Archive for the ‘Studio Favorites’ Category
Thursday, March 14th, 2013
As The Carle’s Public Art Program Educator, I have the unique challenge designing the drop-in art activities for The Studio’s ongoing Public Art Program that change every 4-6 weeks. If you follow our blog regularly you’re familiar with the variety of projects we offer: bookmaking, painting, sculpture, collage, drawing and printing to name a few! Whether our guests are novice art makers or seasoned veterans, anyone can try their hand at our current activity and use the materials at their level of expertise. One of the often overlooked details of designing each art project is figuring out the best way to organize the art materials guests will use at the tables in various sized baskets.
For one of our recent Public Art Projects, Mapping Makeover, I made some fun new labels to organize the drawing tools into warm, cool and neutral colors. To help our young guests learn the different color families, the paper liners are in bright colored paper by Canson. On each label I added small dots matching the drawing tools’ hues and familiar images from Eric Carle’s The Very Hungry Caterpillar in warm, cool or neutral colors. We use Avery templates in Microsoft Word to make all of our labels, very quick and easy! We use brass fasteners to attach the cardstock labels to the 3 different sizes of baskets in our collection.
The photos below are the basic steps for adding a label to a basket without tape. 1. Stick the label to a precut piece of cardstock that fits snugly on one side of the basket. 2. Use a bookmakers awl or another sharp tool to make a hole where you want your brass fastener to go. 3. Secure the fasteners to the back of the basket and add the materials. When the labels are not in use I store like-labels rubber-banded together in drawers by category, then they’re easy to find the next time we need them.
Sometimes we organize the paper in specific ways, like by the shape of the papers.
Other times the labels are more general, like “drawing tools” and “collage papers” so we can reuse the same labels for different projects.
We also design signage for specific projects to help guests take their projects further like, “How to make an accordion book”.
How do you organize the art supplies in your classroom or at home for children?
Don’t forget to enter The Carle’s Call for Caterpillars Contest for the chance to win an original doodle by Eric Carle! Visit www.carlemusuem.org/call_for_caterpillars for contest details.
Monday, December 31st, 2012
A year in the life of the Art Studio is full…
…full of color,
We’re grateful to be part of a Museum which works so hard to nurture a love of art and learning in the lives of children right here in Amherst and around the world. From Diana and I both, thanks for taking the journey with us. We’ll see you in 2013!
p.s. If you’re also passionate about the power of picture books, innovative education, and art (or any of those!) be a part of The Carle’s impact near and far! Please consider a gift to our annual fund.
Friday, September 7th, 2012
One of the things I do here at The Carle is lead studio activities for guided tours. The groups that come are primarily K-2nd grade classes, but we welcome preschool through seniors groups too.
Last spring’s guided-group project, inspired by the motivation behind Eric Carle’s creation of Slowly, Slowly, Slowly Said the Sloth, was to make a story about something important to you. Participating students could tell their story any way they chose- word and pictures, just words, just pictures. I offered pre-stapled blank books, markers, color sticks (colored pencils without the wood part) and the colorful pens pictured above. I selected these tools because they provide a range of marks- from broad and light to thin and vibrant, without the drying time required with wet media. When introducing the project, I pointed out that there were no erasers and asked each class to share suggestions with each other on what to do if they make a mistake or something they’re not happy with.
Using basic tools kept the working time concentrated on concept and story development rather than on becoming familiar with the materials. For many students there was no learning curve with the materials I offered, so they got to spend the majority of their time (approx. 40 minutes) on drawing and writing their ideas.
The pens, however, caused much excitement with the students. Many were thrilled to be allowed to use pens, and others were drawn to the beauty of the tool itself. They were a hit with their teachers too, who observed that the special pens helped the students feel that their work was important and their ideas were worthy of a special material. Many told me they’d be getting some for their classroom writing center.
A couple of great books I started (and haven’t yet finished) reading last winter inspired my materials selection:
Playful Learning by Mariah Bruehl and The Write Start by Jennifer Hallissy. Both books discuss how providing simple tools paired with time and a space for their use sends a clear message to young learners that their ideas are worthy of exploration. Both books also provide lots of activity ideas, resources and beautifully designed templates.
We ordered our pens from one of the school/art suppliers we typically order from, but I know colored pens can be found in all kinds of office supply, stationary, craft and other kinds of stores . In the Studio, we need retractable rather than capped pens. Caps just get lost or glued into projects here.
I love the quality of gel ink pens, but those average more than $1 per pen or $11-$18 per set and I always need at least 8 sets of everything for guided program activities. I found a line of pens called Wow Colors by Pentel for about $4.25 / pack of 8, which have worked out to be a good value. About 4-5 broke by the end of the school year due to students being uncertain as to how to unclick the pens, but they were used by hundreds of kids, so that’s not bad.
Need a go-to birthday gift for your children’s friends? A set of colored gel pens and a little notebook, totaling no more than $15, would be special for any child 5 and up. Younger than that, and I would recommend gifting a different type of drawing tool, and that is a discussion for another time.
Do you have a favorite kind of pen or other writing instrument for you child’s home art box or your classroom’s creative center? Please share!
Monday, August 6th, 2012
We’re busy making Tissue Paper Collages in the Art Studio again! This is probably the most popular project we do all year. Below are a couple fun facts about the materials we use during a typical Summer Public Art Project.
· Museum guests create over 3,000 tissue paper collages in the Art Studio during the 6-week program.
· We go through nearly 9 gallons of liquid starch glue for making collages (the average collage requires less than 1-ounce to stick together!).
· If we lined all of the collages up side by side, they would stretch for 2/3 of a mile!
For more information about making a tissue paper collage at home or in the classroom, visit our Activities web page and click on “Tissue Paper Collage,” “Watercolor Tissue Papers” or “Homemade Liquid Starch Glue.”
Here are a few of our blog posts about tissue paper collaging:
Intergenerational Collage Activity
Watercolor Paper 101
Watercolor Wash Collage Papers
This project ends on August 13th, so be sure to stop by before then to make your own!
Monday, April 16th, 2012
During our preparation this week for the next Public Art Project, I was reminded of how much we love using magazine paper for programs here at The Carle. From time to time we’ll acquire a stack of cooking or home magazines from someone’s attempts to clear out their clutter. We cut out interesting patterns or textures and organize them in baskets by color (plus one basket just for fun, crazy patterns!) and set them aside until we might need them.
We’ll be using magazine papers (as well as other types of paper) for the upcoming project The Shape Game, which starts this Wednesday the 18th. I took a moment to play around with the clippings when I was photographing the baskets, and very quickly made a color wheel.
The magazine papers are so much fun to arrange and sort! It’s just another great way to explore color, pattern and visual texture with children.
By coincidence, one of our regular visitors (and mom of three) Sara G. brought by a whimsical tree she recently made with magazine clippings and other materials she had at home. This is a great example of a project you could work on as a family or a class to really customize to the style. Bright colored papers and drawing tools make a ‘loud’ tree, or just pencil drawings on neutral colored papers make a ‘quiet’ tree. Or go all out and make a color wheel tree!
Sara collaged both sides of every leaf on the tree with a mix of patterns and colors. The leaves are ‘laminated’ between pieces of packing tape and attached to the branches with floral wire. They still have a lot of movement and when I was photographing the tree in our orchard, the leaves were flapping in the breeze just like the real thing. The branch is attached to a block of wood, which she collaged with paper and brown beads (to represent the roots).
I even love the surprise birds’ nest she tucked into one of the branches!
For another color wheel project Meghan made click here, or search keyword “color” in our search bar.
Do you save magazine clippings for collage at your home or in your classroom? what’s your sorting system?
Thanks for sharing your project with us Sara!
Tuesday, February 28th, 2012
Our studio space is blessed with an entire wall of windows on our South side. That means, in the months of short days, the sun’s glorious rays stream right in…to our eyes. That kind of direct light is great for feeling like a cat- relaxed and drowsy, but sometimes tricky for working.
As you can see, we’ve turned the slight architectural inconvenience into opportunity! Every November we break out the tension curtain rods and dream up aesthetically pleasing ways to shade our worktables. I’ve been a little obsessed with rainbows and the spectrum lately so with lots of help from our volunteer, Cindy, and more help from other volunteers we put this together.
The papers might remind you of Eric Carle’s pictures. Most of them were made in one of my Eric Carle Tissue Paper Workshops. The workshop goes over the nitty gritty of adapting Eric Carle’s processes and techniques to create unique collage papers with students or just yourself. Learn more about my workshop here.
You could make similar papers yourself or with kids using with paint, tools like our Silly Brushes, and tracing paper. We put the papers in plastic document sleeves and then used a 3-hole-puncher to make holes for the 1″ binder rings that connect the sleeves together. We’ve used this display method before and have noticed teachers and parents taking pictures and talking about how they would use the idea in their class or at home.
Is this idea inspiring to you? Tell us about how you might or have used tension rods, document sleeves, and binder rings in your home or classroom.
Thursday, February 9th, 2012
Last spring The Studio ran the Public Art Project Circle Circus, when visitors could use an array of geometric shapes to create a collage or three-dimensional assemblage. To mix things up a bit from a typical collage project, visitors could change the shapes any way they wished, but without the use of scissors. (Sneaky challenge, huh?) We prepared TONS of shapes ahead of time for the project: squares, rectangles, triangles and circles and arranged them on trays in labeled baskets.
Geometric shapes with straight sides are easy to prepare in advance with a paper cutter, but prepping lots of circles can be more challenging to cut by hand. After testing (and wearing out) several paper punches over the years, we’ve come to depend a couple of the best brands and styles whenever we need circles for the Public Art Programs and Workshops.
Our first favorite (shown above) is the adjustable Circle Cutter by Fiskars. The blade arm cuts circles between one and eight inches in diameter. The cutter locks in place as you twist the blade around, preventing shifting and cutting mistakes. Also, because it’s clear, it’s easy to position it anywhere to avoid wasting paper. The blade is sharp enough to cut through at least two sheets of construction paper at once. You will need a self-healing mat when using this cutter or you could slice right into your table.
Another one of our favorites for cutting circles is the Fiskars Squeeze Punch Round’ and Round’. We use the extra large 2-inch size, but this style punch is also available in other sizes. For this new design, Fiskars flipped the cut-out to the front so it’s easy to see exactly where you’re punched. Our volunteers love this style because it’s very easy to squeeze the handle without tiring out your hand. If you only have the budget to add one style to your arsenal, this in the punch you should own!
For very small circles we’ve recently been using Martha Stewart’s 1-inch punch. We prepare circles on strips of paper and hang on to them for future projects. Play with the spacing between each punch and the negative strips will be just as much fun to use in a collage as the shapes themselves.
Above are a couple of solutions to our “no scissors” challenge during Circle Circus. Do you have a favorite paper punch style or brand? Let us know, and maybe we’ll test it in The Studio!