Sunday, March 14, 2010

Patchwork Rain Stick Project for children

Wow this has been a busy week but now that the opening of my show is over with, I will have lots more breathing room! One week of classes left on the term and vaction in the states for three weeks will make the next month pass very quickly!
I am late posting the weekly update because of the opening but here it is now!

This week my 5 yr old class and the 5-7 yr old class created patchwork rain sticks. This was a messy job but they had fun and worked on some good motor skills and spacial relationships.
The monday 5-7 group is a longer class in addition to them being older and a little more developed. As a result, their completed projects were more refined than the 5 yr olds and they were able to do more of the work!
I prepared the tubes and blocked one end for them before class. I prepared the foil that goes inside the tube which makes the sound of rain when the grain that is added runs along it. I let this group put the foil inside, add the grain themselves and put the end caps on with tape. Once this was accomplished I gave them scissors and a pile of upholstery fabric samples to cut up and glue

onto their stick. Their goal was to not leave any cardboard showing and to be sure all edges of the fabric were glued down. I highly recommend covering the working surface with blank newspint on the ends of rolls which is usually given away at your local newspaper. We have gallon jugs of glue which I poured into small cups and provided paint brushes for them to paint the glue on with.
The end results were quite nice. Their challenge though was getting the ends of fabric glued down. I had to keep reminding them to be sure to paint the edges of the fabric so that it would stay down. There must be a learning curve to installing the foil for best effect though. Our rain sticks make a nice sound but you had to giggle the sticks a bit to keep it going.

When the 5 yr olds do the same project on tuesday that the 5-7 yr old class does on monday, I have the advantage of tailoring the project to fit their skill and attention level. I made sure first of all to cover the tables this time :-) I also knew that they would not be able to insert the foil and cap the ends themselves. I had them work on cutting various fabric scraps that they could share while I filled the tubes with foil. I then went to each child to let them pour in their own grain and capped the ends for them. By the time that was done, they had cut enough fabric pieces for the class to use to glue onto their pieces. Their rain sticks weren't very tidy but they still enjoyed them and were happy to take them home!

The stick to the left is my class sample. I'm sorry to report that I did not get proper photos of the children's finsihed sticks!

I've run into a glitch with the 8 & up class project! I had planned that this would be a four week project but the class schedule was incorrect and we now have only one class left of term, when I was planning on two. YIKES! The children had not yet begun to stitch their surface designs on so I was able to have them simplify their designs a bit and hope that we will be able to get them done in the last two hour class. I will email their moms and ask if they can come early next week so that they can have a bit more time to work on them and finish them up. I had tried to plan the project so that they would not end up with the piece incomplete and not ever be able to wear it. I hope we succeed!
One of my students will not get to finish and in fact never got to design or stitch on hers at all as she broke her arm badly last week! We all wish her a quick recovery and look forward to her return to class next term.

Until next week.................

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Successful Opening at the Elliot Gallery!

Last night was amazing!
The reward for all of my many hours of working in the studio to create this new body of work was all about last night's event. And an event it was! I am very lucky to have somehow formed a relationship with two Bermudian artists whose work blends well with mine. For the second year in a row we have had one of, if not THE most well attended art show at the Elliot Gallery at Kaleidoscope Art Foundation.

Here are some photos of the show.

Artist Ronnie Chameau is most known in Bermuda for her Banana Doll Ornaments and in 2009 was rewarded for those efforts by being featured on a holiday postage stamp collection. What few people knew was that her true love is water color painting! Her ink and water colors paintings of Bermuda cottages is a delight with some of them resembling photographs until you look at them more closely! This year she featured more than 20 paintings from her collection.

Ronnie Lopes is a Bermudian of Portuguese descent and a multi talent as well. Ronnie owns a pet shop in Devonshire, raises prize winning chickens, is a talented musician who performs here and abroad AND began creating rustic furniture from Bermudas blow downs, removals  and recycled lumber. His following is ever increasing and he somehow finds time in his busy work life to create some pretty wonderful things! He has ventured out into some more artful pieces for the garden shown at this event. His oversized tricycle and garden wheel barrow were a big hit.

My work this year was about new things for me as well. I did not show one hairlock painting! Since the Bermuda fiber festival I have discovered the beauty and intrigue of Nuno Felting.  As a result, I created a clothing collection made from silk using that technique. Additionally I have been playing with dyes and incorporated some Shibori dyeing techiniques into several pieces for the show.

In the end, this show for me was about trying new things, setting a goal, and finding my confidence by believing in my gut. I had no idea when I began working on this show what would evolve beyond a few sketches but I knew I would not likely show  any paintings. It wasn't until January that I had a firm grasp of where my work was taking me and all along the way and up until a few weeks ago, I was unsure that it would finds it's way to the finish.
What I learned along the way is.... Do what you love with passion and it WILL come together. Seeing the final collection on display including the clothing on live models, and being able to stand back and be satisfied and proud of  the results of my work was one of the most rewarding things I have ever accomplished!
Artists all create with the hope of selling some of their work. Having been in the clothing industry in my early career, I know what a challenge that can be. The fact that I did indeed sell some work with several possible commissions was more than I could have imagined!

But I digress form the big picture....

Ronnie Lopes invited some friends and felow musicians to jam with him at the opening. What a treat for
anyone who attended! A gathering of a half dozen of Bermuda's top musicians who don't necessarily ever play together, gathered and entertained us in a rare performance.

But that's still not all! Bermudians like to party and eat! Ronnie Lopes Portuguese family provided home made Kale and Red Bean soups and Ronnie Chameau had a friend make a "gurt pot" of Bermudian spicy fish chowder. Radio personality, in our pre show publicity, clarified to his audience that " a gurt defines the pot, not the soup!".
Make food and they will come they said.
And come they did......

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Bermuda Papers Feature Upcoming Show!

The count down has begun as the show opening fast approaches!

It's satruday morning and my goal is to have all pieces completed by tomorrow night with the exception of pressing out the wrinkles in the garments that need it.  I see no reason not to be with the two pieces remaining that still need some work. YEAH! It's been a long but very rewarding two months of creating new and exciting things!
My compatriots and I have enjoyed some very nice publicity in the last few days with feature coverage in the two major newspapers on the island and we are scheduled to be interviwed on the David Lopes show on ZBM radio (am 1340) Bermuda on monday morning at 7:30am. Tune in to hear all about our show!

Helen Jardine of the Bermuda Sun ran an article last wednesday and the Royal Gazette's Jesse Moniz ran one in yesterday's paper with a front page teaser which was an awesome extra! Photos in the Gazette and the one I have posted here were taken by Mark Tatem who is one of the local favorite news photographers.

I hope that if you are on the "rock" that you will find a way to pop in to our event, and an event it is indeed! Ronnie Lopes is a musician and a few of his talented friends will be playing live keyboards and classical guitar in the background. Coming from a Portuguese heritage, Ronnie's family will be making and serving several Portuguese soups and Bermuda native Ronnie Chameau is providing a Bermuda fish chowder. Let's not forget our purpose though :-) On exhibit and all available for purchase will be Ronnie Chameau's rarely seen water color collections, Ronnie Lopes' rustic furniture with some fun yard art pieces and lots of new work from me will be seen on live models, so don't miss this event! A fun time will be had by all who come!

March 11th, 6 - 8 pm at the Elliot Gallery, Kaleidoscope Arts Foundation in Devonshire on the corner of Jubilee & Parsons Road.

See you there!

Friday, March 5, 2010

Fun with Children & Fiber Projects!

It seems I just posted but more than a week has passed. WOW!

Each week brings me new surprises and learning potential. I make notes in my teaching journal for future reference and hope that I will find opportunities to continue teaching children fiber arts once I leave the island next fall.
This week the 5-7 yr old group continued to work on their needlepoint on plastic canvas. They are doing a great job considering this skill is a tough one for their little hands and minds to grasp. Not only are they using motor skills to maneuver the needle in and out of holes, they have to choose the right one to give them the proper pattern! Most know when they have erred and call me to the rescue but unless they have a knot or have made an egregious error that will give them gaps in their work, I allow the stitches to remain. Age doesn't necessarily dictate their progress. One of my youngest students is a diligent and focused child. As a result, she has completed more of her project than any other in class. I have no doubt that this project would be done by now if they could keep their attention on their work instead of what happened at school..... BUT, they are still little children after all :-)
I will give this project a rest for next week. I do not want them to become discouraged or bored with their progress. Another time I would use a smaller piece to learn this technique. They are always anxious to finish a piece so that they can take it home and show it off to their parents. I fear that this is one that they will not complete.

The five year olds had fun this week creating Yarn Bugs! I called them Love Bugs since we used little heart shapes for their mouths. This project gave them motor skill practice as they wrapped yarn around a block of wood to create the huge pompom that would become their bug! I asked them to count 100 wraps; no easy task for five year olds! I gave them a scrap of paper and pencil and asked them to wrap ten and make a mark, and do that ten times. Several accomplished that task, though not without error, Still, it was a good lesson in concentration, something they all need help with at this age. Although they are all five, I can pick out the youngest of the group by their attention and class behaviour. Keeping on task with a job has to be about something fun. To encourage wrapping from this child, he was reeling in a fish from way out at sea on the line of yarn. It worked!
After their pompoms were made with help from them to tie the center knot, the poms were placed over a styrofoam ball and glued in place. I had to help get get pipe cleaner legs into the foam. I hadn't anticipated this to be a problem but finding your way to the foam through the yarn was a bit challenging and once hte pipe cleaner ends have been bent, they will never pierce the foam. They then chose pom eyes and a heart for the mouth which we glued on with hot glue.
They were quite pleased with their projects when they left the classroom!

Onto the bigger kids....
This group is finishing up their woven stash bags woven on a cardboard loom. While they were working on those, I had a wonderful Montissouri teacher helping with the class as I  began working on our next project. We are making a felt vest from commercial cloth which they are going to do crewel embroidery designs on. I have asked them to use simple symbols inspired from native american work. Wednesday I took two children at a time and taught them how to take proper measurements. We are not using a pattern since we are creating a very simple design using a rectangle of cloth that will have a slit for the front and a slit for the neck (in a T shape). The sides will be stitched up with yarn as in shoe lacing style and they will embelish the back of the vest with stitchery. While most of the class was weaving, I worked with two at a time so that by the time class was over, each had calculated the necessary dimension of their cloth, marked it and cut it out. We spent the last 15 minutes of class working on design. The most difficult part of that process is to have them understand what it means to have a simple design. I have found this time, as in the past, that they tend to get carried away with details in their drawings. I will have to help them edit to be sure they have not created a design that they will never be able to accomplish in our class time. I have suggested that they work out their basic design to begin with and adding steps of detail in small increments; stages if you will, that they can work on with good stopping points. This way as time allows, they can add a stage of development. My concern and what I am trying to avoid is a project that they can never possibly finish in our class time and their attention spans. It is important that they not bite off more than they can chew. It is important to me as well as them that they be successful and be able to wear this out of the last class of the term!

Until next time..................