December 23, 2015

Froebel Sewing Card Remix

This "winter" we tried out sewing for the first time in our pre-K art studio. I based this project on one of Friedrich Froebel's occupations from the 1830's (with a slightly more contemporary palette). 

Tons of new skills with this project!

Read all about it, and see more pictures of the abstract constellation-like stitchings the kids made over at Pacon's website.  Mini lesson on Froebel, the inventor of Kindergarten too.

Like it/need to make it? I've got the lesson plan with pre-K standards available to download here

December 2, 2015

Sandy Mandala

While studying traditions from around the world, our pre-Kindergartners learned about the detailed ephemeral sand mandalas carefully created by Tibetan monks. 

We created our own, more permanent version by stamping and tracing geometric shapes with glue. 

Sand was carefully selected and poured onto our mandala,
and at each step, excess sand was shaken off (very exciting).

Students experienced the creation radial symmetry, worked together in collaboration, and practiced decision making while choosing colors and shapes for their mandala design.

Lesson plan (including pre-K Visual Arts Standards) here!

November 16, 2015

Blue Willowsnappers

This November, my students learned the legend of the blue willow
and created their own versions of the iconic ceramic dinnerware.

Short version: A rich Manderin has this beautiful daughter Koong-Se,
and they live in a beautiful house.
He wants her to marry this powerful duke, but she's in love with her dad's accountant (Chang),
which makes her dad angry.
Dad builds a fence around their house, to keep Chang and Koong-Se apart.
On the day Koong-Se is supposed to marry the duke
(the day the last blossom falls form the willow tree) she and Chang sneak off,
steal the duke's boat and sail away to an island.
Eventually, the duke finds them - and his soldiers kill Koong-Se and Chang.
The gods honor them by turning them into doves.

We identified the visual symbols in the story:

their house

the fence built around it

the willow tree

the escape boat

and of course, our two love birds.

Students designed their plates using the same symbols, created decorative borders, and painting them using blue watercolors. We used all our new skills! Line, shapes, positive/negative space, contrast, and more!

November 1, 2015

Masked Marauders

We spent the week leading up to Halloween identifying patterns on animals, 
with specific attention to the work of Henri Rousseau (those STRIPES tho):

and Charley Harper (spots on spots):

The kids created patterns on paper, then tore them up and made some crazy animal masks!

here's a monkey:

a tiger:

and a bunny!

October 31, 2015

Can we Kandinsky? (Yes we can.)

As a little collab with my school's music teacher, we recently did an investigation into the work of the "father of abstraction", Wassily Kandinsky

We started with The Noisy Paint Box, about Vasya's childhood and adulthood with synesthesia. Check it out! It's an fascinating condition, and a great starting point to making connections between sounds and shapes, and color and music! 

Students also checked out some of his paintings, discussing what they might be. In "Diagram 17" (above) they noted the simple color scheme and shapes, and saw a rocking chair, mustaches, a cat, a dragon, and music (!they get it!).

Some of his color studies were equally intriguing, like "Concentric Circles in Squares". Much like when we studied Josef Albers, students were super quick to identify favorite color combinations and pairings.

We made our own concentric circles with watercolors, and got to incorporate both painting skills and "bigger/smaller" vocabulary!

To show off the student work, I added them to a tree I made using my Ellison die cut machine.
Check out our final bulletin board display here!

October 3, 2015

Square Up

We've been studying the work of color theorist and abstract painter Josef Albers in our pre-K art studio.  
His "Homage to the Square" paintings are the sh*t. 

As a class we looked at a few, and identified favorite color combinations. 
How does the same color look when paired with different colors?

(One girl picked this as her favorite and described it as
"a painting of butter on the kind of cheese that melts".)

Anyway, we did a little "homaging" ourselves. Students used their emerging tracing skills to make squares, and choosing color pairings that appealed to them.

We also did some experimentation with size, arranging squares of colored paper from large to small.

We had an excellent time playing around with color and squares,
and made some very cool art in the process!

August 9, 2015

13 #DIY projects, 17 tween girls, 1 week

We did a DIY week at PAFA's Summer Art Camp, and banged out a million projects.
And here they are, in roughly chronological order:

1. Papier-mâché confetti bowls (from paper confetti, Mod-Podge, water balloons). These turned out very cool, and I can't stop thinking about other possibilities.

2. Shrinky-dink jewelry. We drew symbols and shapes and used my Ellison die cut machine and made necklaces and bracelets and pins and earrings and everything. If you're a girl from the 80's you're already reminiscing, right?

3. String art. The girls choose pieces of wood, sanded and painted them, then designed simple or complex symbols and designs and hammered them out with finishing nails, and connected the dots with embroidery floss. Seen here, the YouTube play button and a multi-faceted heart.

4. Lots of loom work! Tons of little weavings, which were displayed together for our exhibition.

5. Embroidery floss surfaced again in these wrapped charger cords. If we must plug in, let's keep it fancy, yeah?

6. Glue and food coloring combined to make these cool suncatchers. Super simple project, THX INSTAGRAM. Pour a little Elmer's in the bottom of a plastic or styrofoam container, swirl in some food coloring (not liquid watercolors as it turns out) and put it in a sunny, airy spot to dry. Pop them out a few days later and string them up.

7. We got super scientific and made these faux geodes by dissolving alum in hot (microwaved, cringe, not boiled) water, and leaving clean eggshells in the concoction overnight. Got this from Martha and the sisters at A Beautiful Mess. The internet wins again!

8. A special guest visited the studio and helped us make these cool and weird felted soaps! Wool/hot water/soap, etc. Supposed to be great for exfoliating? Almost too pretty to use. Instructions on Katie's blog.

9. We didn't exactly follow all the moves in this "ancient tradition", but we experimented with some shibori techniques, and landed with some pretty beautiful results (I should have taken more pictures).

10. We visited the galleries at PAFA a few times for inspiration, and on one trip we sketched tattoo ideas based on favorite paintings and drawings! The drawings got copied onto tattoo paper and were SO cool. It's not cheap (the tattoo paper) but it worked really well, and was fun to experiment with.

11.  I like to use emojis, but not as much as 12 year old girls like to use emojis. We used a button machine and made lots of emoji buttons and magnets (until the machine got jammed. Sigh.)

12. I discovered some abandoned scrap leather (in my kitchen cabinets, which I use for overflow craft supply storage, obv), so we used it to make fringy and shaped leather keychains! Fun! Grommets are loud! Bang bang bang!

13. One of our last projects were these very cool fused plastic wallets. You'll read more about these someday on Ellison Education's blog, but for now, get excited about knowing you can use an iron and scissors to turn your Justice bag into a change purse. Or whatever.


Questions about any of these processes? 
Scoop Pinterest, like I probably did, or get at me:

June 1, 2015

Colossal Popsicle

The large scale sculptures of Claes Oldenburg always seems to be a fan favorite with kids and adults. This year, we looked specifically at his food themed sculptures, like giant burgers and ice cream cones, and made our own larger-than-life popsicle!

We theorized about the similarities and differences in scale of Oldenburg's hard and soft sculpture, and where the work was intended to be seen (in museums or in public parks).

We're lucky to have a few Oldenburgs around town, so we also were able to look at a few Philly examples of his work (like the Paint Torch at PAFA, the Clothespin near City Hall and the Button in University City). 

With all these new ideas about scale in our heads, we set to create an XL popsicle! Students used cardboard, Dixie cups, and masking tape to create a form.

A painstaking decision about color,  about a gallon of ModPodge and pink and orange tissue paper finished off our treat!

Settlement Music School
May 2015

See other Oldenburg related lessons here and here.