Wednesday, April 30, 2014

shrinkin' and dinkin'.

I LOVE shrinky dinks! Back in the day, my wife made a lot of really cool jewelry with it. We also did ornaments for our xmas trees a while back that are still some of my favorites to put up:)

This is the first year, though, that I have attempted to use the material with kids at school on a grade level scale. Seven 5th grade classes with 30 students each... let's do this!

I discovered the work of Vermont based artist Erin Inglis online. She makes way cool jewelry with shrinky dink material. I love her use of shape, pattern, and color. Her work fits well with the 5th grade investigation of unity on conceptual and visual levels.

I've been sharing numerous pieces by Erin with my classes, pointing out her repetition of shape, line, and color to create a sense of unity. If she uses just one shape in a piece, she will break up it's interior with smaller shapes. We are also looking at how she sometimes assembles a few seperate pieces to create a larger whole, like a necklace and that these pieces don't have to be exactly the same. This variety of form and/or concept makes her pieces more interesting to wear or see.

For this project I asked the students to create a piece or several pieces that are based on the use of one or two shapes a few times. Each students has a 4x5" piece of plastic to work with. I emphasize that if they want a statement piece, something big, that they need to draw it as big as possible because the material will shrink in my toaster oven to 1/3 of it's original size. I think this has been the hardest part for the students to grasp. As they watch their pieces shrink in the oven, they are continually amazed at how small their pieces become.

I have students sketch out ideas and then trace the ones they want to use on the plastic. They can then outline in sharpie and color with crayola color sticks. The pieces are cut out, baked, and then strung, hung on ear rings, or rolled as rings.

The kids are loving this project. I'm going to have a hard time getting kids to part with their wearables for our art show at the end of the year!

If you are looking at a cool science connection to this project, you could talk about why the shrinky dinks shrink like they do. You can also tie in math and fractions since the material shrinks to 1/3 of it's original size. Students can estimate the final size of their designs in a quick sketch and then compare that sketch with the final "dink".

even this old guy got into the act;)

Monday, April 28, 2014

just keep swimming...

We are back in session at Zamo after a wonderful month long spring break, that for me, began with the tremendous NAEA conference and ended with a fabulous family camping trip up in Malibu.

This week the 2nd graders are focusing on symmetry, analogous colors, and purpose in art with the help of artist Erik Abel. I have used Erik's work a few times the past couple of years to help kids explore color, style, and value.

We are looking at a couple of skateboard designs that he made to support the San Diego chapter of the Surfrider Foundation. Not only does Erik do some very cool visual work, but he is also very generous with his skills and work to support various causes and groups.

There is a cool time lapse video of Erik creating the two decks on vimeo.

Students identify how there are parts of the decks that are mirror images of each other, that show symmetry. The students also pick up on the areas that don't show symmetry. I also point out that Erik often uses colors that go well together, color families.

When students get designing, they choose one of these families to work with, as well as white,black, gray, and browns.

The decks are made by folding the brown paper to create a line of symmetry and drawing only half of their fish shape. This is glued to black paper and trimmed to create a border around the fish. Students break up the fish into 3 or 4 parts and draw patterns in pencil. 

Cool results so far and I'm looking forward to more:)

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

spring break.

Entering our 3rd week of spring break. One more to go after this! For those of you that are not aware, Zamorano is on a modified year round schedule. We have 4 weeks in the winter, 4 in the spring, and 6 in the summer. I love our schedule. It provides plenty of time to recharge, reflect, and plan.

During these breaks I always think I will do more blog updates than I ever do. I have been disappointed with myself about this in the past, but I have come to realize that it's important for me to take a bit of a break from blog writing during these times as well. Just like with teaching, when I come back to it I feel fully charged and enthused about the process.

This break I have done some drawing, although not the type I thought I would be doing. I have had the time to hang out with my family and I have continued to play with dolls:) So much, in fact, that I decided to put a little book together using Blurb. It's over 40 pages of photos I've taken of "my son's" Star Wars action figures at various locations in and around socal.

I'm stoked to get my copy in the mail in a week or so. If it looks cool, I'm going to make it available as an actual book and as an ebook. Stay tuned...