Sunday, July 29, 2012

Where I live

Do you ever wonder what it looks like in the places where your blogger friends live? My home was looking so pretty today I wanted to show you.

That's my husband's garden in the backyard - he plants 'em, I pick 'em and I cook 'em! Yum. The house plants on the porch are mine.
And by the side of the house, that's my sweet kitty, affectionately called 'dope on a rope'.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Testing 1-2-3

Playing with the iPad Blogger app as i watch the Olympics but I don't think I like it (the app, that is. I like the Olympics just fine.) Have you posted to your blog from an iPad? There doesn't seem to be any way to move things around etc so I doubt I'll post from the iPad too often.

Meanwhile I put up a couple of posts last week but it's been a little lonely here in bloggy-land. Nobody much has been reading or responding to those posts, so I'm wondering, are you still out there, dear readers? Or has this dinosaur been abandoned? Or perhaps those photos of me in my younger days were too scary?

Anyhow here's some photos from fooling around in the photo booth app. I wanted to post some images from my sketchbook app but I can't seem to figure out how to retrieve the images in blogger.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Vintage lesson #1 - direct cast masks w/plaster bandage

Darn. I can't find the rest of the photos.

I've decided that I will periodically post projects and photos that I haven't previously shown you, using photos from before I began blogging. I've 'disappeared' a bunch of the photos of this project so I'll do the best I can with what I can locate right now.

Here's the history behind this project - years ago, I taught middle school and my favorite project to do with my 7th graders was a mask project that began with a direct cast of their faces using plaster bandage. I did variations of this project for many years, and students looked forward to making their own masks. And yes, I have cast my own face on more than one occasion, so I'm not asking the kids to do that I was unwilling to do myself. I can't show you the photos of those 7th grade masks, as they are all slides. (NO, not PowerPoint slides, but actual slides to stick in a Carousel projector. One of these days I'll try scanning them.)

But then sadly I stopped teaching 7th graders, and the lesson wasn't practical for the younger kids' or their once/twice a week art schedule. I brought the project back for a couple of summers in a camp program sponsored by our (former) PTSA, working with small groups of kids for three hours a day for four days in a row. The students were in grades 3 - 6 then. The student in the photo above just graduated from high school and is pursuing an art career! In this photo she had just completed 6th grade. The girls in the photos below (sisters) had just completed 3rd and 5th grade at the time of these photos and the younger girl still loves art.

The students were taught to use plaster bandage to safely cast each others faces. The 'victim' would lie on a table for the mask-making process. We used Vaseline as a barrier, and covered everything on their faces except their eyes and nostrils. We used shower caps to protect their hair, and the students used washcloths to clean Vaseline and plaster off their faces when the masks were complete. The students pre-cut the plaster bandages and followed careful rules for safety and also to use the material most effectively. They learned to drip and blot excess water off the bandage before putting it on the face, to prevent plaster from dripping into ears and eyes. Over the many years I did this project, very few students opted out of putting the plaster on their faces. It was a badge of honor to make the mask.

Above is the plaster bandage, and what the newly created mask 'shell' looks like before being transformed.

Once the mask was removed from the face, it was left overnight to dry. Then the students transformed the shell. The completed masks in the photos at the beginning of this post were all made by gluing the 'shell' onto heavy cardboard that was cut and shaped according to the students' plan, to make a sculptural piece. The missing photos from the summer program include masks that have been transformed into the center of a giant flower, the head of an alien, a butterfly, and more. My 7th graders often left their masks in a format they could wear, and we often made them around Halloween times and made costumes to go with them, which we wore as we took a stroll through the school building. The students became aliens, monsters, wizards, cats, and one even became a unicorn. Masks grew giant ears, horns, extra eyeballs, beaks, and textured skin. Often they were transformed by color and design rather than by becoming something else. Sometimes hair, feathers, sequins, and other crafty materials were used, and other times they were simply transformed with paint.

By the way, I always introduced the students to the amazing work of George Segal, since he also worked with plaster bandage.

Have you ever tried making a direct cast of your own (or a student's) face?

How I spent a hot muggy summer day & some fun 'vintage' photos

This (above) is how we spent the glorious day yesterday. (That's not me in the photos but it is my family.)

This (below) is how I expected to spend today.

That's the magnificent Saratoga Racetrack, in my hometown just 20 minutes away. I'm not a gambler, but once a summer I meet up here with an old union leadership friend. Our friendship began when we met in 1995 at a statewide training conference for new local teacher union presidents, and has continued ever since. But with expected severe thunderstorms (that never happened here) and hot humid muggy weather, we've postponed until later in the week.

I also expected to be surprising my childhood BFF (who lives in England but comes home to see family) with a visit for dinner, also in Saratoga, at the invitation of her kid sister.

In the photo above, that's Annie on the left and me on the right at maybe 5 & 6 years old (she's younger), and on the left below at maybe 17 and 16 (this time I'm the angry one on the left) and finally at 36 and 35 (I'm convex - 7 months pregnant with dyed hair; she's concave and beautiful).

And here's the kid sister at approximately age 10 when Annie and I were 19 & 20.
But sadly, kid sister is having serious back trouble and the visit is temporarily called off tonight. But Annie will be in the states for a bit and we'll catch up, just not by surprise.

And here's what I did today instead: (sorry for sideways photos)

I cleaned and froze blueberries that I picked a few days ago. Then I went out back to my hubby's wonderful garden and picked chives and basil. I chopped and froze chives, and I made the basil into pesto and froze it in these rectangular ice cube trays. Now I can have fresh herbs in the winter, and fresh berries too! After chopping and chopping and processing etc, my house smells like heaven - the aroma of basil/chives/garlic all together. Of course I saved some of the fresh pesto for dinner tonight! YUM.

And in between all the slicing and dicing and washing and processing, I took turns at my latest obsessions on my iPad:

If you like to play too, let me know! I'm seriously hooked on both. I'm also playing Scramble with Friends (kind of like Boggle) but so far only with my son and he's seriously KILLING me and I don't know what I'm doing wrong.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012


I've been fooling around with my blog tonight. (These photos have nothing to do with this post; I just like posting photos of pretty bugs and flowers.) Hopefully you will let me know what you think. I was getting pretty tired of those polka dots. But I get terrified of screwing it up (I've done that before) so I'm doing my transformation in baby steps.

I know I have to change the header eventually, since, after all, I no longer have an art room and therefore my dragon is NOT in my art room, or any art room for that manner. She's in the bunk room at our lakeside cabin, just hanging out, waiting to be given some attention. But to change the header I need to figure out how to do it without my son here to help me like he did last time around.

And I need to change my tabs. I added those pages ages ago and never really did much with them. Hopefully I can update and change them this summer. Stick with me, please? And feel free to express your opinions openly. I need help!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Cairns, and some Adirondack beauty

Somebody has been building these wonderful cairns on rock outcroppings in my lake. How cool is that??!!! What a unique sculpture project! I can't imagine how difficult it was to pull it off. (There's a third one as well, but my photo of it is unfortunately not too good. My kayak was moving, the water was moving, and, well, the sun was going down fast as I tried to photograph. Oh well! Hopefully they'll still be there next time I take my kayak in that direction.)

Here's my 'boys' (son and hubby) out for the sunset canoe/kayak sojourn with me. Obviously, always the photographer, I'm in the kayak, and not in the photo.

Earlier in the day, poking through the marsh... waterlilies! (arghh - the first one is sideways)

And on a walk to the 'little beach' at sunset another night, here's what it was like:


And a couple of bonus photos, just for fun ;)

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Dear Mother Nature

During my visit this week to my alma mater, SUNY New Paltz, we spent some time in the Dorsky Museum of Art, the college's lovely art museum. The current exhibit is titled Dear Mother Nature. I had trouble getting good photos of the pieces, but above and below are a few of the many intriguing works, all created by Hudson Valley artists. The challenge to the artists was to reflect on the condition of Mother Nature, and then to create an offering that reflects their feelings and Mother Nature's condition. The exhibit guide includes a letter to Mother Nature from each artist, explaining their offering. My only frustration was that usually the guide would list the media used for the work of art, but that was not done. It was just the letters. I REALLY wanted to know what some of these pieces were made out of, especially the ones below!

Since we graduated from the college 38 years ago, a lot has changed on the campus, of course. One of the newest buildings on campus is this really cool addition to the Student Union building. From the outside it is a sort of a pyramid thingy. It reminds me of the pictures of seen of the pyramid in front of the Louvre. These two photos below were shot inside the building.

Some things will never change, such as the view of Mount Mohonk that you can see from the campus.

A lot of the campus is the same, too, such as the pond that separates some of the dorms from the rest of the campus. That's me and my college roommate, on campus together for the first time in 38 years!!!!

In the village of New Paltz is Manny's Art Supplies, basically the same store where we purchased our art supplies for my all classes. The sign has changed, but it is nice to know that Manny's is still there catering to the needs of the art students.

The village has changed. It's a little more upscale feeling, and seems to be a tourist-y destination, rather than just a funky, hippy-dippy college town. But still great! Check out this cool oil painting that was in a building on campus: