Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Cool2Cast from Michael's workshop at NAEA

If there is one thing I probably don't need, it is yet another fun crafty material to use for making jewelry. Yeah, another hobby...  But that's just what I recently acquired!  
At the NAEA convention, Michael's offered a selection of FREE hands-on workshops.  I attended one, where we learned about Cool2Cast, a really awesome and easy to use casting medium that dries quickly, with an almost porcelain-like look.  We learned to mix and cast it into molds (they even gave us molds to keep!), and we all got to cast a whole bunch of pieces.  We also had time to paint a selection of pre-cast pieces that were given to us, using alcohol inks and also some stamps and stencils.  

I packed everything I made into my suitcase, figuring the little pieces would all be broken by the time I made it home cross the country.  And even if it had all broken, it would have been OK, because the workshop was totally free, I had fun, and I learned to use something new.  But amazingly, not a single piece broke!  As a result, I have about a dozen painted pieces (in great sizes for pendants, earrings, and maybe even a barrette), and probably at least 50 unpainted pieces, to decorate and use however I like.  I even have some really large leaf shapes that I won as a door prize, that could be used to decorate a frame or maybe the top of a box, or ...  I don't know yet!  There are so many possibilities!
Meanwhile, I put a coat of gloss on the painted pieces that I thought were done, and glued jewelry bails on the backs of them.  Then, yesterday, while it was warm and sunny out, I took the first two of my painted pieces, and transformed them into necklaces.  And I'm sharing them with you here. The one in the photo above has not yet been incorporated into a necklace, but it will.  Soon.

Here's one complete necklace and earrings set -
And another, with a double strand -
And a closer view - 
When I've worked with some of the other pieces, I promise to come back and share with you again right here on the blog!  Cool2Cast is awesome!  Thank you, Michael's!

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Olympics of the Visual Arts 2014

Today I served as a judge for OVA, the Olympics of the Visual Arts.  I first told you about this creative competition for kids, when I participated as a judge last here, in this blog post of April 2013.  OVA, sponsored by NYSATA (NY State Art Teachers Association) was modeled after the Odyssey of the Mind competition format.  Students complete long-term projects based on tasks in a selected category, and using research and brainstorming in their planning.  There is also a spontaneous component to the competition, that takes place on site, using minimal prescribed materials.

The cast of Project Runway might benefit by talking to these students when they are taking on one of their challenges with unconventional materials.  Here below (and above) are some of the amazing creations in today's fashion category. (Can't you just see Cassie Stevens wearing the dress at the top of this post?)  I wasn't a judge of fashion, so I didn't get to see the runway show component of their competition, but I was blown away by the pieces on display.  Their task involved creating a garment constructed from paper  Other materials could be added for embellishment, but the actual construction had to be from paper.  Big bold colorful pattern was the theme, and students were to use art history to reference  how pattern has been used in art.  The results were beyond amazing.  Here are some of my favorites.  I love the Klimt-ness of the peacock dress above.
 I absolutely adore this dress below, and would totally wear it if it just had some shoulder straps, or perhaps a little jacket over it!
I think the art historical references are pretty obvious in most of these.  I was intrigued by the one below, because their use of pattern was so much more subtle than the others, but definitely still there.  All of them, worthy of Project Runway for sure!
I certainly don't mean to undermine the other categories, which include architecture (there was a theme related to arches), sculpture (the theme had to do with knowledge and wisdom), illustration (something about a caterpillar poem), typography (unfortunately I didn't see these), drawing and painting (the theme had something to do with nano-something or other?) and photography (the theme was the passage of time).  Here's a random sampling.
I really love this arch below - the 'Pop Arch'
 And a few more random images of student work from various categories and various age levels.

 I frequently saw people sitting on this swing below.  That's how strong it is!  And note that Louise Nevelson inspired arch in the background. 
Even though I was a judge for the photography category, I totally forgot to photography any of the pieces except for this fun entry below. 
 I loved seeing the unique solutions to the problem!  One 8th grade girl used a fairy tale book setup for her presentation, really spectacular (couldn't believe she was a middle schooler) and even her research portfolio and process documentation were presented in a book, in fairy tale fashion, right down to the last detail.  We couldn't find a thing about it to critique!  Another middle school student presented her research portfolio in folders displayed in an old suitcase, which really complemented the photographic presentation.  A group of elementary students showed the passage of time through fashion, and displayed a sequence of photos (of themselves modeling as people from various decades and eras) in windows draped with fancy purple curtains made from tissue paper.  And another group used a door that swung.  And there was a photo booth.  And a faux brick wall and a photo-collage table that became a clock... and so much more.  Wow, wow, WOW!

Ironically, though the press has been contacted year after year, they NEVER show up for this event.  I have nothing against sports (my son was on his school swim and tennis teams and we always went to swim meets and tennis matches), but still, I find it ironic that the press will travel all over the place to watch kids play ball, but when students participate in a competition like this, that involves extensive preparation, research (their portfolio of research materials is displayed with and scored with the piece), creative thinking, and hard work (not to mention the travel arrangements to bring these kids from all over the place along with their creations to this one central location), but they (the press) don't show up here.  Sigh. 

All in all, I am encouraged by the amazing minds and talents of these kids, and the hard work they did, too.  And oh - the spontaneous project had to do with drawing with scissors like Matisse - and while I didn't photograph those pieces, some of them, completed in less than an hour, sitting on the floor, were pretty awesome too!