Monday, June 15, 2015

glazing and grouting away!

Last week, 1st grade classes made small styrofoam stamps that were printed all together to become a collaborative piece. (I'll post about that a lil later;) After that, they glazed the kindergarten mosaics. The kids had a blast with both things. Over the weekend, I put together a couple of the finished mosaics. I think they're turning out pretty fly, if I do say so myself:)

We will have 7 total when done. Most will be installed in the kindergarten building to give this newish building some much needed color. I'm hoping to auction/sell a couple of them at our annual Celebration of Art in a few weeks... which brings me to another point.

Much of our art programming is funded through our PTF. 2 artists in residence and our art supplies are paid through the fundraising efforts of this organization. Unfortunately, this year has been extremely tough for a number of reasons and they are WAY short of the funds needed to sustain the program. What I do at Zamo is only part of the full art experience our kids get at Zamo- our artists in res do amazing things with our students- fashion, traditional & digital photo, sculpture, book arts... I could go on and on, but the fact is, our art program would look dramatically different for our kids without the efforts of these 2 amazing educators. Oh, and to do all these amazing things we actually need to purchase supplies... So, if you enjoy reading about and seeing what our Zamo kids do, if you have ever pinned ideas or been just plain ol' inspired from this here art blog, then please consider going to our PTF's gofundme page and show us some love:) You'll be happy you did!

Saturday, June 6, 2015

who needs the gym when you have a slab roller?

Ab and arm toner 2.0

The 3rd graders have been working with clay the past 2 weeks as part of their texture unit. This project was inspired by ceramic guru John Post and his robot jar project. I started out by introducing texture and then we looked at a few jars that John did with his students and looked at the different ways the texture of the clay was altered. I also talked about how the students would need to change the texture of their clay to add on any parts. They would have to score parts (rough up the texture) and add slip to glue parts together.
John's examples.

John used an extruder to make the cylinders for his jars and parts. We do have an extruder, but it hadn't been used in a few years, so when I went to use it (the morning of the first lesson;) I ran into some technical difficulty. So, we ended up using the good ol' slab roller to make lots of thin rectangular prisms to make our cylinders. Whew... as long as you alternate sides when you crank the clay through, it's a pretty darn good ab and arm workout all week long. It brought back memories of my days as a textile screen printer when, after pulling a squeegee all day on some pretty demanding projects, I promptly went to bed right after dinner... but I digress;)

Once students made their cylinders, they were free to add any parts that would make their robot/creature interesting. I emphasized decorating the whole form and not just the front. I  modeled several ways to stack different size parts and I also showed them how they could press tools into the clay to change it's surface and add more decoration. 

I had students construct their parts as a group and then add them to their cylinder, in order to give that shape a little time to stiffen up. 

This week, the 3rd graders glazed their pieces. I let them use a variety of colors. I emphasized making sure to put on 2 or 3 layers of glaze, so their pieces had the proper gloss and color intensity.

she got this technique from me;)

Students move from table to table to glaze.

This week, the kinders also got to play with a little more clay... and I got to continue my slab roller workout regiman;) Last week they made paper mosaics inspired by the work of Jim Bachor and this week they made tiles for real mosaics for each classroom. 

This kinder project was inspired by the clay work of Amy Sanders, who creates sculptural objects with different slabs of textured and patterned clay. 

Each student got 3 pieces of clay- a small square, medium rectangle, and a large square. We used pencils and legos to change the texture of each piece of clay. They used just the pencil on the small, just lego on the medium, and both on the large. The kids thought this was SO cool... especially the lego part:) I showed them different ways to hold each tool to make different types of marks. I emphasized pressing soft enough so that they didn't punch all the way through the clay. 

When they were done and had earned center time, I trimmed the pieces and assembled a classroom arrangement for the mosaic. With each class, we actually made more tiles than we needed, but I made sure to include at least 2 tiles or 2 parts of tiles from each student in the mosaic. 

My plan is to have 1st graders glaze these pieces next week and assemble them on backing board, thin set, and grout the week after that. We may sell a couple as a school fundraiser and others could be installed to add public art to our new kinder building which, as of now, is a blank slate...
from start to finish.

ELA connection.

 4 of 7 class mosaics. each is 2' square.

One last thing... I shared the kinder popsicle project with Jim Bachor and he was thrilled! He was kind enough to send me some postcards and stickers and I promptly used them to recognize kids that had been super respectful during their time with me. He also sent a shirt along to trade with one kindergarten student. The student got a shirt and Jim will get their paper mosaic to hang in his art studio:) So rad!


Super stoked!

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

street sweets!

This week I'm chillin' with my kinders and we are using the most awesome mosaics by Jim Bachor to learn a little bit about texture in nature and art.

Jim has been buzzing all over the interwebs lately, and for good reason- his mosaic series of cool treats that are filling potholes in Chicago and elsewhere are super rad! You can use his work to introduce students to a variety of elements- texture, color value, 3d solids, art historical movements/techniques, and the purpose and place of art in society.

With my littles, we have been looking at how Jim uses light and dark colors to make his images look 3d, how the tiles feel different than the cement and road they are placed in, and the fact that these artworks are out in public, actually placed in the street, and not in an art gallery or museum.

I have been sharing some photos of his mosaics from the art blog Colossal and the kids are getting such a kick out of his work and subject. It really is such a great hook to get students engaged. If you follow him on instagram, you can see some more behind the scenes stuff too:)

After we look at Jim's work, we take a little on campus field trip- out to the playground with our black color sticks and white paper to do a rubbing of the black top and then over to one of the mosaics we did with students a few years back, so the kids can actually feel the difference between the tile surfaces and grout.


Then we come back in and cut out a large grey popsicle shape- larger than the actual pop to simulate the space and color of the grout of a mosaic. Kids pick a color for their treat and add white to a a third, leave a 3rd the color, and add black to the other third. We cut those parts up to little squares and rectangles (keeping them sorted and stacked in the process:) so that we can glue those onto the gray shape on the rubbing paper. I emphasize leaving little spaces between the pieces to simulate the look of a mosaic. Also, when we glue the pieces on, I show them how to put lines of glue on the gray paper, so they don't have to put glue on each individual piece.

And finito- the kinders have a delicious looking intro to texture, all thanks to Jim and the long line of mosaic artists that have come before!

Friday, May 22, 2015

glazing away.

The 5ths have been glazing their modified coil pots all week. Many trips back and forth to the kilns. I'm tired:)  Next week it will be the 3rd graders turn to work with clay... stay tuned!

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

colorful invaders.

This week the 2nd graders are adding color to their invader tiles. I took a page out of Cassie Stephens playbook and am having them do a crayon resist painting instead of glazing the tiles. This allows for a lot of color variety and saves me from loading a lot of large flat pieces at a time when kiln space is at a premium.
an invader in space!

The kids are really enjoying the process. I emphasize that they should try and use either light or dark crayon colors and then paint with the opposite. 

The kids are doing exit slips that get them reflecting on what texture is and how thy used it in their work. As students are finishing up I go around and slap a few brush loads of gloss varnish on the tiles to give them that "we weren't fired, but kinda look like we could have been" clear coat;)

Some kids are being very controlled with their color work.

Other students are being more expressive and free with their color application.