Saturday, October 5, 2013

Back in the saddle

It been a while since I posted about my venture into business, providing art enrichment programs for kids. As a matter of fact, it was a full 9 months ago, in January!  Here's a link to the post: DragonWing Arts. You may recall, this is the logo (that I designed) for my business:

And I am using this dragon (also by me) on some of my stuff.  Both the logo and the dragon are great for adding color as desired.  I'll share my color images another time.  Meanwhile, let me tell you what's happening with my new business!
Since that January post, I had several false starts, and struggled with how to advertise a fledgling business with no money, and how to get my message out.  But now, finally, I'm proud to tell you that DragonWing Arts is officially off the ground.  I am currently running a 7-week session, and will start another one in January.  Yesterday was our first class, and I have 5 rambunctious, energetic girls, a combination of 3rd graders and 5th graders. They were so excited; didn't want to pack up and leave at the end of class!  And their moms who dropped them off and picked them up were so happy that this opportunity was available for them!  The photo below is of some painted paper they made, which will be cut in strips for dimensional weavings we will be making.
Sorry the photo posted sideways... 
By the way, my intent is to run multi-week programs based on a theme.  The theme for these 7 weeks is "Explorations in 3-Dimensions".  Students will be doing some simple sculptural and relief projects, as well as some very basic perspective projects.  I'm planning on really packing a lot into the 7 weeks we have.

I am very lucky and quite thankful that workspace has been provided for me by my Temple.  They have been very gracious about allowing me these rooms rent-free, for now.  And old library (the second and third photos) is our home base, and where we will do pretty much anything other than painting.  There is an ugly old carpet on the floor, but still, it is a carpet and I don't want to have to dropcloth the floor.  Across the hall is a kindergarten/1st grade room, and for now we are using that for the painting room (the first photo).  The tables and chairs are kind of small and low.
The kids are manipulating papier-mache mash (shredded paper mixed with Art Paste and Elmer's Glue-All) to do some relief work.  Here's some freshly mixed mash in the photo below.  This is the same stuff I used for my cave-painting rocks that I posted about here and here and here and here.
I showed them this tree I made with the mash, originally planning they would all make trees, but because I did not know these kids and their skill levels, I decided it was best to let them totally choose what their relief would be, as we get to know each other.  I can zoom in on their specific needs and capabilities as I get to know them better.
Above you can see some of what they chose to do.  They are not done.  The top center one, unfinished, will be very interesting but I'll wait till it's done to explain it to you.  The bottom right piece will say ART, with a giant paintbrush.  Due to a scheduling conflict, their next class will be in two weeks, which seems like a long time but will help their work dry thoroughly.

Meanwhile, I'm using leftovers of the mash to make latkes, for the trophy for the 3rd annual Latke Fest at Temple Beth El.  Chanukah is early this year!!!! You can see my previous trophy constructions here and here.  I'm thinking this year's trophy will include a plate with a stack of 18 latkes piled precariously high, with some sour cream and applesauce on top.  In Hebrew, the word chai (not the tea!) means life, and also represents the number 18, so it is a significant number.  By the way, if you weren't familiar with the word chai, the 'ch' is a gutteral sound, not a typical 'ch' sound as in chips or Cheerios.  It is part of the word l'chaim, which means 'to life'.  L'chaim is commonly used as a drinking toast.  If my stack of 18 latkes isn't ridiculously high enough, I may just  make 18 more.  I want the trophy to be outrageous and silly.  Here's a few of the newly made papier-mache latkes.  They will take a while to dry out.


  1. Congratulations with getting started Phyl - that's the hardest part done! The rest is easy, especially for a highly skilled and creative teacher such as yourself! I also run independent art classes as a private business (ie parents pay me directly) and have gradually built it up. I have found the most effective advertising (for my situation) to be leaflets which I print myself and distribute to kids via the classroom at the start of each school year. Together with word of mouth, this usually sets me up with full classes (of 24 students) and waiting lists that last me for the rest of the school year.
    Lucky you having rent-free space! Good luck with it all!!

    1. Ah, Elizabeth, local schools won't let me distribute literature because I am a business charging money! So I have paid for advertising in a community bulletin board in the free weekly local newspaper. And one local art teacher copied my literature and snuck it to her students without permission.

      As for my rent-free space, they are very accommodating but it is a challenge, since I have to tote buckets of water from the bathroom sink. I'd love to work with plaster bandage but am concerned without the proper sink trap for an art room, that it could be a disaster. And the rooms are small and can't accommodate many kids.

      But thank you! I am very psyched to see where it all goes!

  2. Congratulations, Phyl!!! I know you are going to LOVE doing this!!

  3. I love the use of mashed papier-mache! Thanks for the inspiration and a big congratulations on getting your business off the ground!

    1. Janis, I always got the shredded paper from the Special Ed office next to my art room. They shred a LOT of documents! So I was in my school recently subbing and came home with a giant bagful of the stuff, just in time for this class.

      Thanks for the congrats! Will I be seeing you at NYSATA in Albany this November?