Suri’s toy/ a kid’s act of kindness

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Suri is going into 6th grade in September.  She had this green toy that you can pull and stretch.  I said I wanted to get one for my friend Jaquese who loves to tear and pull things apart.  He is a Bancroft student who I adore.  He is in a wheelchair and has a strong arm and a weak one.  He will go nuts for this toy I said and showed Suri his picture.  She asked to borrow the sharpie I had and quietly washed the toy and redrew the eyes and mouth.   She gave the toy to me at the end of our time together to give to Jaquese.  It still brings me close to tears thinking of this generous modest spirit in one so young.  She has a special needs sister that can be difficult.   She handles it with such love,empathy, and understanding.  She makes me so happy in this world that makes me sad,angry, and depressed.  This kid makes me feel hopeful that the world has more kindness than I could possibly imagine.

Can’t wait to bring it to Jaquese

Love you Suri

More on MUJC in Warren NJ

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.

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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.

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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.

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A kids Sponge Bob

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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.

 

Going out of Bancroft with a Bang

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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.

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We started inside playing with different sounds to find what we liked best.

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Kalop loving the sounds and the sunshine.  We had a wonderful day for this project.

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So my final day was joyous, sad, and very noisy.

Meet Ja’quese and our fishing toy

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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. IMG_0559

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.IMG_0555

Ja’quese laughing at me with an Ipad taking his picture

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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.

Wowza MUJC

Today we laid it all out on the floor and it looks amazing so far.  I’m finding that mosaic and making small clay parts with cookie cutters and handmade partsIMG_20180404_111633888 when possible is ideal for this community of learners.  Paper mache also.  I think these kids benefit greatly from hands on tactile repetitive experiences.  These are techniques that work with all levels of ability to create a fabulous whole.  Today Dasante came running into the art room with a big smile on his face.  We all need more art then we get normally.  It touches us in places that can’t be measured.  It touches these children in ways we should be paying more attention too.IMG_20180404_111658113IMG_20180404_111721607Dasante’s butterfly

I’m happy that I got the proportions right!

New fun at MUJC

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.IMG_20180322_132756190this 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.

IMG_20180322_132751267_HDRI 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.IMG_20180315_111353353We 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.