Crochet a Coral Reef

It's almost time to return back to school from winter break. I'm at home with a cold (booooo...) but thinking about art class when we return.

Mrs. Bensfield and I are planning to start an after-school club for textile arts! Our project is "Crochet a Coral Reef," which is a really sweet mix of math, science, and visual arts. We're going to learn basic crochet skills to create incredible pieces of "coral" made from yarn!

Want to see some more photos of what we're thinking of? Need more information? Check it out here or at the Institute for Figuring, who were the originators of the idea.

In order to run our club, we need help with supplies.  Can you donate, or do you know anyone who might be able to?  Please share this link with them: http://www.donorschoose.org/donors/proposal.html?id=493031 -- this is our "Donors Choose" site to raise funds for our project.  Any and all help is greatly appreciated!

If you're interested in joining the Crochet Coral Reef Project at Sandburg, keep an eye (and ear) out for information posted at school when we return!  Tell your friends, too!


Happy Holidays!

Happy Holidays!
Animoto had this cool holiday theme for a video - it has stop-motion-like animation, so I chose to use it as a background for a 2 minute video with our 8th grade typography sculptures.

Today is our last day before break. We'll see you again on January 3rd! Stay safe and have a wonderful relaxing break!


Music and Art

This morning I went to music class and was an audience member for the 7th grade class. They were performing original compositions inspired by the work of contemporary composer John Cage. He made really cool "abstract" music, including one that is made up entirely of rests - no "sound" at all! Cage also altered instruments to produce new and strange sounds, and used non-traditional objects to make music - like household appliances! I later learned that John Cage was inspired by artist Marcel Duchamp and worked with painter Robert Rauschenberg. I love when art and music connects... it's two of my favorite things!

Here's a video of a performance from one of the groups. I believe the title was called "A Day in the Life." Enjoy!


Preview of 8th Grade Photoshop Project

This is a preview of what's to come for 8th grade art.  After the holiday break (which starts after this Friday!), we will be creating Photoshop images using our typography sculptures and some background photos of the school I took back in the fall.  Thank goodness I took those photos back when the weather was nicer... I wouldn't want to be out in the snow right now!

I used a photo of my typography sculpture and placed it onto the background image.  This is done using the "Magic Extractor" tool in Photoshop - we'll learn it in class, so don't worry if you don't know how.  If you do it once, you get the basic idea, so you'll repeat the process to add a couple photos of yourself into the image.  I used one sitting and one standing, but you could do all sorts of things: fly in the air, climb the building wall like Spiderman, sit on top of your sculpture... you get the idea.

In preparation for this project, I took some nice photos of finished 8th grade work, which will soon be up on our Artsonia gallery.  But for now, here's a few of my favorites to come:

Are you excited for this project?  I am!


Spirit Week!

This week (Dec 13 - 17) is spirit week at Sandburg.  Today is "Hat Day:"

This is my DEVO energy dome hat.  You might recognize it easier if it was red - those were the hats that the guys in the band DEVO wore in the video for "Whip It."  I got this blue one at their concert this summer and have been saving it just for hat day!  How fun!

Here's the schedule for the rest of the week:
  • Tuesday, 12/14 - "Color" Day: 6th = Blue, 7th = Green, 8th = Red, Staff = Pink
  • Wednesday, 12/15 - "Holiday Character" Day
  • Thursday, 12/16 - "Crazy Hair" Day
  • Friday, 12/17 - "Dress Up" Day
Personally, I always wanted a spirit day that was "Favorite Band T-Shirt" Day.  That way a bunch of the boys automatically participate whether they like it or not.  Ha ha!  Also, I have a good excuse to wear my Def Leppard t-shirt to school...  oh well.

Do you have any good spirit day ideas?



Most of the time, the art curriculum stays the same for most of the year and I spend time repeating the same project across a grade level.  If you're a student, you never know because the project is always new to YOU.  However, I start to get bored after awhile.  It's not that the project isn't fun, I've just seen it way too many times! 

So, when it comes to displaying art, I have to be careful that my displays don't start to look like "the same thing, over and over" either.  I switch it up.  I have a few things that I do that I'd like to share, because it can help other teachers, or if you're a student, maybe you can use these ideas for decorating your spaces (like your room) or for making interesting school presentations!

Mrs. Leban's Tips for Non-Boring Displays:
  • Have an interesting title.  Maybe the choice of words is interesting, or it's how you visually present it that's interesting.  I switch things up: sometimes I print it out on the computer, use a different font, use a different color paper - or don't print it out at all!  Sometimes I draw it, sometimes I cut each letter out of paper... you get the idea.
  • Backgrounds.  Make that interesting too.  I have a bunch of old (donated) discontinued wallpaper that makes a great background for bulletin boards.  I also painted the cork on the bulletin boards black, and sometimes I make the background striped or checkerboard:
(Find out more about this project here and here.)
  • Consider matting/framing each work of art in the display.  Sometimes its as simple as stapling a bigger piece of construction paper behind each work of art.  Make sure it's not the same color as the background if you do this, though.
  • Unusual objects and 3-dimensional details: What can you add to a display that's unexpected and will make people look twice?  Once I used yarn to "sew" borders between each artwork so the bulletin board looked like one big quilt.  Do you have any interesting paper, like foil or holographic stock?  What kind of 3-dimensional details can you add?  Once I made a 3-D "film reel" out of cardboard for a display about student films.
  • Do you have access to an electrical outlet?  If you do, congratulations!  Nothing attracts peoples eyes like a good string of twinkle lights.  I have an electrical outlet in my main display case outside the office, so I regularly switch out string lights.  I also have a small digital photo frame on a timer to run a slideshow of students working in the art room and student work.  Even when the display itself is empty there's something to see on the frame.
  • Hang photos of students working on the project that's being displayed.  This helps people who haven't created the project understand how it was done.  Plus, I find that students like to look at pictures of each other and find their friends in group photos.
  • Hang or include materials and equipment that you've used to create the work.  A display case of printmaking looks cool if you include a carved plate, a tube of ink, a brayer, and some carving tools.  People once again gain a greater understanding of how the work was done.
  • Vary your display locations.  Because I repeat projects, I won't put one group of hand sculptures in a case right after another class' sculptures have come out.  If you do that, people sometimes don't even realize the work is new.  If you move work to another location, it looks fresher and people notice.
  • Use negative space well.  I'd rather space out the artwork so it's pleasant to look at instead of cramming all the work on one bulletin board (if I can help it).  Sometimes I put up one main display, and then the overflow goes to a smaller board or case in another spot.
  • Include a description of the project, at least the first time it goes up for the year, so people can read about the skills and concepts involved in the project.  Many people don't realize how smart art class is, so they need help - tell them!
  • Have fun with your displays.  Some of my favorites have been hanging lanterns in the main office and library, large tape sculptures that sat in various locations throughout the school, or the typography display where I spent hours crumpling pages from books to make a really awesome textural background... yeah, that one might've been a little overboard, but it looked great!
Here are a few more examples of how to vary displays:

Above: Student portraits hanging on a strip along the basement hallway.  Pretty standard.  They look good, but...

...how about this version?  That's some of my old wallpaper background (I love this pattern) and each artwork is stapled on top of a paper "frame" I cut from larger construction paper.  Then, I took famous art quotes and pasted them into speech bubbles which were then printed and cut out.  It looks like the self-portraits are talking!

To see more about this self-portrait project, view our Artsonia Gallery.


Printmaking Color Wheels

Sixth grade art just finished a really cool printmaking project.  They made their own stamps by carving out printmaking material into a letter shape of their choosing.  The stamps were then arranged in color wheel order.  The secondary and tertiary colors were made by layering stamped color together to see how they mix!  We used ordinary Crayola markers as our ink.  I think they turned out pretty awesome.  See our whole gallery of color wheels on our Artsonia art gallery for this project.


Finding inspiration.

If you're in art class right now, you know that Miss Bruzzini is student teaching right now, so I end up having some extra time on my hands.  Most of that time gets filled with boring stuff that I need to catch up on, but occasionally I have some time to make some art!

I've been teaching myself to make little fun crafts and accessories.  The latest are fabric flowers - made from all kinds of fabric scraps.  The above flower I made out of crushed velvet, but I found that t-shirt material works best!

Today, I sat in the library for about 30 minutes and just cut t-shirt material.  I ended up with a ton of flower petals, so I have a lot of flowers to make! 

When I work, I prefer to listen to music.  I zone out with my headphones on, or when I'm at home, I have the radio or my iPod on in the background.  Do you like to listen to music when you work?  What kind of music do you like to listen to while working?


This is not my artwork...

...I didn't make this, but Mr. Leban did.  He has a project where students take logos and change them into their own names.  He showed me some of the really cool examples, but I hadn't seen the one he made until now.  Don't you think it came out cool?  Did you figure out that it's a spoof of the LEGO logo?  I think that's perfect for him, since we both love legos, both the toys and the video games!  Have you played Lego Batman, Indiana Jones, Star Wars, or Rockband?  I love them all!

I hope he won't mind sharing so I can use this image here at Sandburg too...!


QR Codes

Mr. Leban has been doing a lot of stuff with QR codes lately, so I feel like I'm not doing my part if I don't try it out myself.  If you have a smart phone (such as an iPhone) you can download an app that allows you to scan and read these little square jumbly pictures - otherwise known as QR codes.  I read that QR codes are Japanese-created bar codes, and that the QR stands for "quick response"

I made one for the art blog here that takes you to the Sandburg Art home page:
They're surprisingly easy to use.  Just hold up your camera on your phone to the code (yep you can do it right here on the computer screen) and the app "reads" the information contained within the code.  Sometimes it's just text, other times it's a link to a website or video or something else! (FYI - I use a free app on my iPhone called "i-nigma" if you're looking for which to use)

Mr. Leban and I are always on the lookout for QR codes.  We even found one on the back of a tag from a packaged tiny eraser - it took us to the website of the manufacturer!  Even though the website was in another language, it was neat to see how a company might use QR codes to get people to interact with their products more.

This year, Sephora used QR codes in their holiday catalogs!  Next to photos of products to buy, there were QR codes that (when scanned on your phone) take you to how-to videos or short commercials for the products.  I had a ton of fun interacting with the catalog when it arrived in the mail.

Have you spotted QR codes anywhere?


Personalize your holiday gifts & cards!

Just a friendly reminder that Artsonia is a great place to buy holiday gifts for family and friends while supporting your school!  15% of all sales at Artsonia go back to your school for purchasing art supplies to keep the program running.

(I am currently saving up to buy an iPEVO camera for the classroom!)

Consider sending personalized student art holiday cards, t-shirts, mugs, keychains, or even ornaments with your child's artwork on it!
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