Thursday, March 13, 2014

3rd Grade Collagraph Quote Prints

Finished board - letters placed as mirror image.
Finished print of the board above. Sweeeeeeeet.
I can't tell you enough how much I enjoy printmaking. It's just fantastic. I graduated from Columbus College of Art & Design without ever taking a single printmaking class. I was an illustration major and simply didn't have time to fit any printmaking classes into my schedule. I've slowly created a pretty good printmaking lesson for each elementary grade level I teach. This is a new lesson for this school year and I think the results speak for themselves. I got the idea from The Calvert Canvas Blog through Pinterest and modified it to fit well for my 3rd grade students. 

This has been the year of writing new lessons for each grade level. One of the goals I had this year was to create at least two new lesson plans for each grade level. It looks like I'll be able to hit my goal pretty easily. Every time I add a new lesson, it's like a little burst of fresh energy into the art program. I added this lesson for two main reasons. First, I hadn't had a 3rd grade printmaking project previous to this year. Second, collagraph printmaking was a nice step up from the 2nd grade "Wild Things" project.

The goal for this lesson was for students to choose a quote that had personal meaning. After choosing their quotes, students did two typography layout sketches, did a quick critique with a friend, then did a final sketch. Each student got a piece of foam (see the top image) and drew out their quote as block or bubble letters. They then cut them out (with me cutting insides of smaller letters with an x-acto knife) and arranged them as a mirror image of their quote on a piece of chip board. This was a pretty challenging step for many students. I think next year I'll get out a few mirrors so students can self check their work. 

Once I OK'd the mirror layout of the typography, students glued down the letters with a glue stick. I had everyone do a clear coat of acrylic medium on top in order to seal the chip board. I had dreams of them being easily cleaned off, but I realized soon after the first class printed that we wouldn't be able to save the printing boards. I do think that the acrylic helped to provide extra adhesive power for the letters. A few kids that didn't coat their work well with acrylic did loose a few letters when inking their board with a brayer. I may try substituting Elmer's glue for the glue sticks next year and skip the acrylic. I'm still super pumped about this lesson. It will be an art show star this spring. 

(The full lesson plan will be coming soon...it currently exists as some notes and sketches on a scrap of drawing paper. You know how it is...) 

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Storing In-Process Clay Projects

I have gotten several questions recently about keeping clay projects moist for longer periods of time. I've got ten minutes, so I'll give you a quick overview of what I do. I'm sure this isn't the only way to do it, but this method has worked for me for many years. 


Step 1 - Put clay projects onto a cafeteria tray with a layer of paper towels
underneath. I always label the tray with the teacher's name on a piece of tape.
Step 2 - Grab 4-6 paper towels per tray. Wet them,
 then squeeze them so they aren't too wet.
Step 3 - Drape the damp paper towels over the projects.
Step 4 - Place the whole tray in a plastic garbage bag.
(I get mine from our awesome custodian.) I then fold the open
end under the tray and label the bag with the teacher's name. 
Using this method, I can keep clay projects wet almost indefinitely. Just re-wet the paper towels a bit after each class. If there is a longer break in the middle of a project, I'll just squirt a little water into each bag to make up for any loss of moisture. 

Monday, March 3, 2014

1st Grade Cave Art

Cave art- the perfect project for young artists. Primitive art simply comes naturally to a first grader. My first grade students recently finished a cave art project. We learned that a group of young boys from France actually discovered the famous cave at Lascaux. First graders got a chance to discuss why people make art. We decided that early humans made art to tell stories about their lives. A big part of their lives were the animals that they lived around and hunted. 

To get in the proper cave art mood, certain steps are necessary. One can't make good cave art in a modern art room with bright fluorescent lights. The lights must be off and the shades of the windows must be closed. Next, a dark cave needs a fire to provide light for the artist. I found a video of a camp fire online that I played on a loop. The crackling sounds of the fire allowed my students to be fully immersed in the idea that they were in a real cave. 

I gave my students a handout with several animal choices. Simple ones included step by step instructions while there were also more challenging animals on the back page. Each student drew and colored their animal and "signed" their work with a hand print. The final work was crumpled and carefully torn around the edges to make it look like it really came from a cave.


Click here to download the lesson plan!

Click here to download the drawing handout!
(The handout was partially compiled by a former student teacher. I tried to find the source of her handouts, but was unable. If you know where they came from, let me know so I can give credit!)

Click here to download my artist statement!