Monthly Archives: April 2008


We’ve arrived at the last project of the year in the 4th grade classroom-sculpture. If you’ve been reading this blog since last year this will be familiar as it’s the same project we ended on then. I snapped a few quick pics last week in between helping the kids prepare their armatures for plastering.

wood base, wire coat hanger, and nylon stocking
2 holes were drilled in the wood base (part of my old fencing chopped up) and each end of a cut wire coat hanger were inserted into the holes. the students then could bend and design the wire in any way they liked and pull a nylon stocking over the entire thing.

wood-free/recycled, wire hangers- donated by the dry cleaners, nylon stockings purchased for $10,

pile of sculpture armatures waiting to be plastered……

planning for the art show now entitled: Practice Looking- a year of art in our 4th grade room

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LA Times Article

Here’s the link- Longfellow is mentioned along with it’s “Longfellow Legacy” . Don’t forget to read some of the comments. It’s leading the list of today’s most emailed articles.

public schools, private money

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student shibori

click on each image for a larger view-


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another day with shibori

Yesterday’s lesson was a continuation of shibori dyeing in which the kids dyes a hemmed silk handkerchief that they will be able to keep or perhaps give as a gift.

After last weeks lesson focusing on experimentation with the dyeing of 3 squares of silk, I wanted to introduce the idea of intention in regards to shibori. I handed out squares of white paper representing their silk hankies along with crayons and markers and asked them to create a design they could attempt to replicate with shibori techniques, using their knowledge and experience from last week to guide them. I suggested they could fold the paper like they had done on their itajime pieces to help them figure out the patterning if that was the style they were going to use. I find I have to be very careful with what I tell them as the power of suggestion is so strong that often they can focus on my suggestion to the exclusion of their own creativity. I’d rather nudge them along IF they get stuck than tell them exactly what to do. This isn’t failsafe but just a general practice. The designing stage was also necessary to keep 30 kids busy while letting them come to the back in 3’s & 4’s to dye their piece.
Of course many students created some wonderful designs on paper but discovered that they were impossible to recreate as shibori using the materials and methods at hand. This too, was part of the lesson- that even though we have intent in artmaking we sometimes have to adjust along the way to accommodate the process’ limitations. Sometimes we abandon it altogether, sometimes we adjust. We learn and add to our experience for another day.
A few of the designs were successfully recreated on the silk. Many were adjusted. Many AHA moments occurred as they learned what they could and couldn’t do. Everyone wanted to do more. But alas, the lunch bell rang and time was up. We’re going to do it once more next week and offer the results for sale at our gallery show. I’ll edit this post a little later and add a few photos……


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funding public education….

I just had to post a link to this article which appeared in the LA Times today regarding the education funding crisis we are facing. How do we fit into this picture? Are we part of the solution or part of the problem?

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This past Monday in the 4th grade classroom we gave a lesson on shibori. After a weekend of demonstrating shibori at the Cherry Blossom Festival in Little Tokyo we were well trained!

Here’s Bryce (who’s in the 4th grade class) at the festival with his “hanabi” or fireworks origami. He learned from the master (& inventor) of this design who was demonstrating his origami skills at the festival. Bryce says he’ll teach me to fold this design.


I still had all the supplies in the car and ready to go! We set up the colorhue dyes in the back of the room and had the kids prepare their resists on the silk squares at their desks before coming up to dye. Once they had done one, they were given another square of silk along with another set of resists to prepare before coming back to the table again. Each student was allowed 3 pieces and we rotated all 30 through the dye table 3 times in that hour. Phew!


We’ll be doing textiles all month and will be making handkerchiefs next week. We usually do these and suggest they save theirs to give as a Mother’s Day gift. But some just can’t wait ’till May! We’re also going to make some to sell at our “gallery show” coming up in May.

Speaking of the gallery show, we’ve secured the meeting room at our local library branch (Dana Library). Our show will open on May 29 and run through June 7, 2008. We will have a reception for the artists, friends and families on Thursday May 29, 5:30 – 8:00PM.
Our show will be available for viewing during regular library hours only. Notices will be handed out in class.

ALSO….last night was Open House at the elementary school. We went over and displayed some of the artwork that has been collected so far this year. The kids attended with their parents and it was great fun listening to them describe the process of making some of the projects. The kids really enjoyed telling their parents how the Gyotaku printing was done. The parents were very supportive of what we are doing and we even met another dad who is an artist and wants to volunteer as well.

For anyone who would like to volunteer in the LBUSD schools, it is necessary to become a VIP first.

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why arts education matters

National Endowment for the Arts Chairman Dana Gioia Explains Why the Arts Matter
[ Listen]
Dana Gioia discusses — in dynamic and cogent terms — why the arts matter. The power of art, he says, is to “open up possibilities of existence that otherwise never touch everyday life.” As chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts, he says that we live in a society and economy “which does not support the arts at any public level.” Gioia contends that artists and intellectuals themselves are partially to blame for not communicating the reasons why art matters to the broader community. He argues we must encourage arts education — not to produce more artists — but to help create complete human beings. If the U.S. is to prosper in the 21st Century, Gioia says, it will be through creativity, innovation, and ingenuity — all nourished by the arts.

Recorded before a live audience at Barnsdall Art Park as part of the Zócalo Public Square Lecture Series.

You can go here and read his commencement address to 2007 Stanford graduates.

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