Friday, January 10, 2014

Chinese Lotus Books

I feel like I start so many posts in this fashion, BUT, this is a lesson I got at our state conference, hmmmm, probably more than 10 years ago. I actually hadn't done it in FOREVER, but I pulled it out for this group of sixth graders. Part of the reason I hadn't done it in a while is because (and I'm going to sound really old here) glue has really changed in the past 15 years.  It no longer stands up when dry, and I really need it to for this project.  So what's a happy art teacher to do?  Substitute Model Magic or Cloud Clay, of course!

This is the cover.  Years ago, the butterfly would've been made
with a glue line.  We used Model Magic/Cloud Clay.

This is the book open, in it's "lotus blossom" form.
As always, we start our Chinese unit with a smart notebook activity, and you can get it here, just make sure you download the one that says "Chinese Culture and Art".  We spend one class period doing the smart notebook lesson and taking notes in our Asian Art Books (I really should've blogged about that lesson, but alas, I did not!).  When they take their notes, I don't have them write all of the symbols, I just have them choose one and write their choice and it's meaning in their books.  I leave this screen up for a bit for them to choose:

The next time they come to art, I meet them at the door and give each student four 12 x 12 papers.  They get a pencil on the way to their seat, and write their name on each one.  Near their names, I have them write WARM on one, COOL on one, NEUTRAL on one and FREE on one.  We then review those color schemes and they get to work painting with watercolors.  The can only have white showing on their neutral and free choice pages--warm and cool have to be FULLY painted.  I've noticed that sixth graders kind of take their time painting, they're at that self-critical age where they want everything to be perfect.

Free choice.

Cool (same student as above).
Sometimes the painting goes on just FOREVER, so we take a little break and make our symbols on leftover 6 x 6 cardboard/matboard/foamboard/what-ever-I-have-laying-around.  This year it was foam board.  I have them draw their symbol out first, and I check it before the get their Model Magic/Cloud Clay--I check that they're not too small, or have too many details, because those things will make it too difficult and students will get very frustrated.

Students must GLUE their Model Magic/Cloud Clay coils,
or they'll pop off when dry.

We then wait for our covers/symbols to dry, so we finish up our paintings.
When our covers/symbols are dry, they become our printing plates for our four paintings:

This time I wised up and used tempera instead of printing ink:
less sticky, so our pages didn't tear when the books
were put together.

After all that is finally done I show them how to fold them.  They fold the square paper in half (paint on the inside), unfold and fold it in half the other direction (paint on inside) and then ONE TIME into a triangle (paint on the outside).  If they do it correctly, it sort of "pops" in so that it folds in on itself:

After folding their four pages, they line them up so all the folds and openings match, and then they glue them together.  Now it's only a matter of gluing on their cover, coloring it with oil pastel, and adding an "About the Artist" sheet on the back.  I love the little details in the About the Artist profile, and if students hang on to them, I think they'll really like looking back at their sixth grade selves in a few years.


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