Monthly Archives: April 2007

In the news

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Well, I have made the news! Here is the press release from my school system. It was also mentioned in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution – in the Cobb County section. Thursday, I went to the local meeting for all of the Fund for Teachers fellows. It was held at Lovett (private school) and it was short and sweet.

There, we were given a check for 90% of our award money, and were walked through the required expense recording and other paperwork. We are required to submit a final reflection by the end of September, wherein we will be awarded the final 10% of the money. Seems fair to me! Then, we took individual and group photos for future press releases.

At first, I debated about whether or not to link this blog to my school affiliation – and I still may separate it later. I don’t think that I have said anything controversial, but you never know… Both FFT and MCS want to make sure that I do not misrepresent those organizations – so I don’t know… I don’t want to be repetitive about my grant proposal, so here is the post with a description.

Yes, I still don’t know if I am going to drive or fly – although I am leaning towards driving. I also keep smallaztec.jpgwavering between leaving the dog here and taking her with me – er, us. My husband will be going with me as a technical aide :-). If we drive, it will add about 10 days to our trip – it will take about 5 days to get from Atlanta to Morelia. My thought is that if we drive, then we might as well bring the pooch – the apartment that we are renting in Morelia allows pets. And my dog is so neurotically attached to me that I don’t know how she will do being left for 5 weeks.

In the meantime, I am doing some research on the arts and crafts that I would like to include in my project. This week, I finally dove into tin embossing (aluminum, actually). I first heard about it a while back, but I was listening to this podcast on the Crafty Pod, and really became inspired. I tried working with four layers of heavy duty aluminum foil, but that was unsatisfactory. Then I moved on to aluminum from one of the roasting pans I purchased to try this with. That was great! I also did one on a flattened inside of a Diet Coke Can, but that was a little too stiff.smallversionearlybird.jpg

Needless to say, I have one sore left hand and thumb! I produced this beautiful piece by tracing over a design from one of my Mexican folk design books, then coloring it with Sharpie markers. I cut it out with one of my ornamental scissors. I love it! So did my students – I was doing some of this during CRCT testing. I plan on letting them do some, but I have to iron out some safety issues – sharp edges being the main one. I plan on tying it in to our Mayan unit, which I will begin next week.

I also did some experimentation with faux amate bark painting. I took some brown craft paper my husband uses to cover things he mails out and cut out an 8 1/2 by 11 sheet. I flattened it and put it through my laser printer. Then I used some of the many tempera paints I have tamateskullsmall.jpgo paint it. Pretty awesome.

Here is what I am learning about 7th graders. Whereas elementary school students are generally happy to do crafts and drawing and have it look like elementary school children’s work, middle school students have entered into this “perfectionist” phase. They are afraid (or don’t want to) to do art projects because they have suddenly found out they “can’t” draw and don’t want people to see their work. Most students that I see actually drawing things are tracing – tattoo images are popular (but they sometimes don’t realize that the words are backwards…).

I can identify, because I have always been that way. Even as a small child artist, I was VERY frustrated that my pictures did not look like the things in real life. I was constantly wanting to be as talented as my mother without putting in the years of practice. That is why I generally drew things from my imagination – they couldn’t be compared to real-life items. I think that is also why I am drawn to collage. I am able to draw, but I am not shy about using tracing to get a foundation for many of my pieces.

So, I am trying to make the art experience as friendly as possible for my fragile middle-schoolers. I will introduce the tinwork and amate by incorporating tracing and coloring. The only thing I will have to insist upon is that they don’t talk or socialize a lot. Many of my students are satisfied with inferior work, if they can get it done without their full attention (meaning while talking to others) or quickly, perceiving that there are more fun things to do after they are done.

Mrs. Williams don’t play that. This is not play time. I fully expect my students to incorporate a written response or report on the type of art they are doing. I am so tired of students thinking everything is “boring”. That’s just a cop-out for not caring about learning – or being afraid to seem nerdy for wanting to learn things. This attitude will be intensified by the approach of the end of the year. We just finished CRCT testing, and we have 5 weeks left – it’s always a challenge to keep them focused!

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SwapBot and ATCs

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Well, today is the “hump day” of my Spring Break. Now, I only have 4 1/2 days before returning to school… ;-( What have I been doing? Not much, really. I have been drinking wine and kir royales, organizing craft things, staying up until 2AM and waking up at 11 or noon. That is really my ideal sleeping pattern – not that unnatural getting up at 5:30 necessitated by my job.

I went to IKEA the Friday I got off after Teacher Workday. That was fun – I must have been there 3 hours or so. You see, it has been ages since I went there, so I had to do the whole thing – see the new displays, etc. I left with a few things, and decided to return after determining whether or not I needed more things to organize my space. I also went by the food section and bought some candy (supposedly for Easter, but much is already eaten!).

Artistically, I have kept myself busy working on things for the Swaps I signed up for on SwapBot.com. I’m already an addict, signing up for 5 swaps already. First, there was the 1 oz. paper scrap swap, then there was the Tiny paper scrap swap. I also signed up for a 20 ATC MegaSwap – I had not really done Artist Trading Cards before, so that was new. I have already made the 20 and mailed them off.

I did 2 series using scraps of Georgia Lottery forms, Loteria images, and these painted numbers that I cut out of airline magazines on one long trip – I must have cut up 10 magazines – but the numbers are cool! I was working with a gambling theme on these, of course. The first set, I decided to look online for fortune cookie fortunes, and then cut them out to glue on the cards. I named the series “La Fortuna.” When I got to the second series, I decided to replace the fortunes with Spanish proverbs, called “dichos.” The sayings are about money and friends – I called it Dichos (duh). I decided to keep one of each set, and to send the other four on to my Swap partners.

While looking through my things, I found prints of my Loteria Celeste series, just the right size for ATCs. I wrapped the cards (which, BTW, I purchased probably 2 years ago at an art store in Houston), in florist’s foil (I have about 7 rolls of different colors – I love it!). Then, I centered the image on the cards – that was a sticky mess, and I was afraid that the images, which were printed on slick brochure paper would not stick to the foil. I put them in a book to dry and sat on the book for extra flatness. They turned out great.

I was on a roll and decided that I needed to create a personal label to attach to the back of the cards. There are quite a few stamps already made to use for this purpose, but I chose a Photoshop format using a black and white shrine image I found online. I really like the result, except that it is pretty tiny to write on. I was able to write the name of the series, what the number out of the total made, the date, and the medium used. I then initialed the card, and wrote something to remind me which card it was… I know pretty meticulous – but you never know if these are going to be real collector’s items in the future! I also included my e-mail address and my future website URL on the card.

So, I sent all of those out today, then sent out three envelopes full of napkins for a Napkin Swap. I know, I’m out of control! But, seriously, these things help me to go back and look at what a huge amount of supplies I have – I have been buying stuff for years, with the thought of doing “something” with all of it. I am trying not to buy more, but that is very hard. If I go shopping, I invariably see beautiful papers that I have to buy. If I stay at home, there’s the E-Bay temptation.

I have been starting my preparation for the big trip to Mexico this summer. This morning, my husband and I went to the bank to transfer funds for the apartment deposit. There is still a huge amount of planning to do – we’re going in two months!