Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Jungle Gems Glaze Product Review

Last year, my 4th grade students created coil pots as Mother's Day gifts. This year, we're doing it again! I purchased some exciting new glazes called Jungle Gems to make this project even more fun. In addition, I asked the PTO  to purchase flowers to plant in the flower pots (they have a small hole in the bottom, and a saucer, so flowers can be planted directly in them!), and the PTO was totally on board. I am super excited about these gifts! I think we'll have a lot of happy mothers in May.

Because these glazes are new to me, I wasn't sure what to expect! I've used only Amaco glazes in the past. It's a big risk to buy enough of a new glaze to use with 90 4th graders, so I'm going to share my experiences with you, in case any other art teachers who read my blog are considering them.

First, the good:

1. This is probably obvious, but: they look cool!

2. The results are consistent! The bottle says 3 layers of glaze, so in order to save time, I told my students to do two thick layers. Some students have a different idea of "thick" than others, so despite various amounts of glaze, all the pots came out marvelously.

3. Along with that, the colors don't get blotchy where the glaze is thicker or thinner on each pot. I can't imagine my 4th graders all glazed perfectly evenly all the way around, but the glaze looks even on all sides!

Now for the bad:

1. They are very hard (nearly impossible!) to stir! All the crystals are at the bottom. Shaking the bottle or leaving it upside down for two weeks does nothing. I had to use a giant popsicle stick to stir the bottle up, and it was hard. Pouring some of the glaze into another container helps.

2. The little glass crystals are sharp! I got some cuts on my hands from handling the glazes and glazed pots, but the students did not from just handling their own. rubber gloves could be helpful.

3. Is it safe to wash paint brushes in the sink? I'm concerned about glass crystals clogging my drain!

4. They fire to Cone 06, which is different from all of the other glazes I have (Amaco F-series, O-series, LT, and LM), which fire to Cone 05. It can be annoying to not be able to fire all glazed projects together.

And now for the verdict: Would I use them again? Yes! Would I recommend them to others? Yes, they are an easy way to get interesting surface designs on pottery.

I purchased 9 colors, and now I'm going to review each one individually. It's hard to tell from the catalog how the colors look, so here are some photos:

1. Firecracker. A bright red with yellow and orange dots. Very consistent, and popular with the students.

2. Peacock Green. I love this color! The photo does not do it justice, at all! It is very shiny, almost iridescent, with many shades of green throughout.

3. Sassy orange. Yellow with orange and green dots. Very bright and bold.

4. Lagoon blue. A bit of a disappointment; mostly just blue with white dots; it seems to have a few green spots as well. It's a nice color, but the crystals don't do much for it.

5. Kaleidoscope. This glaze is a pale gray with many colors in it. It looks beautiful up close; from far away (when you can't see the colors), it looks more like a light tan.

6. Royal fantasy. Purple with other shades of purple scattered throughout. It's a pretty deep purple, kind of mauve.

7. Bloomin' Blue. This color is green with small blue spots throughout. It's a nice glaze, especially up close.

8. Masquerade. This color is very popular with the students. It's a pure black with yellow and red crystals throughout.

9. Strawberry Sundae. A redish-pinkish hue, speckled throughout.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

2nd Grade Paper Weaving Inspired by Jackson Pollock

I have done some form of Jackson Pollock's action painting every year since I started teaching. Usually, it's a one-day lesson, and the students love it, but there's no more to it than just splattering the paint! I saw this lesson on another blog, and decided to try it with my 2nd graders! The lesson is for 4th grade, so of course I had to be extremely organized to keep the action painting under control with 2nd grade.

The students had very recently learned about warm and cool colors, so I had them make one warm color action painting, and one cool color action painting. The warm color paper was smaller, 9"x12", whereas the cool color paper was a 12"x12" square. I set up 6 stations: red, yellow, orange, green, blue, and purple. Each color was a cup of watered-down tempera with a large brush, set on top of a spread out sheet of newspaper. The students stood in line for each color, action painted just a little bit (I was very firm with only a little bit of each color), and then switched to another line. They used only warm colors on the warm colored paper, and only cool colors on the cool colored paper.

The following week, we began weaving. First, the students folded their large paper in half with the action painting on the inside. Then, they drew a line with a ruler on the open edge (as opposed to the folded edge), by lining the ruler up with the edge of the page, and drawing along the other side of it. Next, we pretended our scissors were a car, and the line was a stop sign! Cut, cut, cut....stop! They could not cut past the stop line.

On the back of the warm colored paper, the students drew lines with the ruler, about an inch apart. I checked to make sure the lines were drawn the "tall" way, instead of across the paper. Then, the students cut their strips, and the weaving began! Here are some results:

Thursday, April 3, 2014

6th Grade Insect Drawings

Purdue University's entomology department puts on a festival called Bug Bowl every spring. One of the events is a student art contest. This year, I assigned my 6th grade students an insect drawing, and they are all entering the contest. All of their artwork will be on display at Bug Bowl during the weekend of April 12-13! Here are some of their drawings:

Monday, March 31, 2014

5th Grade Clay Picture Frames

Last year, my 5th grade students created picture frames from clay. I had some great results, so I did the lesson again this year, but with a few minor adjustments. First, I printed the students' photos from Harmony and laminated them, rather than asking students to bring in their school photo. So many students forgot, or didn't order school photos, that I had to do that with many students last year, anyway! Then, since all the photos came from me, they were the same size. I made paper templates to cut the frame from a slab, which was much easier than having the students create their own template (I'm always surprised at how hard it is for students to use a ruler!)

Here are a few examples of student work:

Here is the back of a frame. After using masking tape to place the photo in the frame, I hot-glued a rectangle of cardboard (from a cereal box) to the back. The stand is a folded triangle of the same cardboard, which I also attached with my glue gun, holding it still while squirting glue on both sides.