Sunday, April 30, 2017

Last Kiln Firing Of The Year

It seems like every year I feel like the school year is going on and on and then suddenly TIME'S UP.  While I didn't wait until the very last minute to get all the clay projects done, (looking at you, 2016), I did feel a twinge of worry about getting it all done in time.  I've learned that my [older, but still working] kiln does much better (and fires faster) when it's FULL, so I filled it:

Top three shelves were second grade bells (simply a pinch pot, turned upside down with animal features added and two holes poked through to add a small sphere that you can see grouped in the middle).

Then there was one shelf of glaze-fired tiles from a Mayco workshop I attended at conference (and I told two others who live near me I'd fire theirs).  We used stencils and some different glazes--it's very similar to this lesson I found on the Mayco lesson plans site.  I am thinking of doing a parent/child fundraiser next year with something similar (and maybe if I write it here I'll actually remember to do it!)

We used some silk-screens and I missed part of my "L"

. . . but Heather didn't!

And then the bottom shelf was the sixth grade tiny painted houses (African tribe inspired):

They're even more luscious now!

I did have six (!) students who didn't want theirs, so I totally snagged them and have them displayed behind my desk because they're AWESOME and I LOVE THEM.
Second graders (of course) knew that their bells were amazing, and they did an equally amazing job painting them:

Action shot!

We use tempera block paint for it's fast drying time
and then add a layer of gloss medium for permanency and shine.

You can kind of see the cotton string here that I use to tie the bell part in.
I use cotton twine so they can paint it.
I prepare the bells (tie the little sphere in) before students arrive.

Whew!  I'm tired.  Good thing summer is only 16 school days away!

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Some Things That Are Working (And A Few Things That Aren't)

Mid way through this school year, some clay issues popped up.  Art teachers is several buildings were having issues with clay projects cracking completely in two as they dried, the clay texture straight out of the bag was odd. . .Our clay supplier had switched clay suppliers, and an [almost] emergency professional development session was held to try and fix the clay issues.  In that PD session, the clay guru guy said "you should never be drying clay completely uncovered." Um, great, except my room is tiny??? And I see nearly 500 students in that room??? His suggestion was this movable/on wheels clay cart with fancy plastic sheeting.  Great, except soopa expensive! 
Here was my solution:

Ta DA! It's an old library cart, shelves covered with newspaper, with a plastic table cloth draped over.  Works perfectly.  And after all of that, it turned out that the clay teachers were having trouble with got frozen somewhere along the way.

Also working, keeping water ready to go for painting at one end of the sink at all times:

Love my square/nearly un-tippable cups!
"Cause ain't no one got time for filling water cups while passing out brushes and paint!

Suddenly NOT WORKING this year, my pencil sharpeners on yarn:

Note that four out of five are missing!
Ultra low-tech (as in none) and totally working, my reminder sign for my kiln:

Why, yes, that IS a kiln cage right there in the corner of my classroom!
Thanks so much for asking!
I use a dry erase marker and write the time I need to turn it up, because A) I have a manual kiln and B) I've been known to totally forget and run it on low fore many more hours than I need/want to.

Also working this year, new signage for the paper cutter:

I sat in a student chair before the year began this year to re-evaluate
signs I needed students to see.  This one was added.

This sign has always been ON the paper cutter but is a bit above kid-height.
Not working well this year:

Fifth grade Gustav Klimt project

It's SO HARD to scratch!  I really think it's because it's been in my cabinet for a while and it's along an un-insulated wall, so it's got hot/cold for several years.  Super frustrating!
Well, I'm sure there are more things working/not working around here (me, some days!) and I like to re-evaluate at this time of the year.  You know, AFTER the art show (moving it to early March is my favorite thing we ever did!) when I have a chance to think again.
Happy art teaching, friends, the end is in sight!

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

"I'm a Really Good Dancer."

Nothing like spending your day with kids.  Yesterday (or was it the day before?) I had kindergarten lined up in the hall for their teacher and the student at the end of the line was gettin' DOWN: spinning, hip-shaking, groovin'.  All silently.  He spun around and put his hand on his hip and said "You know, I'm a REALLY good dancer!"  It was amazing.  
It's all those little moments that make being an elementary art teacher the best thing.  And the projects that turn out so unexpectedly wonderful, like these tiny painted houses my sixth graders made:

They're TINY, like an inch or two.  I gave each student a tiny little amount of clay and just had them use their hands to flatten it out.  They then used some clay tools to cut a house shape and the Designer Liners underglaze for decoration. Students were also told to use a straw to cut a hole (or two) to hang their houses when finished.
 I had given each student a small (maybe 4 x 6) piece of pink tagboard with their name on it so I could just add their name after they left.  I love them all, and if any child doesn't want theirs I'm totally keeping it!

This student is originally from Iran,
and I love that she made double doors.
I bisque fired them and then decided they all needed a clear coat of glaze, so they're in the kiln ready for firing again.  I'll take a photo of them finished.
Happy spring, everyone!  Only six more weeks or so!
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