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.
Happy, Healthy and Creative
Tis the season for holiday parties, lots of celebrations, Chanukah, Christmas, Kwanzaa, and New Year’s Eve. It is also a great time for talking about texture, fiber art and planning for Youth Art Month.
DARN YARN! Keeli Singer from John Evans Middle School in Potosi, Missouri, keeps her skeins of yarn in a small laundry basket, with the end of each skein sticking out of the holes.
This keeps students from unwinding the wrong “outer” end of the yarn and it keeps it from becoming a tangled mess. If you don’t have a laundry basket handy, just do the same with a cardboard box and poke holes in the side.
Art teacher Andrea Schneider from Alma Schrader Elementary School in Cape Girardeau, Missouri, also has yarn problems. Her yarn station was always one big giant knot during fiber projects. She tried the big box that comes with the holes in the top, but every time the yarn slipped down through the hole, she had to lift the lid up and re-thread ALL the yarn.
She came up with the idea of individual containers for each yarn ball. No tangling, no wrangling—and no gigantic, snarly mess! Andrea used large cottage cheese, sour cream and yogurt containers and cut holes in the lids for feeding the yarn through. Whether you use Keeli’s method or Andrea’s, your art teacher life is bound to be a little bit better using these solutions!
BATIK FOR ALL. The technique of batik dates to the ancient times of Egypt, China, Japan and Indonesia. Wax is an important part of the process, but it can also be accomplished by using a mixture of flour and water.
Mix the flour and water together until it is a somewhat thick paste—but you should still be able to paint with it. Use the paste as if it were the wax. When the mixture is dry, you can scrunch up the fabric to cause the paste to crack a bit. Then, place it into the dye bath (cold-water dyes work best with this technique). Remove the fabric from the bath and, when the fabric is dry, remove the flour paste by peeling or scraping it off.
Here is another “faux” batik technique. My students drew designs of Australian animals and traced them with a black permanent marker. They then taped the paper to the table and placed a piece of white cotton fabric over it.
They melted white candle wax in crayon melters and then, following their designs which were visible underneath, applied the wax to the cotton using wooden skewers. It took a few minutes to get the hang of applying the wax, but they did a pretty good job. When all the wax was applied, they painted the cotton with watered- down fluorescent tempera paint. When it was dry, I ironed off the wax and the students’ “batiks” looked great!
YOUTH ART MONTH. I know it’s only December, but it is time to start thinking about Youth Art Month (YAM), which will be here in March. Here are some ideas you can start planning so they will be ready in time.
How about having your annual art show during March? At my school, we combine our art show with our multicultural event. It is a fundraiser for our school, and we presell tickets, which become raffle tickets, for this huge annual event. Throughout the year my NJAHS students carry around donation letters and collect many gift cards from restaurants, cafes, and local small businesses. The kids are a big part of the art event. They especially love dressing up as famous artists and greeting our guests!
We are a K–8 school (Franklin Academy in Pembroke Pines, Florida) and one of our elementary teachers, Emily Deacon, creates installations for the families to visit. Last year she had a tearoom, where she served tea to the guests and showed off the Japanese teacups her students made. The next room over was her Pop art clay doughnut exhibit and yes, you guessed it, there were mini doughnuts to taste!
We have also had posters around the school featuring different artists, artists’ quotes and blurbs about careers in art. Each year, the art room is converted into our ever-popular “Black Light Room.” We pick a theme for it and the fifth- through eighth-graders create the art to fill the space.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY to Otto Dix (Dec. 2, 1891), Stuart Davis (Dec. 7, 1892), Camille Claudel (Dec. 8, 1864), Frederick Hundertwasser (Dec. 15, 1928), Masaccio (Dec. 21, 1401), and David Alfaro Siqueiros (Dec. 29, 1986).
Thank you Keeli, Andrea, and Emily for these great tips. May you all have a very happy, healthy and creative holiday season. See you next year!
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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