Sunday, December 14, 2014

Dancing Latke-Man, the Golden Latke Trophy

In celebration of Chanukah, which starts in a couple of days, our Temple holds a fun event called LatkeFest.  For the fourth year in a row, I have built the 'golden latke' trophy for the first place winner of this fun event.  Today was LatkeFest, and an assortment of amateur 'latke-chefs' served up their creations and assorted condiments, and attendees voted on which they liked best. 

Below, a young latke chef (his father was a 3-time champion) helps out.  He is modeling an apron designed by a religious school student.  They were made for the religious school cooking team by a parent, using the student's design.  
If you don't know what a latke is, it's basically a fried potato pancake, and is usually served with applesauce and/or sour cream.  Today's cooks offered interesting variations, from a crispy yucca latke (the winner) to gluten free latkes, to an 'apple pie latke' with a caramel sauce.  Toppings ranged from the traditional applesauce to the fun extreme, such as wasabi - my favorite!

A klezmer band entertained, and there was dancing and a fun atmosphere.  

So how does someone go about building a silly golden latke trophy, you might ask?  Here's the process: to make the latkes, I used a 'shredded paper clay'.  I got shredded paper from an office shredder, added a mix of Art Paste (liquid form; it had already been mixed up) and Elmer's Glue-All, and mashed it all together, making it into pancake shapes.
in the oven!
I knew I wanted arms and legs, so I shaped them out of armature wire and jammed them into the biggest mushy paper pancake.  It was very wet, and I was worried  'latkes' would take forever to dry, so I put them in a warm oven and 'cooked' them all afternoon, turning every so often.  By the end of the day, they were totally dry and ready for the next step. 
I bolted the wire feet onto a wood block, glued small latkes on top of the bolts for feet, and then fattened up the legs and arms a little, using newspaper and masking tape.  
Yes, my workspace is an absolute mess!

I built a spatula for his hand, and then covered the arms, legs, and spatula with a layer of papier-mache, finishing with paper toweling to make it form smoothly around the bends.
 Once the structure was dry, I sprayed the latkes with gold, and painted the rest with acrylic paints.  I made the plaque out of foam core, painted the lettering, and glued it on the front.
 I used a small hunk of gold-tone tooling foil to cut out the #1, and I glued it on the side.  (Actually, there's another #1 on on the other side, too.)
For a finishing touch, to make 'Latke Man' look like he was dancing, I cut a little cloth napkin and used my sewing machine to put a star of David on it.  If you've ever been to an Orthodox Jewish wedding, where there's Israeli dancing, you've likely seen a napkin used between the hands when a man and woman dance together. 
So here's the proud winner, with his new trophy!!
 And with his beautiful family. 
Note the klezmer band in the background.  The music was lively and fun. 
Goodbye, Latke Man.  
I hope you are happy dancing in your new home, with your new family!!

Here's the trophies from the past three years.
Happy Chanukah!

Saturday, December 13, 2014

A 'fauve-rite' art project: the Fauve Fauves revisited!

The images in this post mostly all first appeared on this blog about four years ago.  After the charcoal images of  my last post, and the white/gray world outside (the sky had a patch of blue for like three minutes this morning - and then was white/gray again), I felt it was time for some color.  Below, by the way, is the way it looks outside.  While the snow is not too deep (we got about 5"), the heavy wet snow is clinging to every tree, and it's really quite spectacular, though devoid of color. 

Anyhow, back to the color!
My classroom that year was decorated based on the theme "Wild about Art'.   
Here's how my bulletin board and door were decorated. 
The theme came about because my son had just returned from an internship and travel in South Africa.  My son had concluded his trip with a safari, and came back with incredible photos, such as the one below. A couple of other bloggers had hung 'wild' bulletin boards and I was doubly inspired.  Here is one of my son's safari photos.   
My 3rd grade students had been learning about Matisse, and the fauves, and learned that the word 'fauve' meant 'wild beast.  The connection seemed perfect to me.   So my students practiced drawing African animals, using a variety of resources (photos in books & magazines, a slide-show of my son's photos, plus some drawing books in the classroom).  After a bunch of sketching and practicing, each student selected an animal for their 'fauve fauve' (in other words, a wild beast painted like a fauve!). 
 On a piece of 16"x20" white paper, students drew a frame of about 1-1/2".  Inside the frame they drew their selected animal.  The drawing was done with a piece of yellow chalkboard chalk; we did this for two reasons - first, to encourage large drawings, and second, so that the line drawing would easily disappear when painted.  The animals were drawn large to fill the space, and basic landscape features were added as desired. 
 All negative space was be painted, as well as the animal.  All painting was done with vibrant colors of tempera, and many animals were filled with brightly colored patterns in homage to the work of my favorite artist, Henri Matisse.  When the paintings were dry, students used animal print tissue paper that I had cut into strips to decorate the frame.  The tissue paper was adhered using a brush and liquid starch.  Above and below are bulletin boards showing some of the completed work.

By the way, the work shown is all that of 3rd graders.  On the bulletin board in the photo below, the sign says '2nd grade'.  I corrected the sign after I had taken the photo, and before the kids saw the bulletin board!
 I know this month everyone else is posting winter and holiday lessons.  But I thought this would be a fun change.  I hope you enjoy this cheerful escape from snowy trees!