|"Gift for my cousin" By "R" Grade 8|
The art studio at CBMS is set up with several “centers” to facilitate autonomy and organize materials. There is the painting center over by the sink, the clay center at the back of the room, one for sculpture collage, digital art, drawing, printmaking and fiber arts. Students choose which center to work in after my brief demonstration or discussion at the start of class. These centers are always there – permanent fixtures for students to rely upon and plan for.
Then there are the ephemeral centers, ones that come and go, like the papermaking center featured in the previous blog post, or the bookmaking center which will come next. Later this trimester I will set up a mosaic center and then an encaustic painting center. Maybe a lantern-making center for the Waterbury Lantern parade?
And then there are the mini-centers, which I think are my favorite.
Mini centers are usually portable and contained in one box – like our little “One-Sock Doll” mini-center. We use a donated divided wooden box to hold everything artists need to create a tiny soft-sculpture creature. The materials are simple, as are the instructions. Given a few parameters, valued skills are learned, practiced and improved. Students need to know how to thread a needle and tie a knot, stitch a seam and sew “right sides together.” Embroidery stitches are used to add a face and other details. It takes some patience, practice and a measure of imagination to transform a little sock into an original sculpture. There is a lot of learning packed into this mini-center!
Thanks to Ellyn Gaspardi for introducing me to this project at the National Art Education Association Convention some years ago.