I am finished for this school year and it has been so interesting and only occasionally frustrating. This is a great school with engaged staff and administration. My glitches were the business office ordering materials and getting the building folks to play nice with art and women. It all worked out and we had our grant extended into next year. This is so important for this type of learners to have at least 2 years. This is a developmental learning school and what I might take for granted takes more time. On the last day students finally looked at me directly and related verbally. Jayde learned my name instead of saying “excuse me” all the time. On the last day we got students to draw things for the next part of the mural. I think autistic kids and most of us need to see something concrete not abstract to understand. I have been blessed with being able to see the big picture and help others do the steps to create something. I’m kind of an art general contractor. Most aren’t like me that way I’m finally realizing. Hopefully this realization will make me a better teacher.
What we have so far. This is 16 ft by 8 ft high and the lighting makes it so hard to photograph. It is a curved wall so that is why I went with an appliqué approach. The high relief bits are attached with construction adhesive and temporary screws. It was decided that I could install. This gave me the opportunity to have students set tiles directly on the wall and one of the most rewarding parts of the process. We now have 16 additional feet to work with. I’m delighted students now get it and are excited about designing more. I can’t wait to see how things develop next year.
Our high relief dog. A student made a drawing of a teacher’s dog that we used. We have an F-16(I think that’s the right plane) that another student drew.
A kids Sponge Bob
Some handmade clay bits with our background of blue glass tiles. I had them set handmade tile and glass tile on small pieces of mesh. This was a great way to have kids apply tile to the wall. I always want to know what clay and glazes were used so for us it was some kind of low fire white that I found in the art room and rehydrated. We used Amaco velvet underglazes my go to glaze for inside and outside and a low fire gloss glaze. I had most of the kids use cookie cutters to make tiles but some made more unique tiles. John made his name and large! We spread the letters out throughout the mural.
We made a music contraption as my last project at Bancroft. I made a bamboo structure to hang objects that make noise on this last day. There was no thought of permanence. Just in the moment fun using whatever materials I had to work with. I used bamboo which I grow and know many spots in the area to get some. Then I tied it together with rebar wire or cable ties. There were tomato cages in the garden I put together in a more sculptural way to hang bamboo chimes from. On the way to school someone had thrown 2 bikes in the trash so I took the front wheels. I had a box of kitchen utensils from way back in the day when I was making armor from kitchen doodads.
We started inside playing with different sounds to find what we liked best.
Kalop loving the sounds and the sunshine. We had a wonderful day for this project.
So my final day was joyous, sad, and very noisy.
Ja’quese has been so much fun to play with for the last 6 years. I met him in the hallway with a volunteer before he started school. He grabbed my hand and we both started laughing and have been playing ever since. I look forward to hearing his squeals of delight when he sees or hears me. I’ve been playing with him in his wheel chair before class ends for a few years now. I love to hear him laugh. I wear an apron with art tools since I work on a lunch tray. One pocket has a light up rolling eyeball ,a snake finger puppet, and a zombie grandma popping eye toy. He likes to grab the apron and take the toys out. As an artist he excels at tearing paper to shreds! As a curious playful person he can’t be beat. My lesson for the past few weeks has been to make adaptive versions of some classic toys. I started with an old fashion fishing toy using magnets. This version has big fish that kids can hold and larger magnets so that the fish can be placed on the floor and fished from wheelchairs.
The fish are paper mache over a cardboard form. The fish have a large washer glued to the top and then painted with acrylics. I had a big magnet doodad from when I was a telephone installer and used that to fish with. It is tied to a piece of bamboo. It worked very well and Ja’quese really got the fishing idea.
Ja’quese laughing at me with an Ipad taking his picture
Ja’quese concentrating on catching a fish.
This coming Tuesday is my last day at Bancroft Voorhees. Budget cuts! Always the arts! I made a bamboo structure in the garden to turn into a musical contraption piece. I want to go out with cacophony and as much joy as I can muster without tears.
My big messy project is moving along. As always there were some scary times when materials were not arriving in time but nature took care of the delays with snow and school cancellations. As pictured I’ve been using paper twine to help kids follow whatever pattern we use. In this case a spiral. I’m finding that little parts like mosaic and small handmade bits engage these autistic types. Repetition is a great learning tool. I was told I was ADHD as an adult. I have a very short attention span or hyper focus. Mosaic is the only thing I could do all day and it works for these kids too. They seem to love it. I have no idea why it works for us but don’t really care. It works and that’s enough for me and the results are cool. I am loving working at this school. It feels like home. I drive almost 2hrs to and from so this is a good thing. Mosaic Art Supply pulled through getting us tile in time…we are using glass tile and applying them and the handmade bits to mesh to set on plywood with thinset later.this is a great way to have kids explore the medium and than cut and paste to make it work on the final piece. Handmade cutouts with mosaic look ok no matter what happens and that’s why I love it for my big messy projects.
I like to add unique big objects designed by kids or staff… in this one the art teacher Barbara drew a sketch of her cat to use. A student drew another teachers dog that morphed into a 3D version to mosaic. One student drew an F16 to add in the sky. All good by me.
I find it’s good to mix a few whites together for a thing than just one color. the cat is a combination of 3 whites and the background is a combination of 4 blues. the tiles are attached to the cat form with Elmers. I prefer tacky glue or Weldbond but they didn’t come in time. Any PVA glue will work. If it gets messy they are water soluble and scrub off of cement products in the end. Interior projects have more wiggle room. If the tiles are set too close it isn’t a big deal since you aren’t dealing with water penetration and frost.We have a kiln!!!! even if kids mush up the colors they work out. We used cookie cutters to make tiles for kids to underglaze. I have been using Amaco Velvets. It seems like even if kids mush up the colors it works out. Those that could make more unique parts did but every kid had a good time. The school had dried up white clay that we rehydrated and hand wedged and rolled with a rolling pin. We then put a gloss glaze on top so everything turned pink. I never get bored seeing things come out shiny from the kiln after the glaze firing.
Since starting to draw this way awhile back I’m getting better and learning so many new things. I’m finding it addictive to draw like this. I started with the Adobe Draw app. I really enjoyed drawing in this app but it kept crashing so I looked for something else. Part of my problem with the app was a stylus. Once you start drawing more you find your finger just isn’t as precise. Then it’s off to learn about stylus. The types and choices can be daunting. I bought a box of 10 for under 5 bucks and quickly switched to a box of 2 for 14 bucks. The box of 2 has a clear disk on the tip( like an Adonit Jot) so you can see where your lines start. It has a fiber like tip on the other end that works like the cheaper stylus and it came with extra tips. Then I found a discounted Adonit Touch so I bought that to try. It is pretty great and lets you draw with pressure sensitivity so the line width changes like a real world fountain pen. It crashed Adobe Draw alot though. So I switched to the Concepts app.Concepts is more complex and a cross between a drawing app and a CAD app. I’ve been using the Ipad app Archisketch for simple CAD drawings that need scale and measurements. Now I start there and then color them in Concepts. Mostly I’m playing. I’ve been drawing my tin toys. In Concepts I only had to draw one gator and then duplicate,rotate ,and scale. You can drag and drop from anything on your Ipad which is really amazing….even from the web This one of tin fish I will probably change. Layers are so liberating. I can delete the water bit and try something else without starting all over again because the parts are drawn on different layers. Both programs are great fun to learn. Concepts does more so a steeper learning curve. It is worth learning though. I am having so much fun learning this stuff.
Abdulla drew an amazing image of Gail’s dog. So much changes in the translation to 3D. I did my best to get the spirit of it. It will continue to change. These group projects are like whisper down the lane and what you start with transforms along the way as you add new techniques and materials. In the end it seems everyone involved feels a sense of ownership. I love this. Personally, I made some great discoveries about foam cutting tools this week. I will never use a corrugated shaper again because they make a fine mess that sticks to you and everything else by static electricity. A “knife” of all sorts is the way to go. I found some info online about using a sharpened drywall knife to cut foam and it is great. The trades are an excellent source of information to tweak to art. I bought knife blades for my portable jigsaw..also great. I then tried a knife blade on my Fein multitool and wow…amazing too. No more little bits to clean up! this is such a BIG improvement for me not only because power tools make things easier but doing hand cutting works better too. I now have shavings to collect and they don’t respond to static electricity the same way. We started making clay bits last week but I am having too much fun to photograph it…hopefully next week I will take some pics. The students are doing so well…I only wish I knew what was going on in their heads.
We are covering the forms with paper now. These students are doing so well that they complete whatever I bring in for the day. This is another messy job but we have a big tarp under the work table to contain the mess. This time I am using unyru paper rolls and diluted elmers glue. I love this paper but it has gotten too expensive to use in my future school projects. I will switch to bogus paper available at places that sell packaging material. It is recycled newsprint and kraft paper but slightly heavier. You need a paper that is unsized so it is more malleable. Sized papers are stiff. Unsized papers eventually become pulp. Unryu is very strong,stays workable for a long time and covers in one or two layers. Bogus paper usually requires more layers and isn’t as malleable but it works well enough and it’s cheap. My personal favorite is blotter paper. It is thick and covers in one layer but turns to pulp fast so hard to use with kids. Last year I used what I called art snot as an adhesive with what I called bogie paper. Great art terms for 2nd graders. It is methyl cellulose and I used Elmers art paste. I had trouble with the layers de-laminating and haven’t tested it again so I went with white glue which I know works. The paper needs to form a hard stable surface over the foam.