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

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

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Spooky Bug Boxes

All this month we were hired to put together workshop every Thursday at One Colorado courtyard in old town Pasadena. It has been incredibly fun creating new projects each week for children and adults alike. As you all may know I love gathering and creating projects using recycled and found materials. Here is a great Halloween project using used mint tins - Bug collection tin.

Things you'll need-
- mint tin
- decorative paper- I used this beautiful black and white webbed paper from Paper Source along     with pages from a book and orange and black papers.
-watercolor paper
- oils pastels
- watercolor cakes or crayons
- orange and black sequins
-two little squares of cardboard about 1 inch X 1 inch

The first thing the kids did was to look at books with all kinds of insects and arachnids in them, beetles, caterpillars, cicadas, moths, spiders and scorpions. I then gave them a small piece of watercolor paper and oil pastels to draw their bug and add watercolor if they wanted.

After cutting it out their insects they were ready to decorate their mint tins to make a home for their insects. They layered on papers and sequins and black glitter. ribbons and pieces of orange and black paper.

One of the aspects of teaching these kinds of workshops that I so enjoy is watching the parents and children work together making something creative, talking about ideas and techniques. I also love seeing the excitement of the children at the materials they get to use. There is utter joy on their faces at the prospect of orange and black sprinkles or decorative papers or ribbon.

When they are finished decorating their boxes we are now ready to use the small pieces of cardboard. glue them one on top of each other into the middle of the tin and glue the insect right on top. This allows the bug to hover a bit over the background to give it a bit more animation. 

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Seed Faces

Halloween! Halloween! HALLOWEEN! 

We love Halloween around here. One of the things we love is all the ways one can decorate a pumpkin, you can carve it, or paint it, add stickers, add tape or ribbon, glue on buttons or paper.
I do so love a face on a pumpkin so this year we decided to add seeds to our pumpkins. It's a simple way of decorating which also celebrates the fall harvests.

Here is what you need-

A pumpkin- we used a small cooking pumpkin.
A hot glue gun.
Some seeds- I used sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds

After you glue all the seeds on you might want to pick all the strings of the hot glue off. I didn't have my glasses on when I took this picture so I didn't see the glue strings until later. It's still cute though. Right?

Friday, September 30, 2016

Fruit Bowls

Kids love stamping and I am always looking for ways to use stamps that are thoughtful and not just stamping on a piece of paper. Some very generous person donated these beautiful fruit and vegetable stamps to us which made me think of cornucopias or fruit bowls so that is just what we did.

I taught the children to draw a glass bowl with an opening at the top. After that they could just choose any fruit or vegetable they wanted to put in their bowl. We talked about the colors of these natural foods so they could chose their own colors. 

I also gave them large sponges so they could clean off their stamps which is respectful to their fellow artists. In essence they were working together, sharing both the stamps and the inks as a group.

It was interesting that just that simple line drawing of a bowl gave them a purpose in the stamping. They made decisions about whether fruits were inside the bowl or spilling out of the bowl or even dropping into the bowl from some unknown force. The drawing of the bowls also made each picture individual because each were so different from each other, different shapes and sizes.

For those who don't have stamps this would work really well with using actual fruit to print as well, apples, pears, grapes, star fruit.