Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Vivid Layers: Art Teacher Blog Directory

Here's a link to some fine other Art Teacher Bloggers. Because you know I'm not the only one! (Insert smiley face here!)

Vivid Layers: Art Teacher Blog Directory

Monday, May 23, 2011

The Year of the Rabbit (Or “How to Make A Chinese Dragon Mask to please the finickiest of kids”)

We like to celebrate a lot of holidays at my house. Usually they are actually the ones that pertain to our backgrounds (which for my melting-pot kids is anything from Russia, Spain, England, Ireland, and Poland) but sometimes we turn to outside cultures for our festivities. We’ve hung lights for Diwali and made Dia de los Muertos cookies.  

And we always decorate for Chinese New Years. Except for this year. This year we forgot.

Months later my seven year old remembered Chinese New Year and he began to do what any poor neglected seven year old would do.  He began to hound me to make something with him. He was quite specific. He wanted to make a Chinese dragon costume. A FULL costume. The kind that usually is worn by several people. No can do, I said. But I was willing to work with him to make the mask.
It was a lot of fun and I can’t wait to make some again with my class! Here’s what we did.

  • Scissors
  • 1 Milk Jug, washed well and dried.
  • Newspaper, torn into strips. Around 1- 1.5 inches wide, the width of one page. But any size can work.
  • Water
  • Flour
  • Acrylic Paint           
  • 1 Sheet Heavy white construction paper or craft foam
  • A few additional sheets of brightly colored construction paper
Upside-down jug with paper mache strips painted white and ready for color!
Time to paint!

  1. Spend some time on the Internet looking at Chinese Dragon masks. Find some favorites and print them out for inspiration.
  2. Cut the jug in half from the top to the bottom.  We used the side with the handle as a “nose” (although we later decided to cut the nose off!)
  3. Measure the child’s eyes and cut eyeholes and a mouth. Take a good look at a Chinese dragon mask picture to get the right shapes.
  4. Make Paste of 1 parts flour to 2 parts water. There are other recipes involving glue or boiling that you can find online but this is the simplest.
  5. Dip strips of paper into the paste, squeeze off some excess by dragging paper through your fingers but don’t make it dry. Apply it to the jug horizontally. Continue to add more strips, allowing for overlap. Do it until the mask is covered. Use shorter strips where needed such as between the eyes. Let it dry. It will take about a full day to completely dry.
  6. Do the next layer vertically. Alternate layers. We made 3: one horizontal, one vertical and the top one was horizontal again.
  7. Cover your paste and put in the frig between dryings. You can put it in the microwave for a few seconds each time you take it out.
  8. You can start making shapes with your paper. We added horns, big lips and bulgy eyes.
  9. You can do the last stage with white paper to make it more paint-ready but I just painted the last dry stage white before applying colors.
  10. If it needs a little more drying use a hairdryer but at a distance.
  11. Paint!
  12. Once paint is dry you can glue in teeth, add strips of colored paper as a dragon mane, add feathers or whatever you like.

Here’s how my son’s mask turned out! 

Happy Year of the Rabbit!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Blogging with Purpose

Those of you who have been tuning in to read my rants about suburban living, attempts at self-motivation, and the stresses of parenting while trying to find a new direction in life may notice the focus of my blog shifting a little.  What's happened, you ask? Well, I'll tell you.  If you remember my very first posting (and I know you all read my blogs repeatedly and can recite them by heart) I said this would be the Year of Paula. Well, I’m as surprised as anyone to be able to say it really became just that.

Here is what I’ve done within the last  10 months in no particular order:
  • Passed the Art Teaching praxis test.
  • Received my certification to teach art in NJ which now requires me to find gainful employment. No more bon-bon eating for me.
  • Started sketch work on a mural being designed at the request of my town Mayor.
  • Started a home-based art program “Picasso’s Basement” where I have been teaching young children from my newly cleaned (although not quite renovated) basement.
  • Vacuumed the floor. At least twice.
  • Returned to the workforce as a substitute teacher in the local elementary and middle schools (High school schedule was too difficult to work out with my kids. Although that did not stop the automated system from attempting to retain my services as a fill-in for the male Gym Teacher. Those who know me may appropriately guffaw now.)
So here’s what you’ll probably see a lot more of in my future blog posts:
  • Art projects and lessons
  • Photos of cute kids “arting”
  • Photos of my basement
  • Craft ideas
  • My sketches
Here's what I promise you won't ever have to see:

  • Photos of me from behind picking up the mess left behind by cute kids who were busy "arting". Not to say I won't clean up but no photo of me taken from behind can be allowed to be publicly displayed. Photos of me from behind are THE main reason why digital cameras have all been equipped with a DELETE button. I promise you it's true. Check Wikipedia. 
Here’s what I promise to not lose:
  • My sense of humor.
  • My appetite.
  • My mind. Here’s hoping.
No more checking YouTube for cute cat videos!**
Just check in with me!

**although those darned Scottish Fold kittens sure are adorable....