Wednesday, May 16, 2012

fabulous giraffes and a new look!

These have been hanging in my classroom for a couple of months in honor of our recent visit from author Debbie Clement....the borders are cut pieces of painted paper which I just LOVED!
You may also see that my blog has just undergone a makeover! It was about time...the Blogger template just didn't fit the theme or overall direction of the blog. If you are looking for a blog makeover, I highly suggest Casey at Sugar Studios! Casey "saw" my vision and carried it through...which suits me, my classroom, and my lessons MUCH better!
How much longer do you have kids? I am in a panic now and will see my students only twice more this year. I have a graveyard of clay projects (projects with no names, pieces and parts that fell or broke off...grrrrr....) that I'm sifting through and trying to repair things so I can get projects out before the very last day of school.

My kiln is on overload (and so am I! I think my back is going to break!!!) so I think I'm going to give her a night off. Rest up, on again tomorrow!

ALSO, don't forget to link up to my clay linky party-- I'm in need of some new clay projects!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Mr. Imagination's Creations!

Meet Mr. Imagination! Mr. Imagination is an American Folk Artist born in 1948 in Chicago, Illinois. He is best known for his eclectic style of folk art, combining everyday items with found or gifted items from total strangers. 
 This is me standing under Mr. Imagination's Unity Arch at the House of Blues Restaurant at Downtown Disney in Orlando, Florida. Inside the arch are a myriad of objects that the public donated for the project, including a photograph of a lost child, a space-traveled coin, brooches, name tags, earrings, dentures, and a razor!
The work became a community effort to memorialize the late Princess Diana, who was tragically killed in 1998. The Arch also serves as a memorial to loved ones lost.

 I have little booklets made of some of these close-up pictures and it's kind of like a "Where's Waldo" for my students to look at before and after they are finished with their work. His work is a more contemporary version of southern "Memory Jugs" that were created in the 1800's.

 If you have never been to the House of Blues, they have them in a few different cities (Orlando and Las Vegas I know off the top of my head). They are filled with American Folk art (loving these bottles here!) and each have their own crazy quilt and container of Mississippi mud beneath the stage!

 With my students I make "memory tiles" in the style of Mr. Imagination--- we use plaster and beads and other trinket-y delights for an eclectic treasure tile.
 My students absolutely adore these tiles, and on my collaborative blog PreK and K Sharing I go through the fun plaster process with you! So, hop on over to PreK and K Sharing to see how to make these little gems!
As usual, happy creating!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Big-Mouthed Monsters (plus a clay LINKY party!)

 This is what my ENTIRE room looks like right now, and my two kilns are working 'round the clock. For me, it's easiest to do clay with everyone (grades 1-5) at the same time, and I always do it during state testing (here it is the FCAT). Our school doesn't "shut down" during state testing...the kids still come to Specials, so I always have to have some sort of "release" for them while they're academically stressed. In the photo above you can see what my Fourth Graders are working on-- Keith Haring dancing figures...a study in their first clay "building" experience.

*Many of my first, second, and third grade projects are based on the pinch pot. It's a great all-around form to start with, and students feel secure making it into something else, which I've done now for years.
 My fifth graders are creating these adorable "big-mouthed monsters" which begin with a pinch pot, turned to the side to create the mouth. I love all the details they are coming up with to add to their monsters, and I've been stressing to them that "just like every one of you in this classroom who is unique, you MUST add something to your monster to make IT unique, too."
 A concept that bears repeating over, and over, and over, and over. I promise to get some more pictures up of these little gems once they are glazed.
I would really like to broaden my clay repertoire, though...expand beyond the pinch pot,especially since both the kids (and myself) feel a certain level of success when we're using pinch pots as a starting-off-point.

What are your greatest clay successes? Do you have wonderful clay lessons you'd like to share? Please link up your ceramic clay idea to the Linky below! This Linky party will remain open until May 31st, so please blog to your friends or colleagues who may have some awesome ideas!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

rainbows within our reach

 **Deep breath** trying to do this post some justice....
Last week my students FINALLY were able to meet and experience author/singer/songwriter Debbie Clement's colorful approach to telling students to live their dreams. It was an awesome day for them (they had SO much fun!) and continuous "teachable moment" opportunities for myself since that day.
 Let's start in the beginning, though, shall we? How in the world does little ole Art Teacher me get hooked up with an AUTHOR?! Well, the power of the blogosphere, that's how. Debbie left me a comment on one of my 9-11 calls for artwork and come to find out, her book "Red, White and Blue" features a quilt based off the small village where my Grandparents live (population 280-something). An even funnier thing?! Debbie is a member of the Door County, WI Quilting Guild, of which my grandmother is also a member. She knows her by name. W.E.I.R.D how the universe works, right?!

 Debbie's focus is mainly on Pre-Kindergarten and primary-leveled students. My older students, however, got into her act, and proved to me that there are little kids inside all these "cooler" intermediate students as well!
 Debbie's book "You Are Wonderful" struck a chord with many of my students, with whom I'm currently doing a unit on diversity and differences. One of my students asked the question "We've been talking about unique-ness in Art and how we can make our artwork unique. What makes YOU unique, Debbie?"

SWOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOON. A parallel, a cross-curricular connection. She GOT it, the point of the whole thing. The point is that you need to be unique in order to "make it" stand out, to get noticed. As difficult as it is to admit sometimes, they ARE ALL WONDERFUL.
 We also had a blast singing the song "Jumpin' Jimminy"--- during which the students must freeze and make silly faces. I loved what I saw and their true spirits came out.

 On top of it all, the kids learned sign-language...Mason signs "beautiful" here.
 It's such a struggle every day to try to have my students not make cookie-cutter art, to add an element to their artwork which makes it unique, that'll make it stand out from everyone else's...a feat that haunts me daily. A feat my kids have miraculously strived for since Debbie's visit last Thursday. Full circle, people, full circle.
What?! A post without beautiful pictures of beautiful art?! Yes, for now...sometimes it's good to get these introspective posts out, too.

For more information on Debbie's beautiful books, or author/artist visits, please visit her blog, or grab her colorful re-cap of our visit on our collaborative blog PreK and K Sharing.