In the Studio

Make it Monday!

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Make it Monday!

Draw a picture combining different animals into one new animal. Maybe the body of a rhinoceros, the neck of a giraffe, the head of a gorilla, and the ears of a rabbit…the ideas are endless. Another option is to cut up pictures from magazines of various animals and put them together like the picture here.  After you create your mixed up animal, design the habitat this new creature would live in. Give a name to this new breed of animal you created. Write a story about this new animal and his habitat. Have Fun! What does your mixed up animal look like? Email us your picture. We’d love to see...

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Melting Crayons = Art + Science

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Melting Crayons = Art + Science

How many thousands of broken, half used crayons do you have in your supplies? If you are like me, probably a lot. I have a hard time getting rid of them because they are still useful, they just are not as appealing as brand new ones. One of my favorite things to do with these broken crayons is to make multi-colored crayon chunks. You can do this at home with your kids or you can also do this at school with your students. Either way, the young people in your life will become fascinated with the way the crrayons melt and will make  great connections to other waxy products in their life. First, have the kids take all the paper wrappings off the crayons. It’s a good thing to have some kids who are finished early become crayon “helpers” by pealing off the paper. Kids love having a “special job” in the classroom.  As the kids peel, have them sort the crayons into color groupings. You could always have other students have the job of crayon sorting. Turn peeling into a “race” and have tables of kids challenge each other to see which table can peel the most crayons in 5 minutes. If you want to speed up the process of the paper peeling off, let the crayons soak in water to soften the paper. After the crayons are pealed, put an assortment of crayons in a plastic sandwich bags to keep them sorted. The students then pull colors out of the bags, break them into small pieces and place them into a greased muffin tin. You can also use the paper liners instead of spray cooking oil, and the paper will peel off after it cools. Place the muffin tin in a 200 degree oven for about 10 mintues, or until all the wax melts. It is facinating to see how the crayons melt and mix together. Have a discussion about the melting process. Do some colors seem to melt faster than others? Why? Do smaller pieces melt faster than larger ones? Why? The kids are wonderful observers and can make interesting connections when watching the crayons melt. If you want to do this type of project in your classroom you can use a electric skillet. Line the skillet with alumnimum foil, to pertect the surface, and place the muffin tins on top. Place the crayons in the muffin tins and put the skillet on a low temperature. If you have a document camera, place it above the melting tin and project the crayons onto your whiteboard so the kids can observe, as a group, how the crayons are melting. Ask them questions, such as, why are the crayons that are touching the metal melting faster than the crayons in the middle of the tin? What if we covered the muffin tin with aluminum foil, what will happen with the melting? Talk about the crayons in a solid state versus a liquid state. Many students will watch this and make the connection to candle wax melting too. Use the finished crayons to make texture rubbings of leaves, bricks, rubbing plates, and then use the rubbings to make a collage. What other ideas do you have for repurposing...

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Spring Butterfly Lesson: Clay and Symmetry

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Spring Butterfly Lesson: Clay and Symmetry

Butterfly This is a great simple lesson that allows younger kiddo’s the chance to practice rolling a coil of clay and also practicing the concept of symmetry. Directions: 1. First make the clay body. You can use kiln fire clay or air dry clay. Teach the students how to roll a coil and add texture to the body with a paper clip or other clay tool. 2. Poke in eyes with a pointy clay tool. 3. Let dry. 4. To make the wings, have students fold a piece of aper in half and draw the wings on the fold. 5. Cut out the wings and unfold paper. 6. Paint paper with watercolors. 7. Paint dried clay with tempera paint. 8. Glue body to wings and add wire for antennae. There are many ways to add color to the clay body and wings. If you don’t have watercolors, then use tempera paint for both. Have kiddo’s use markers to make patterns on the wings of the butterfly rather than...

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Jewelry, PMC, and getting my hands dirty

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Jewelry, PMC, and getting my hands dirty

Last month, I started taking a jewelry and metals class at a local art center. It’s so much fun! I’ve worked in metals before and wanted to get back into it.  I decided to take a class to explore my own creativity and “get my hands dirty.”  My teacher has been creating jewelry and small metal sculptures for over 30 years. The class is an open studio where we work on our own ideas and, with our teachers assistance, make our creations come to life. The leaf above, was make with a product called PMC, orprecious metal clay. It looks like a little blob of sily putty, but once it is fired in a jewerly kiln, it is 99.9% pure silver. The clay comes in various forms; clay, slip, and paper. The slip is used like ceramic clay slip and the “paper” is a very thin sheet of the PMC. Used by themselves or together, you can create a vast array of works. When I made the leaf, I used a PMC slip (which is similar in consistency to regular ceramic slip) and painted about 10 layers of it onto a real leaf. Just like in ceramics, when the leaf is fired in the kiln, the real leaf burns away and you are left with just the silver. After the first firing, I added a bail to the back and re-fired it all again to connect the 2 pieces. Once it was cleaned and polished, I decided that I wanted to darken the veins a bit to add some depth. Watch for postings on more metal creations…coming soon! What are you doing to stay creative and “get your hands...

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Wayne Thiebaud…”Is that Tim Tebow’s dad?”

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Wayne Thiebaud…”Is that Tim Tebow’s dad?”

One of my favorite projects to do with my students is about artist, Wayne Thiebaud. Wayne Thiebaud (tee-bow) is well known for his “dessert” paintings. Slices of cake, pieces of pie, wedding cakes and gum ball machines…if it contained sugar, then you might just find it as the subject of a Wayne Thiebaud painting.  I always connect Wayne’s art to Presidents Day as we are “celebrating” the birthdays of George Washington and Abraham Lincoln with a cupcake. Here is a great clip from CBS Sunday Morning that contains an interview with Thiebaud that you could use as an introduction.   I love this interview with him because it shows just how humble he is. He is an immense talent and sounds like his biggest critic, but what artist isn’t their own biggest critic?  Currently, there is an article that is in Smithsonian Magazine discussing Wayne Thiebaud’s artwork too. Here is an example of a cupcake painting that I created for this lesson. After creating the basic shapes together, the students can add a simple design for the table and wall. We used tempera cakes for the table and wall, and pearlescent paints (mentioned in a previous blog post) for the cupcake.  His work just makes me smile!  What is your favorite project to do to teach about Wayne Thiebaud? (btw: Wayne Thiebaud is not related to the football quarterback… and yes, I had to look that answer...

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How do you temper the Tempera?

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How do you temper the Tempera?

One of my favorite things to do is organize. Yes, I said it! I get excited at the thought of a neatly organized space and my classroom is no different. I know how hard it is for me to be creative in a disorganized space which is why I try to keep a very organized classroom. I’ve read many blog posts about organizing an art room and thought I’d share a few things I do when it comes to paint…tempera paint. Through the years I have found a system and products that work for me in my classroom. I have tried various brands and types of paints, various means of distributing the paints and many ways of cleaning up after. This is what works for me. My favorite brand of tempera paints is Crayola Premier Tempera in 32 oz containers. The paint is thick and smooth! I like the 32oz size as they fit perfectly inside my cabinets and are easy to squeeze. My room has limited storage and counter space so this size works best. I’ve never liked squeezing paint onto a “palette” (paper plate, plastic food top, mixing tray, etc) for dispensing the kiddos every time we paint because it seems as though a lot of paint is wasted that way. My second year teaching I found these great 6 set containers from Nasco that I dispense with what I call my “rainbow colors” (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple.) I fill them half way up and when they get low, I fill them again. It’s great because some colors get used more frequently and then I can fill them as needed. I’ve trained the kids to be extra careful about forgetting to clean their brush and dipping into a different color. If one color does get contaminated, and it’s usually yellow, you can cap all the other colors and rinse out just the yellow to clean and refill. It’s awesome!!! I have had the same set of these plastic containers for 8 years now! About once per year (usually at the end of the year) I take the containers home and soak them in hot, water with a little bleach. I’ve even put them face down in the dishwasher, place the caps in the utensil basket, and give them a whirl. They come out fantastic AND they don’t melt or loose their shape. When we need black, white, or brown I use Sax art cups with tops. They work great and keep the paint moist. I also like these because when the white gets too contaminated, I can just do a quick rinse and add more. I only add a small squeeze of paint into these containers and refill when needed. These are also great for premixed colors that you may use with some of your younger students. I know many people have used empty yogurt cups or food cups; but these are small and all the same size. As someone who doesn’t have much storage space in my classroom, having the uniformity of size helps keep it organized. When we hand out these cups, I use a disposable Solo plastic plate as the tray. They are cheap and reusable an easy for small hands to hold. Another paint that I discovered at the NAEA conference last year was Chromatemp Pearlescent Tempera paints. The kids LOVE anything with shimmer! Certain projects look fantastic with a little shine! This set has 15 different colors to use from the “rainbow” colors to metallics to neutrals. I put this paint into the cups with the tops as needed. Since there are so many choices in this set, I can give different classes working on the same project a couple different color palettes. So “Classroom A” will have these 6 to use while “Classroom B” may have these other 6 to use. It allows each class to have a little different looking project without giving each table 15 colors to use. We use these small 6-cup trays for mixing paint. The room had a large set of them when I first started...

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