Tried & True Tips for Art Teachers is a monthly roundup of advice and wisdom
from fellow art teachers, put together by the intrepid Glenda Lubiner.
Fun with Fibers
“I am not what I am, I am what I do with my hands.” — Louise Bourgeois
It is already December and I feel like I have barely touched the surface of the pile of lessons I have planned for this year. My middle-school students are excited about making art and that makes me even more excited and motivated to teach them, engage them, and turn them into critical thinkers and art leaders. Fibers, fabrics and textures are the focus for December and I have some great tips to help you through this last month of the year.
Yarn Barn There are so many things you can do with yarn from kindergarten through 12th grade. Yarn paintings are a great place to start with your primary students. Have the students dip pieces of yarn in either tempera paint or liquid watercolors. They can then drag the yarn on the paper. I have had students do warm or cool color paintings using this technique.
Have your older students create a design by gluing pieces of yarn on tag board. They can use one color or multiple colors, depending on the finished project. In addition to the glued yarn, students can add more colors with paint or oil pastels.
Another project that any of your third- through 12th-grade students can make are Huichol yarn paintings. The Huichol Indians are from Mexico’s Sierra Madre Occidental region. Your students can create yarn paintings by using white glue to adhere the yarn onto mat board.
Wallpaper—Not Just for Your Screen Saver Wallpaper is a wonderful way to add color, texture and fiber to your paintings, collages, and drawings, or use as your primary surface. Free wallpaper books are usually available at your local hardware or design stores when the new season begins. Visit your local stores and ask them to save them for you.
Handmade paper Handmade paper is one of my favorite lessons to do with my students and yes, I have even made paper with kindergarten students. All you need is a blender, a big vat of water and some screens. Send out a letter to parents asking for old blenders; the more you get, the better (I use them to make slip and mix large quantities of paint). Yard sales and thrift shops are a great place to find one as well. I also use a lot of recycled paper to create new paper. If you have a budget you can buy some cotton rag pulp and add food coloring or paint to change the color. Screens can be purchased at your local hardware store as well for a minimal fee.
Weaving is another art form you can do with K–12 students. The little ones can use paper to weave. You can use any combination of colors on the color wheel. This is a great way to teach color theory. As the students get older they can make their own cardboard looms from scrap cardboard or boxes and start to incorporate yarn and fabric into their weavings.
Another great lesson is to have older students create two drawings that are similar. They can do one in light values and one in dark, or one in graphite and one in colored pencils. Once the drawings are complete, they can cut them and weave them together. The outcome of these weavings is magnificent.
Other ways to enhance your weavings is to add three-dimensional objects such as twigs, shells or even two-dimensional objects like photos. Have your students try weaving with wire and turn the weavings into sculptures after they are off the looms.
Painting or Printing on Fabric Time to think about Faith Ringgold and all of her story quilts. The quilts can be a starting point for anything having to do with fiber, fabric or textures. I have had my second-graders make a story quilt with burlap, yarn, scrap fabric and paint. They were a great success.
Wishing you all a great winter break and if you are looking for a great museum to visit, look in to visiting Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Ark. I had a wonderful visit there over the summer and I highly recommend this museum to all.
Happy Birthday to Georges Seurat (Dec. 2, 1859), Diego Rivera (Dec. 8, 1886), Friedensreich Hundertwasser (Dec. 15, 1928), Wassily Kandinsky (Dec. 16, 1866), and Louise Bourgeois (Dec. 25, 1911). Speaking of Kandinsky, be sure to check out Amanda Koonlaba’s “Art Is at the Core” on page 11.
Arts & Activities Contributing Editor Glenda Lubiner (NBCT) teaches art at Franklin Academy Charter School in Pembroke Pines, Fla. She is also an adjunct professor at Broward College.
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