This month at Bancroft we continued playing with a basic electric circuit by making a ping pong ball contraptions. You can find instructions on YouTube for all sorts of things using little motors. Vibration motors work so well with this population. If you can see they move and have color. If you can hear they make sounds. If touch is your dominant sense they vibrate. Staff and students all got a ping pong ball massage. Unfortunately I got a few teachers hair caught up in the propeller but no harm was done. I put it on kids heads and called it a brain massage. Great responses today from kids that don’t always respond. I got all the parts…motors,switches, batteries etc. on Amazon(contact me if you need details). I do so miss Radio Shack and the mad scientist section of Edmund Scientific though. It’s a new world.
I’m just getting to know Michael. He was fascinated with the whole process. He along with his classmate Ethan chose colored sticks and Michael didn’t try to eat his. They chose ping pong balls and we played with them before getting down to business. Ethan lost interest but Michael watched and listened to the entire assembly process. I gave him the finished project and he was still playing with it when I moved on to another class.
I recently found a great website ipadartroom.com. This teacher is amazing and encourages using an Ipad as an art making tool no more precious than a crayon. I’ve torn through most of her lessons. You want to respect your art materials and maybe an Ipad more since it’s pricey….BUT… At least for me it’s been used too preciously and therefore not enough. For me personally this has helped with artist block. What I’ve learned is that having the integrated camera makes drawing more spontaneous. I can snap a pic and use it as a starting point by tracing. Layers make experimenting easy. I can try all sorts of things ie: colors,tracing with out starting all over again. To be able to undo and delete is liberating. I believe this will be as great with kids that think they can’t make art as it’s been for me. I’ve been obsessed with drawing on the thing. I’ve been using the free Adobe draw app.
This month we made sguigglebots and it worked very well with these kids. Vibration motors were a hit with most of the students. They seemed to enjoy the feel of them and we had good reactions. The sound was stimulating to them also. Visually they were less interesting to the students but the staff loved it. A few more able students picked them up and were fascinated by the spinning propeller on top.
Patrick was engaged with the contraption without the markers. Check out that smile! Next week we move on to moving gizmos with ping pong balls, sticks, and more vibration motors
This week I put the totem together in the garden. It’s cold now and the garden is covered in leaves and we can’t take kids outside. It does look great though. I put the sections together with landscape adhesive and shimmed it level as I added parts. I have never never used construction adhesive to join this kind of thing so it will be interesting to see how it holds up. In the spring it will get grouted between the parts or taken apart if the adhesive fails and mortared together.
I love this photo of the proud artist and it’s even in focus.
Yesterday I did 3 workshops at the Moore symposium “Sculptural Practices for Diverse Learning Needs”. I work with kids and doing the professional development with teachers required by grants always scares the shit out of me. I’m not a real teacher and I find them intimidating. I had to write an academic sounding description for the workshop so it was Creating a Large Vision through Cooperation. Writing really isn’t my thing as those of you following this blog may have noticed.
Most of my photos are out of focus but I’m adding some anyway. Not only do teachers scare me but I rarely agree to do one time workshops. I think of them as fast food artmaking like a McDonalds happy art meal. I like to work with a group for at least 12 days so I get to know students. I found that it wasn’t so bad and wasn’t so scary once I got started. Somehow there were classes full of grownups smiling, talking, and playing nice with others. The room was full of laughing, and chatter. The big creative mess we made pleased me the most. It is possible I prefer the longer experience because I see progress. In these one time workshops I just have to have faith that some learning has taken place and get used to it.
It went well. When I looked at the photos I took there were lots of smiles in a room that looked like art was happening. I might be open to doing this kind of thing again!
One young woman disappeared at the end of class and left this piece. It says it all.
I finished the grouting at home today. Grouting can be so time sensitive. If you clean it too early you remove grout and too late and it becomes hard to clean. Today I was lucky and got it just right. I mixed grey Portland cement today since I’ve been working with it on my own projects. The proportion I use is one part Portland to 3 parts yellow sand. You can use commercial grout unless you have big spaces between tiles. When the tiles dry and lighten I rub off grout with a dry sanding sponge. Then I use a wet sponge that has been rung out and not too wet. The last step is to use a dry towel to polish the tiles a bit and then you are done. The grout can be stained with diluted acrylics if needed or you can add powder or liquid color to the mix. I will color the base once it drys. The doves still need to be filled out with a white Portland cement and white sand mix. It is harder to find but the very fine bright white sand sometimes used in ashtrays is my favorite. Next I will put a foundation in the garden and install in the Bancroft garden. I can’t wait!
I hope to revisit school projects this year to see how they look today. I worked in an after school program for several years on a small garden. We started in 2009. Students designed and I helped build these sculptures. Landis is no longer a school but looks like a construction site today. It is a historic building so it is being renovated in some way for a new purpose. Trailers were removed so one side of the garden is open now. Flourishing weeds surround the sculpture. It has faded but still looks good. Alphonso the squirrel still greets whoever comes by. To see the garden at the height of it’s glory check it out at sjmoc.com/community/Landis’09