Saturday, December 31, 2011

Handmade Christmas Gifts Series II

August 11, 2011 my mother died two days after her 87th birthday. Her name was Elizabeth Pearl (Carroll) Howard. The era of her younger life was spent when being a "housewife/homemaker" was an honored profession although not thought of as a job. It was the expected duty of wife and mother. I never heard her complain of that. She kept a neat home; provided regular home cooked meals; always made sure my sister and I was clean and dressed as nice as we could afford; but most of all- taught us the good values of living a good life with our main "social" connections made in the Church.

When my sister and I cleaned out Mama's apartment, I kept the tablecloths. I think my sister kept the aprons. I cut up the three tablecloths to make keepsake gifts for our three daughters and three oldest granddaughters for Christmas.

I used 3-ring notebooks and made covers from Mama's tablecloths. Each contain recipes collected over the years from our family and Church friends.

The buttons came off of one of Mama's dresses.

I made a pocket inside each cover for collecting recipes.

This is Mama's pound cake recipe. I made notes like this on some of the recipes to add history to the memories collected here.

I used another of the tablecloths along with some other fabric to make six aprons also.

Each of the pockets came from her table cloth.

Each apron was different. It was like putting a puzzle together to get the fabric to work out.

In each apron, I added a little book of wisdom for everyday life.

Since we were all very connected to the lady who left behind the memories connected to these gifts, the opening of these presents was a somber time to absorb. I think my girls and their girls were very appreciative and grateful to the life their grandmother led. I think they are happy I took the time to turn a few pieces of fabric which carried precious memories into two useful keepsakes for each.

I am happy to hand down something to try to preserve a part of my legacy of times when women were willing to work with their hands to provide for their families. I know most women do that now in a much different way, and it is still good. It is a very different time though. It is good to remember.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Handmade Christmas Gifts Series I

Every Christmas I try to make some of the gifts for our family. This time, I made use of five little wooden boxes that look like books. I found them at the Goodwill store for three dollars each. The inside was a nice velvet-like surface covering both front and back.The outside was complete with hinges and a clasp but only finished with a coat of paint, and a little scuffed.  Since I love the craft of book arts, I decided to make book art "art boxes" for the five youngest grandchildren.

I began by painting the sides an iridescent color to resemble the classic book collections.

The top was slightly recessed so I planned to use this to personalize each to fit the owner.

So each began to take a personality with special handmade papers, and a variety of lettering options.

The split screen details below show how I filled each box with goodies for the children (ages 4 to 9) to make their own little books. I included a handmade book with blank pages for them to fill; and a tiny purchased book for inspiration to make miniature books; a set of colored pencils and sharpener; a #2 pencil; a set of colored and white papers already folded and punched with two holes and the waxed linen thread to bind them with; and three little packets. One of these contained small envelopes I made from recycled magazine images. These could be used for pockets in their books. Tiny envelopes with cards were in another packet, and kitty stickers was in the third packet.

Region's box cover was finished with a thick coat of Ultra Thick Embossing Enamel (UTEE) which forms a glass-like appearance.

There was so much going on at our large family gathering I only got pictures of two of the grandchildren with their boxes.

Above is Jesse discovering the contents of her art box.
Below is Nadine. Both girls love doing art with Mommy and Grandmama.
Notice how Jesse has her hand lovingly on the box while about to open other gifts.
These pictures show me it was well worth all the thought and care I put into making these personalized gifts.

Below, I was happy to see the boxes were considered prized gifts by how they held them near even while enjoying the other gifts.

Notice how Nadine was playing with her DoDollie TM  (also a handmade gift from Grandmama) using the box as a "stage".

Jesse was appreciating the details of the contents of her book art- art box.

Every artist loves to feel validated- that their creations mean something.
I am a happy artist right now.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Needle Felting

Student of the home economics class were split up into three groups. One will work learn how to embroider; another will learn the basics of sewing on a machine; and my group is learning how to needle felt. As a double objective, each group is making a Christmas ornament for the contest.

Although there was a little more space to spread out in my small office; they liked to bunch up to work.

This ornament will fit both the Appalachian Culture objective and the Recycled Art focus. The bits of yarn used for tree garland is from a yarn sample book donated by a local store that closed a few years ago. The felt, beads, and background fabric are scraps.

After a loop is attached at the top, the background felt will be cut close to the needle felted tree. Then beads will be sewn on and a backing fabric added to finish it off neatly.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Loving Art with Math

The math-art class was yesterday and all went well. Thank goodness we have block-scheduling which gives us an hour and half and we finished in one class period. It’s always great when the timing works out. That is the hardest part of these collaborative lessons.

With examples from weeks of preparations, and the cart loaded with materials- including bags already filled with sets of magazine pages in groups according to color, patterns, or theme. This cuts down on prep time for students.

This lesson connects not only math and art, but also to our Appalachian Studies focus (quilting arts), and a Christmas Ornament-Making Contest on the theme of Appalachian culture or recycling.

First students find the image or text areas they wish to include and trace using a jar lid. I prefer these over the compass because it is easier to see the full image area and less likely to slip while making their circles. When you have to cut out 20, you don't want to redraw.

Here’s a look at my many scribblings of teaching the math in the lesson- including finding the equilateral triangle inside the circle. Dr. G. taught the formulas, I only work with the parts I understand. I do the art, he does the math.

Students find the equilateral triangle, make a template and use it to make the folds which will be flaps for gluing the parts together to make a sphere.

A string is added so these can be used as ornaments.

Success! Now students can use what they learned and create these from recycling Christmas cards and enter them into the contest. Not to mention the benefits of having a hands-on lesson in the connections between the arts and math.

Today. I am working in the studio. Collage!!!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Recycled Art

Hello friends,
I know you think I forgot all about my blog, but this lady has been very busy. A math teacher asked about thinking on an arts connection lesson. Being a multi-hat-wearing person on the job, my efforts have to have multiple purposes. I was launching a Christmas Ornament making contest, so why not link the two? The theme of the contest is Appalachian Culture and/or Recycling. These ornaments with a math connection is based on recycling.

Out of one magazine, I cut out enough circles for over 30 ornaments which take 20 circles each. That is over 600 circles- each having visual appeal and connections in groups of 20.

I used a jar ring to trace the circles so that I could frame out the visual portion I wished to have for each circle. Some having details I wanted to capture.

Other circles were grouped more in the color family or theme such as gardens, wood, flowers.

Some ornaments would include novelty, patterns, or whatever popped for me.

The process is simple. The time put into making these was layered into other areas of my normal day. All the tracing, cutting, grouping, and much of the assembling was done during the evenings and weekends during my rest time watching TV with hubby. The rest was during lunch at school (since I drink a diet shake and can sip while working with my hands). We have a 45 minute open lunch allowing students to take their meal to eat in the hall or in classrooms and sometimes in the garden. My office usually has at least six students eating and talking, so I can visit while working, and they love to see what I'm working on.

I taught two of the library assistants how to make these ornaments after they finished their morning duties. One of these boys is in the class I will be teaching this in. He will be an assistant.

The string for hanging was added before attaching the last part.

After all the ornaments were assembled I had my student art assistant help find the right beads or buttons to finish off the holiday look.

Some of these ornaments have homespun charm, while others have a sense of elegance.

Pattern and color play a large role in how well the small portions affect the overall design.

So how does all the matching, cutting, connecting, and designing connect with math?

These were built from an equilateral triangle fitting perfectly into the circle, leaving "tabs" for gluing. The basic principles of using triangles to build a geodesic dome have some interesting roots in an American story. Look up Buckminster Fuller to learn about his contributions to the fields of architecture, engineering, and design.

Although my contest theme connection is more about recycling, it also relates to the cultural art of quilt making- very necessary in the Appalachia as a functional art form.