Fan Club

Little girls just love sunglasses. Here are a few of my fans rockin’ my shades.

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Painted Ceramics

On Monday in the afternoon my Decorative Fine Arts Campers create decorative tiles, that become mini relief sculptures. They also create sculptures using the pinching and pulling technique. When it comes time to paint the finished, fired pieces I only do a brief demonstration and then let my students help themselves to paint (at this point during the week they are very familiar with the paint supplies) and get to work.

The Wonder of Fossils

On Thursday afternoons at the Decorative Fine Arts camp, we gather rocks and leaves and bits of plants to bring back into the classroom. Then, with all the lights dimmed, I tell my students the story of how I found my first fossil while canoing down the Shenandoah River. It goes something like, “we all stopped for lunch on a beach made of rocks and when I kicked one over …what do you know! I found a fossil!” I then pass that around. I also pass around a fossil my mothers plumber gave me, another one that belongs to  the camp owner, and another piece of fossilized crocodile poo that my dad got me as a gag gift for Christmas. You can imagine the reaction I get to that one. It is always some sort of collective mix of “ewwwww” and “ahhhhhh” followed by “awesome!” and “gross!”

After we talk a little about how we think fossils are made I demonstrate how we are going to make our own. First we will roll out the clay, just like we did while making our clay tiles Monday. Then we cut out a shape, just like we did while making our clay tiles Monday, except this time we don’t cut a square we cut off a one inch border and set it to the side. (The border will later become a wall) Then we roll the impression of some leaves on using the rolling pin, and press in shells. Using our border we create a wall that will keep our “instant rock” in place while it dries. (Plaster of Paris)

Friday morning after we are done making our accordion books the children discover that a hard white object has covered up their designs on their slabs of clay. “What is this?” “Where is my fossil?” I love these questions because I can always say, “I don’t know, why don’t you peel all of that clay off and find out!” and then TA_DA! an inverted replica of their design has now been discoverd on the underside of the white “instant rock”. I normally don’t like being crowded by students saying “look! LOOK!” but I make an exception for this project. I am happy that I have added an element of discovery to the project.

Even More Carousel!

Here are the final products of a week of very hard work. These students worked carefully and without much time. I am so proud of them and their finished works of art!

More Carousel

These pictures illustrate the intense process that the middle school and high school students went through to make their amazing sculptures. For the large scale animals it was a day of wrapping chicken wire around the armatures and creating the form, followed by papier-mache and then paint. For the mini carouselers it was modeling modeling modeling and finally painting all the pieces of the carousel before it could be assembled with hot glue.

The beginning of the Carousel of Animals

This past week was a break from my 9 weeks of elementary aged campers and instead it was a week of large scale sculpture classes with 12-16 year old artists. This camp was called Carousel of Animals.

I had 17 students ranging in age from eleven and a half to sixteen going on seventeen. They arrived at 9am Monday morning, and right away I had them find a seat at the tables where I had laid out paper and pencils. Once everyone had arrived the camp director, Sinclair Hamilton, and I spoke to them describing the activities and possibilities available to them that week. They would either be creating a large scale sculpture of an animal using chicken wire and papier-mâché or they would be making a miniature carousel using modeling clay, dowels, and cardboard.

After our introduction we took them to the Carousel, Glen Echo Park’s only ride still working, built in 1921. The Carousel was closed for business Monday but we had previously arranged that a park ranger let us in. First, I had all of the artists draw the carousel animals from observation. They drew an entire animal, and then a portrait or close-up of one part of an animal. After they finished those drawings they began to draw an animal that they would like to make. Either for their small carousel or for their large papier-mâché sculpture.

Afterwards we had lunch, and student spent the second half of the day turning their sketches into large scale drawings. We only had three campers interested in creating minature carousels so they spent the second half of the day creating wire armatures for their modeling-clay sculptures.

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