13 June 2007

Year #2 comes to an end..

Students worked hard the last two weeks of school to finish all the work they had started. I used the last two sessions in the art studio for all artists to finish work they had kept in their folders or put on the storage shelves - many students had started projects and then moved on to something else as more centers opened. As I reflect on the year, I realize I need to work more on having all artists verbalize what they are working on. The time always goes by so quickly that I often don't have a chance to talk with my students to find out what their artistic thoughts are about the works they are creating. I brought the video camera home for the summer and plan to work on creating mini-movies of all the demos for each center. That way, if a student is absent, watching the movies will catch them up to the rest of the class. Here's to a productive summer and an exciting re-opening of the art studio for year #3!!!

The jewelry center was a big hit!

This year I vowed to add jewelry to the offerings in the art studio. I set out bins of beads, buttons and wire and taught artists how to make paper and wire beads, as well as how to make a stringing wire with a hook on one end and a loop on the other end. I allowed students in kindergarten and 1st grade to string ordinary beads on a wire but they had to make a pattern on the table first before finishing their bracelet or necklace. The 2nd - 5th graders could choose from some glass beads that I brought from my own stash at home and combined these with wire and paper beads to make some wonderful creations. This summer I plan on working with friendly plastic and will introduce that medium to the jewelry center in the fall.

More fiber artists

The fiber center remained a favorite throughout the year and I had artists finishing pillows and weavings up to the last minute before school let out for the summer.

Sculpture center attractions

When the recycled materials came out, the sculptors in my classes began the mad dash to create. This year, with the help of advice from my fellow TAB teachers, I limited the size of the sculptures by providing 12X9 cardboard bases. The instructions were that the creations could not extend off the base but could go as high as desired. I thought I would have dissent in the ranks but no one seemed to mind the new restrictions. I allow 3rd - 5th graders to use the glue guns (after an initial demonstration) and told students that if they burn themselves, they lose the privilege of using the guns. The only other requirements were that the sculptures had to pass the shake test and they had to be painted before leaving the art studio.

25 February 2007

Beads can embellish anything!

I find that nothing thrills elementary students more than the sight of a large tub of beads. They like to incorporate them into their weavings and sew them onto their fiber projects.

Weaving is Zen

I find that whenever I open the Fiber Center, I have a very loyal group of students from every class who are busily at work every class period. I think it's the magic of seeing something slowly grow under their fingers, as they quietly repeat the mantra 'over, under, over, under'.

Even measuring and cutting the loom requires solitary concentration.


I don't know what it is about clay, but students can't seem to get enough of it. For kindergarteners and 1st graders, it is an immediate experience of process only, with no thought of product. Most of the time, they don't even understand that in a couple of weeks, they will be able to paint what they created and take it home... they are just glad to have the chance to sink their fingers into the ball of clay and bend it to their whim. Older students are very intent on their creations though, as is evident in their rapt expressions as they work.

I have my students use acrylic paint to add color and design to their clay projects. I don't think they could stand it if they had to wait even longer to get their treasures back because they were being glazed and fired again. And with acrylic, there is an infinite array of colors they can use, compared to what they would be able to choose from with glaze.

"Look Ms. G. - the blue is for the sky and the green is for the grass."

We love to build things!

My kids have been chomping at the bit to begin building constructions but I'm not ready yet to open the sculpture center. Maybe it's because I have clay going full steam and I just can't begin to figure out how to give some structure and limits to students as they begin to dive into the baskets and boxes of cardboard I've been collecting. I decided that a good way to get them thinking in the round is to open a center for 3-D paper sculpture and they've been content to work at making 2-D paper pop up into the 3rd dimension. When I demonstrate the various paper folding and bending techniques to the K's and 1st graders, you would have thought I was a magician or something!! I love that look of surprise in their eyes when I bend a paper strip and -boing- a spring appears.

"This is a really cool skatepark -- do you see the ramps and stuff?!"

The 2-D work continues!

Despite the fact that new centers have opened, there are still some diehard 2 dimensional artists who love nothing better than creating reality on a sheet of paper. Here is a beautiful sunset by one of my 5th grade painters..

Talk about a different reality -- check out the unusual inhabitants in this colored pencil rendition of another world!

Here is a student hard at work writing an artist statement to display with his colored pencil drawing.