Barbara Rucci, who is the mastermind behind artbarblog.com is an incredible art teacher and has a wonderful way with watercolor paints. She has begun a new series on her blog of interviewing art educators. It was such a pleasure corresponding with her about running a business as well as classroom management. It's so important for art educators to communicate with each other and share ideas. We are not alone out here trying to help children with creative thinking and problem solving, although sometimes it can feel like we are.
Our Potion and Spells class has been such a wonderful combination of history, botany, performance, chemistry as well as some self-realization. We have made ink from nature spices and other botanical elements. We have made candles to use in our spells. We have done some Shibori dying from Japan. We have created lip balm from the herbs we grow and gathered or made the materials for ancient spells learned from the Gypsies of Bohemia. One of the aspects I didn't expect in this class was the calming affect of the collective ritual. When doing the spells together, the kids are participating in a performance and an experience together that is quite unique and sparks the ideas of magic in the world and where that magic comes from.
We prepare the materials needed for the spell, wrapping herbs, and painting the sacred ancient symbols on stones, which are found. While preparing the materials we discuss the ideas of magic and whether it exists and how it exists. One of the aspects about magic we have discussed is that by doing spell for what they believe can deepen their conviction of their own beliefs. They each have the power to change things by making different choices for themselves.
This spell is a protection spell.
Rosemary is an herb that not only tastes good and is a great antiseptic but it represents remembrance and protection. We made bundles of rosemary to burn. We painted a protection symbol on rocks. The symbol combines the earth, fire, water and air signs within a triangle.
So here are all of our ingredients, a rosemary candle the kids made, the stone with the protection symbol, a rosemary bundle and some salt. Salt is used in spells for protection mainly because it's used as a preservative which was used to protect people from bacteria in food.
We also had a bowl of water in the center of our circle to douse the flames.
The kids wrote who or what they would like to protect on a piece of paper, folded it and placed it under their symbol. They then created a circle of salt around their paper. The kids spontaneously created the designs in the salt which was such a wonderful surprise.
They lit their rosemary bundle in their candles and blew them out. It filled the room with the scent of rosemary. They doused the rosemary and holding hands in a circle recited this incantation 3 times.
Rattle now, rattle clear
rattle far, rattle near
Protect this place and all within
keep away harm, away widdershin
They removed the paper from under the stone and lit the paper in the candle. After lit placing the paper in the bowl of water.
The salt was then used to douse the flames in the water by sprinkling it onto the flames.
Every few weeks we are doing spells, spells for love, spells for healing and spells for knowledge. I do alter the spells I find to make it more experiential for the kids using the age the old symbols and herbs of magic. This class seeks to expanded their ideas of art combining the historical and the performative.
I love this playful use of collage. This project is far more conceptual rather than craft oriented. Listening to the children's ideas about the creatures and their creature powers is just so fun.
I start with a lot of images to choose from, images of animals, people ( I like to use people with costumes) and images of paintings and statues. After choosing creature parts they just cut out all around the image and glue them down to card stock.
Then cut them out precisely.
Punch holes where the body parts should be connected, add brass fasteners and a chop stick to the back with either hot glue or tape and Bob's your uncle.
This is an incredibly versatile clay project we did with children from ages 4 - 11 all sitting at the table working side by side each at their own skill level. We made sushi for hours with such an array of materials at the table. We had fabric, beads, rice, puff balls, little pieces of styrofoam, paper, some plastic leaves, glitter, plastic flowers, colored pasta. When setting up this project I slowly wandered through the studio looking for suitable materials, grabbing as many jars off the shelves as possible. I knew the more the kids had to choose from the better. Each student began with either a bento box made from a shoebox lid or with a sushi platter made from tongue depressors.
With just a little bit of demonstration of flattening clay and rolling up fabrics inside as if it were seaweed, off the kids went, rolling, cutting, gluing, dipping, creating gorgeous and carefully designed little sculptures. They were getting ideas from each other and creating new ideas from the materials, beads as fish eggs, fabric as thin strips of carrot to wrap around a rice cake made from styrofoam, plastic leaves as salad.
One of my teachers, Jillian, is just a little obsessed with the idea of making foods from everyday materials (actually from any materials). She just thinks it's the cutest, funniest subject for making objects with kids. So when she had the idea of doing a making food summer camp, I didn't need much coaxing. We will call it Artful Feast. We will make watercolor popsicles and shaving cream cakes, paper mâché ice cream cones, sushi (this will be another post) and doughnuts from socks. Yes, doughnuts from socks.
It really was a week of making choices. We put out so many choices of paint and toppings for each project and the students reveled in the joy of choosing which material to use next.
We started with mismatched (clean) socks of a variety of colors. We cut off them in half and cut off the toes so that when they are rolled up they have a hole in the center. We also used tin foil to make doughnut holes.
We presented many different colors of paint to act as icing and many different colors of glitter, sand, as well as tiny beads and little paper shaving to act as coconut.
The kids chose their icing to dip and their sprinkles to sprinkle. We talked about the flavors each might be. I loved how for one child the pink icing might be strawberry and another it might be cotton candy flavor ( I'm not sure what cotton candy flavor is besides just sweet).
The last step was adding icing to the tin foil doughnut holes by rolling them in the paint and placing them into a paper bag and adding the topping of choice into the bag and then shaking and shaking the bag. This is the way my Great Grandmother covered her home made doughnut holes with powdered sugar when they were still warm.
The little pastry boxes really helped to convey the concept even further. Each child brought home a little box of goodness from camp that day.
It's always a rewarding challenge to create projects that are intriguing to the kids in process and that they are really proud of. Plaster is a material that can do both of these things. It's so much easier to use than paper mâché and the results are so much more immediate. We spent a few days during our Puppetry Week of summer camp creating these charming and charismatic puppets from plaster.
To make the inner structure we used balled up newspaper, cardboard cut into ear shapes, tape and tops cut off of a plastic water bottle.
Once the inner structure is formed we used the plaster gauze strips dipped in water to form the animal head. I added short dowels to the bottom of the plaster heads for the kids to hold onto.
After the kids painted their animals and while they were drying, the kids made hats, crowns, ties and scarves, but the kids didn't stop there. They then wanted to make glasses, mustaches, ear pieces, jewelry to create identities for each of their puppets. It was then time to dress up these creatures. We cut fabric for them to choose and plugged in the hot glue gun.