CBMS Choice-Based Art Studio

CBMS Choice-Based Art Studio
CBMS Choice-Based Art Studio

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Fiber Arts Explosion

5th Grader "J" has been waiting to get his hands on this project from the first day of class: "Altered Stuffies: Soft-sculptures made from old friends"

 Lots happening right now in the Fiber Art Center of our studio-classroom!

 "A" (grade 7)  bought a quilt kit and brought it to class work on - she is tacking down the binding today
 In our studio, fiber artist sew, weave, design fashion, needle-felt and  quilt. We sometimes heat up beeswax and set up the dye for  batik creations (coming around again soon).

Needle-felted butterfly design is felted onto a background (also felt) for a pillow design - by "S," grade 7
 The applique project below depicts a set of symbols (cut from various fabrics) that carry meaning for this 7th grade artist. She is choosing the colors carefully to support the meaning and add to the overall design.

 Our donated dress form is getting more attention these days

It turns out that some middle school students have never practiced threading a needle or tying a knot at the end of a piece of  thread, while others use a sewing machines at home or learn to hand-sew from grandparents. Some students dabble (demonstrating the studio habit: "Stretch & Explore") while others settle in for what is often a long-term project ("Engage & Persist). Both are valid artistic behaviors.


A few students are inspired to try "draping" fabric to create fashion designs, as seen on the popular show "Project Runway," and find they have all they need to give that a try here in the studio (above photos showing yesterday's beginnings; selecting fabrics and incubating ideas,  and today's progress; more purposeful crafting)

I'm happy to observe the interest students have in this area and glad that I expanded the space for the Fiber Arts Center to occupy in the studio so that we can accommodate practice and inquiry here.
Tomorrow: Wool sorting! (Can you smell the lanolin from there?)

Saturday, April 5, 2014


It somehow always surprises me how many middle school students delight in making hand prints. Many absolutely revel in getting paint on their hands and making it a print.
It appears, from my vantage point, that middle school artists are as pleased with themselves as much younger children making this discovery for the first time. Could it be that these older kids never got to try this? Or is it that they never got to do it "over and over" until they were "done." I'm pretty much "done" with making my own hand prints - when did I "finish" I wonder?

This quite large collection of hand prints (above) was made on the day I "opened" the printmaking center for a 7th grade class this trimester. Most have been introduced to Styrofoam printmaking before, so my 5 minute demo was mostly a quick review. 

The students who created this collection of hand prints tired of printing from their drawn images, and moved on to this, which captured their attention for two more classes (or until I put the printmaking center away temporarily, to make things easier on the sub when I was away).
How many days would this activity have held their interest? 

When I unloaded the drying rack, upon my return from a 2-day absence, I pondered these questions, while also turning the expression "caught red-handed" over in my head. The students who made these prints ("the right hand is 'S,' the left hand is 'R,'" they told me) have been in a little hot water recently - getting caught "red-handed" on more than one occasion - is this art illustrating life? It has been observed that "all art is self-portrait"...

I posed the possibility of extending this idea to my classes in a little corner of the whiteboard reserved for possible "Art Challenges." A student made this suggestion one year ("you should give us challenges to do"). The challenge is optional, but can be used as a fall-back assignment if a student is at a loss for what to do. 

Will the boys who made these prints use them as an idea starter?