Purple Twig- Art Exploration for kids. A mom run small business in Los Angeles. Stop by to see the trials and tribulations.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Welcome to Purple Twig- a studio tour

Purple Twig has a different feel when its full of students and families all experiencing making art together and those times when the studio is quiet and empty of bodies. 
I opened my doors to the Purple Twig in Los Angeles, CA in the neighborhood of Eagle Rock 6 years ago and it has gone through some wonderful changes since then, artwork has filled the walls, donations of materials from our incredible families has filled our shelves and students have filled our chairs. 



I thought it would be nice to share some images of our studio with you. Creating a space that is warm, welcoming and one that will inspire discussion, curiosity and a sense of freedom is important to the process of exploring materials and ideas.


The studio is in a neighborhood that is very family friendly and is accessible from many different neighborhoods in Los Angeles.


Sometimes artwork spills out onto the sidewalks, onto the trees and telephone polls and into nearby alleys. We do like to utilize the neighborhood for displaying our works. This is a piece that was created in our Textile Summer Camp, where students wove fabrics into the cardboard after painting onto it. Luckily most of our business neighbors are accommodating to our works of art. 




My desk is the first thing people see when they walk in. It gives me a place to look official and busy even if I am just reading some article from the newspaper off my computer. I bought it at a garage sale along with my vintage, it actually might be an antique now, cash register.


Our studio is divided into two spaces using the shelves of supplies at a separator. The front room is used for our toddler classes and the younger groups during our camps.



We offer smocks to our kids and families. Kids can have anxiety about getting in trouble for getting their clothes dirty. The last thing we want is anxiety inhibiting students from making choices in their methods of creating artworks.


We offer students the freedom to use anything on these shelves during open studio on Saturdays. We may have some examples of ways to use the materials out on tables so that kids understand that they are allowed to push their ideas in art making during this time, but for the most part kids are eager to get their hands on the materials to make things.


We are lucky enough to have a lot of our families donate materials to us, from mint tins, to egg cartons, to wine corks to these Japanese flipflop tops. The kids always find a way to use what we give them.



Our story carpet is an important part of the studio. We use it to read to the younger children to help them with their verbal skills and to inspire their artworks. For our Toddler Classes we will choose a book to read that is linked to the art project we are about to embark on.  It's a way of instilling the idea of research at a young age. During our camps it is an important area for kids to relax, talk, read and play games when taking a break from art making.


These sinks can be such a thrill to the toddlers that come into the studio. Having sinks their size is another way to let children know that this is a safe place for them where their needs are considered.
Many little ones may spend most of their time on the first day in our studio at these sinks, squealing with delight and washing anything they can get their hands on.


We also have a back space in the studio for our older students during both after school classes and camps. We offer clip boards to each of our students to keep their drawings on during the week long camps. It's another way to keep the studio organized, because we do a lot of drawing during our camps. It's such an important way to allow kids to develop both hand-writing skills, drawing skills and their own ideas.


We have more materials donning our shelves in the back part of our studio. We pack them in baskets, vintage pots , glass jars found at thrift stores and even drawers pulled from vintage furniture. We use what we find whether it be materials or containers.




Our students are really what keep our space feeling creative, warm and full of vitality. The children, whether age 2 or age 10 are really up for exploring whatever materials and projects I offer them. It's such pleasure to watch and participate in. 

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Gigantic Snowflakes



One of the attributes of Instagram that I enjoy is the connections with art educators from all over the world, whether one might teach in a school or whether one might own their studio or if one is teaching to their own children at home, there are so many creative thinkers out there which I would never have the opportunity to communicate with otherwise. Shannon Merenstein from Hatch Studio in Pittsburg. PA, is someone that I have been emailing with since before she opened her studio last year.  I feel lucky to have her to share project ideas, as well as the ups and downs of owning a small business connected to teaching art to children. I think,  like me, she believes that we are creating a space for children and families to provide hope and healing and a safe place to explore not only materials but also ideas, critical inquiry and themselves.


Last week I saw these incredible big paper stars on the Hatch Studio Instagram feed. She got the idea  from the feed of another art educator in the Pacific Northwest at the Honeybee Playschool. It's a bit like the telephone game we play with kids where the children whisper something to each other and each person has their own interpretation of what they heard until it turns into a very different idea.
At Purple Twig our idea was snowflakes. So we made gigantic snowflakes. 


Now this project is right up my alley. It's made using simple recycled materials to create something dramatic and unusual. Someone donated a large stack of small paper bags to us a while ago and I have never known what to do with them so I gave 12 bags and a glue stick to the kids and they them glue together one bag on top of the other.


They then drew a zig zag onto the stack of bags to cut an outer shape of the snowflake.






When opened up, the simple stack of bags is transformed into these large round, rustic, dramatic,  paper celebrations.  When the kids open them up a lot of oooooh and aaaahs can be heard. 


I then gave the children tempera cakes of whites and blues to paint them. I love the way the brown  still shows underneath. The identity of the brown paper bag can still be seen.


We then spent some time making snowflakes which is also a great simple project for kids. Folding and cutting the paper is not all that easy. It strengthens these essential skills. We also talk about the uniqueness of each snowflake much like the individuality of each child.


We used a flower press to flatten our snowflakes. I find that kids love to learn to use tools of any kind.


The kids glued their snowflakes the middle of the large paper fans and some wanted the snowflakes hanging down like a big snowflake cloud.

I think I may be making these again to celebrate spring but making them into big flowers.
Such a rewarding project.


Thank you Hatch and Honey Day Preschool for being generous enough to share your ideas.


Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Ceramic Bowls Using Nature



Each year I am happy to create art projects with kids at the Waverly School in Pasadena around the holidays. For a school fundraiser they have a holiday market where the school community makes and or donates objects to sell. I really try to create a project for the children that will really highlight their own creative thinking, while teaching them a particular technique. This year we made these delicate ceramic bowls with the 5th and 6th graders.
We used low-fire white clay, paper bowls, rolling pins, pieces of plastic and herbs ( sage, rosemary and juniper). 




We used the paper bowls as a mold in order to have all the bowls be a bit uniformed but also have the artistic hand of each student. The small piece of plastic is so that the clay releases easily from the paper bowl.


After forming the bowl the children chose the herb they liked to use to create a pattern in the clay on the inside of the bowls. Then removing the herbs to leave an impression.




Afte firing them in the kiln the bowls are ready for the kids to glaze.


I gave them the choice of a few different blue glazes and a few different green glazes for the bowls so that people could purchase a few as a set.
The kids painted on the glaze making sure they got into all the crevices of the herbal impressions. They then wiped off the glaze which was then left in the crevices. The last step before the kiln was to brush on a clear glaze over the entire bowl so that it could be used with food.


The result are these gorgeous bowls that even though they are all different from each other, look fantastic together.



Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Making an Art Cart

ART WORKSHOP, the new book by Barbara Rucci with essays by Betsy McKenna, has so many wonderful ideas for colorful projects with children. The focus of these process oriented projects is for kids to explore the materials in a non pressure way developing their own curiosity, creativity and vocabulary.


There are a lot of things I like about this book, but what I was first taken by ( besides the luscious images) was how articulate this book is on supporting the making of art at home with your kids and creating an easily accessible space for your children to do so.

Excerpt from Art Workshop-
In the art room, Children work with their hands and innovate. The colorful and inviting materials feed their imagination and the dedicated space gives them  the freedom to explore their ideas. Open- ended creativity in the art room empowers our children to mess about, take risks and discover that they have good original ideas. -

This is such a thoughtful and invigorating way to think of the importance of children having the freedom to make art at home.

Okay so you may know this but I teach art to children ages 2-11 and since I have opened the Purple Twig studio here in LA I have not given my children much support in creating art at home. Now I am always bringing materials home from the studio when we have a big project in mind like making something for a class at school or for the holidays but not on an everyday spontaneous level.


Barbara talks about creating both permanent and temporal spaces for children own art materials so they can bring them out when the kids are so inclined. My home is quite small so I really responded to the idea of an art cart that the kids could wheel around from room to room ( well hopefully to wheel outside to create works of art since we are in Southern California).  I found this cart at IKEA and is what Barbara uses in the book, but any kind of device cart would do. I loaded it with the kinds of things my children art interested in.


Drawing materials are always a must to have and my children love watercolor so I filled the cart with watercolor pencils and paints and paper,  as well as, colored charcoal for drawing, paints and I found this old fish tackle box at a flea market which fit perfectly on the cart and fit all kinds of beads and bobbles in it.


They love the ease of wheeling it around to where they want ,and with my encouragement, outside.




I really can not tell you how excited I am by now having this in my home. I was taking the fact that my kids make so much art with me at the studio for granted. They love and needed an art cart at home.  If you are looking for something to distract your children from a screen, this is a fantastic idea.


For more information about the book go to artbarblog or just buy the book on Amazon