Saturday, March 24, 2012

Random Views from a Busy Week in the Art Room

More cats underway. I like the whiskers on the cat on the left. The green one in the center is the largest of all the cats, and has cougar pawprints on it - our team mascot is the Cougar and our school colors are green and gold. But the sad story about this cat is that it will have to wait at least a couple of weeks to receive eyes and to be completed. The boy who is making it, an athletic, exuberant, outgoing, fun sort of boy, tripped in a running game outside in gym class (during last week's run of summer weather) and severely broke his arm. I mean the bone broke in at least 2 places and slipped down inside his arm, and he had surgery done and will be out for a while, and when he's back it will be with a cast right up to his shoulder. And this is of course his right arm, and he's right-handed, and baseball season is starting, and he's a HUGE baseball player. Poor kid.

The unfinished yellow cat below (love the tilt of the head) has an Autism Awareness ribbon on its back, in honor of the sweet younger brother of the lovely girl making the cat.

Below is "camo-cat". The next two cats are really intriguing - can't wait to see how they will look when complete!

Here's a cave painter entering a cave through a tunnel...

And below are a couple of the annual kindergarten thumbprint pussywillows. The color is all wrong on the photo on the right but I can't correct it somehow. The paint was a pale silvery gray and the paper was pink. I forgot to photograph the rest. I took some better photos last year and posted them here. Process was the same, but I used a different size/shape paper this year (longer and narrower) because I had extremely tall real pussywilllows to show the kids.

Painting of teddy bear chairs is underway!

And finished kitties have been moved to the library for display. This is how I've made room for the teddy bear chairs and the garden gnomes (which I'll show you more of in a couple of days.)

Busy busy busy!


  1. These are just SO great! I love the library display. It will look very bare when the kitties go home!!

  2. Hi Phyl,

    Do you think that maybe the injured boy's friends could finish his cat for him? When he's feeling better he could tell them what and where to paint the rest of the designs on his cat. Just a thought. I really love the blue one with the cool whiskers! And just a side note, it's March in Nebraska and we are having 80 degree days. I've been here 41 years and this is a first!


    1. Hi Pat, Oh we'll make sure it gets done. He's not a detail guy, so he might be very happy just to get eyeballs and whiskers and a collar on. In the words of Tim Gunn, we'll "make it work" somehow!

      As for the weather, it was in the 80's here every day last week I think - also unheard of here in the Adirondacks in March. I think it's now going to be a L-O-N-G three months with keeping kids in school till school ends. Crazy.

    2. Surprise surprise, the boy came back to school TODAY and wanted to do as much as possible on his own. I helped him cut out the eyes for his cat, and glue the eyes and whiskers on. A friend helped him make a collar for the cat and he hung a cross on the collar and pronounced the cat DONE. Yeah!

  3. Those cats are amazing! love the painted designs. I'd love to hear more about the teddy bear chairs and how you make them.

    1. I'll be posting the TB chair process in a day or two. Really easy and the kids LOVE LOVE LOVE them!

  4. Phyl-

    Wondering how long a project like the cats or flying pigs takes your students? And how long are each of your classes? I am currently making Paper Mache pigs and the 6th graders seem to be taking FOREVER!

  5. Izzylot (cute name) - it does take a L-O-N-G time... It seems like I've already posted the answer to this question when someone else asked, but I can't find my answer so you probably can't either. Anyhow - my classes are 40 minutes long. I give just 5 minutes for cleanup so we need to hustle. The cats take longer than the pigs because they are so individual. The pigs moved more quickly: everyone STUFF A BAG. Demo how to add legs/nose/ears and GET IT DONE. Say 2 art classes for demo and armature, more for slowpokes. Easily a couple of sessions minimum for papier-mache but for some kids more. A class to gesso. A couple of classes to paint. Another class to embellish. That's 8 classes right there, and it doesn't take into account the slowpokes, the absentees, etc. The wings on our flying pigs last year easily added another session or two; basic pigs are much easier. Our crazy attempt at Laurel Burch faces made the cats take longer this year - usually we just make a ball of newspaper, add ears and attach it.

    So I know papier-mache is a major commitment. You can shorten the time by eliminating gesso step, or by using a firm armature that only needs one coat of goo (such as empty bottles or tennis ball containers, for example). Our gnomes and Darumas were both one-coat projects. The thing is, I think the gesso step adds to making them look REALLY good, and also strengthens. And when the projects come out good, the kids come back years later and tell you "I still have the mask (or Kachina doll; or tiki) that I made in 3rd grade! Or the monster - or insect - or cat - or pig that I made in 5th grade"

    By the way - if you are looking for a quickie - last year's ice cream cones were quick and a HUGE hit. I think ice cream sundaes would be great too.

    Good luck!

  6. Thanks for your response!!!! It makes me feel better, I was thinking that I just had a slow-poke way of teaching paper mache. I followed your directions using a produce bag and tape ..... maybe a two-liter soda bottle would be a good alternative! Thanks so much for taking the time to answer!!!!