Sunday, June 22, 2014

First day of school? In June?

My teaching year is done, but tomorrow... Oh tomorrow! I am taking a jewelry class, and I'm so excited! I admit, I hoped for rain this weekend. I wanted to clean up my studio, lay out my tools, go through my findings and sketches... I feel like the kid who is gathering their supplies and packing her backpack for back-to-school.

It's a good time of life to be able to choose the class I'm taking; have some experience, skill, and supplies to set my goals for what I want to learn, practice, and accomplish in the class; and to be in a field I passionately love. 

I can't expect my students to come to art class with all those things, but they can bring some. Luckily, most of them "choose" to be there, and many love art too. I hope my students are all as excited for summer as I am for my summer class, and in the fall I hope they feel the same excitement I feel today. 

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Trying to peep my sanity...

Sometimes I look at my work and wonder, "is there something very, very wrong with me?" Then a little glass peep peeks out at me as it's breaking out of its plaster shell. Do I see a teeny smile in its beak? And I know that... Oh gosh... I'm talking to glass peeps... yes, there is indeed something very wrong with me!

Come get your fresh glass peeps next weekend at City Folk Handwork!

The shy glass peep emerges from its plaster shell into the sunlit field of flowers.
Did it just wink at me? 

Friday, March 21, 2014

Fused Glass Pendants

The dilemma: I've been making fused glass pendant necklaces for years, but they sell so fast I rarely get a chance to photograph them. And they're each unique, truly one of a kind. What catches a person's eye when they see the one they want! The background color? The design? Some abstract imagery they find? Probably a combination of all these. Here are a few that are currently available. And I promise to add more as they come out of the kiln. 

This "strata" design was made with a pattern bars technique

Multimedia necklace - somehow the overalls hardware seemed to go with this pendant, and then of course the necklace needed to be denim. There are several button holes so that it can be worn at different lengths. 

NOT Fused Glass! My twisted, crochet silver wire necklaces  are available in many colors, and can be custom made with the gems or beads of your choice. This one is dark brown jasper. They look like they'd be itchy and uncomfortable, but surprisingly they are not at all so. This style definitely lays better in a short collar- or choker-style length. 

Friday, March 14, 2014

New Glass Work

Now that I have your attention… yes it's that time of year again. Easter's coming, and those peeps are so cute. You can't deny it. But the taste? Yeccccccch! Glass peeps have all the adorableness of a peep, without having to eat it!

For my Fashion-Forward Friends…
Glass Belt Buckles
 The coolest thing about these colorful beauties is that they're interchangeable. You can wear a different color, different style each day but use the same leather belt strap.
 Millefiore was a popular item in the fall, so I made plenty more in time for spring.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Podcasts - Academic Aesthetic

TheArtGuy's Academic Aesthetic podcast could hardly be more in my wheelhouse. This K-6 art teacher covers a wide variety of topics related to art, art education, and technology. The episodes are short - 7-15 minutes - practical, and interesting for a fellow elementary school art teacher.

The episodes I listened to seemed to mostly be based on his personal opinion and interests. His opinions are agreeable to me, and he seems well-informed in his subject area, so I enjoyed listening to it.

Unfortunately, I could not access the podcast through his iTunes link, only via his website. so navigating an episode to rewind, etc. was not easy. I could click on a subject from the episode and see the transcript for it, but could not figure out how to scroll through that text. He mentioned his tumbler account, but the links only opens a dialog box to make suggestions. I for one have become too lazy to do much more than click on a link when I'm ON the internet. If I really want to access or contact someone, I will copy and paste the information, but if the link is there, glowing at me, I might click it out of curiosity.

I hope if this ArtGuy is serious about his web presence he will add some key links that will help navigate and find relevant information. No new podcasts have been dropped since the fall, so maybe it was a passing phase, but he seems to be excited about what he does, and filled with many good ideas to share.

Podcasts - Energize Students is an education website with resources and information for teachers, parents, and students. Their podcast was hosted by Dr. Jane Bluestein, who brought various professionals on as guests. They covered a wide range of topics, from parent involvement, to bullying, to homework, to autism.

The knowledgeable host is well prepared, and seems to have chosen her guests carefully. They offer anecdotes and practical advice within the half-hour time period. Unfortunately they have not put a new episode up in about 9 months. There is no mention of whether they have permanently discontinued the podcast, although their blog and website are both current.

Technology in the Art Classroom

Technology is just a tool, we all say. But the reality is that we have to keep up with the things that grab our students' attention. At this point it's rare to find an elementary school student who can't navigate a tablet, so I love ideas that utilize my classroom iPad.

I recently installed a QR reader on my iPad, using a free app by My 5th graders are weaving, and for years I've handed my students a packet full of stitch instructions, and for years they have promptly ignored these papers. I generated and printed a QR code for the website that has these same stitches. Once I showed my students the app and how to use it they were hooked.

Looking ahead, I'd like to print QR codes to hang near artwork that's on display. A visitor in the school, assuming they have a QR reader on their device, could scan the code to learn more about the project, the artist, or the inspiration behind it. The possibilities are endless as to what we could connect.

I've also created a Pinterest board specifically for projects, activities, and other ideas that interested kids and motivated parents can do at home. There are so many things I'd love to do with my students that are too costly, time intensive, or advanced for many. But they'd be perfect for a motivated student to do with a supportive parent at home. It's been harder to spread the word to my school community about this though, as most parents don't follow my other Pinterest boards. But if I give them a QR code, they can find my board instantly.

Cool Art with the Kids - Mrs. Maurer's Pinterest Board
I think it would be a lot of fun to set up a scavenger hunt using this app. QR codes that go to plain text could give a clue about where to find the next QR code. We could even generate and print QR codes that would become part of students' artwork. When you scan the code you get an embedded message!

We are in the midst of a Flat Stanley-style project with our 2nd graders. They have mailed their "Flats" off to various people throughout the world, and are waiting for them to return from their adventures. Parents could easily help their students generate and print a QR code related to their Flat's destination. Or we might be able to use QR codes with they display their final project, to show where all our students travelled to.

It's exciting to realize the various possibilities with this simple app. With so many people carrying smart phones, it just got a lot easier to direct them to precisely what we want them to see.