I then had her as an art student in 8th grade when I was finally hired in the public schools. I now see her from time to time at the high school. Side, side note, five years later after I no longer work for the program, the "After School Art Show" still continues each spring!)

So I probably found this idea over five years ago at Kinder Art.
Since then, I have done this with three groups of kids, two of which were after school art clubs. When groups only meet once a week, this can take up to a month to complete. So heres whats up:

  1. Plan a design. I typically talk about motif and random pattern. Some of the most interesting works have been just simple shapes.
  2. Draw the design on larger paper using chalk. I have always used the standard 12x18 manila, school grade paper. 
  3. Paint the design with tempera paint paying careful attention NOT to paint on the chalk lines. It is also a good idea to apply the paint heavily. Not so heavy it cracks when it dries, but heavy keeping in mind that some may wash away later.
  4. When the paint is dry, evenly cover with semi diluted India ink. Adding some water I think helps to wash it away later. When applying, be careful not to "scrub" the ink into the layer of paint. I typically use a 2-3 inch wide brush so that only a few lines of ink are needed to fill the page. Due to the staining nature of the ink too, I have kids paint at a station.
  5. After the ink is dry, run a faucet to warm water. Using a board to support the page, have the warm water run over the inked page. I have used lunch trays in the past. If needed, use a paint brush to gently remove the ink. I reiterate to students that the more wet the page becomes, the more fragile it is. So they need to be super careful when rinsing the ink. I also explain that the more they rinse, the more paint that is under the ink, will rinse off too.

A handful of my Creative Minds kids are at the point of needing to rinse the ink. Hopefully I will have more images tomorrow.

Below are a handful of the final products.
Unfortunately, I think most of these are examples of washing off too much ink. In fact the student who created the first design told me that she felt like she washed off too much. Still a beautiful image though!

Water and fire

The seasons

detail of above