A fun project from Art Bar Blog‘s new book Art Workshop for Children
An unexpected reward of doing what I love has been the connections & friendships forged through social media with other art teachers, creative parents & art ed bloggers around the world. I treasure being part of a tight online network of kindred spirits who inspire, support, and celebrate each other! I’ve had the pleasure of meeting some in person (a “pinch me” moment was randomly finding myself standing in Meri Cherry’s infamous Southern California backyard art studio, looking up through the open roof at giant lemons about to drop on my head! While Ana from Babble Dabble Do was just chillin’, holding a melting ice pop for one of her kids. Not making that up, I wasn’t dreaming!! … or was I???) – but most of these friends I only know online and just fantasize about meeting in person one day! Like in, oh, maybe Sweden or someplace (oh hej! Willowday).
And THAT run on paragraph, my friends, is how I came to
know stalk Bar Rucci from Art Bar Blog. I can’t remember when I first started following her, but I recognized her immediately as a soul sis-tuh. While we both share a love of kraft paper covered tables and all things colorful and creative, there are at least two fundamental differences between us: Bar teaches art out of her home, in close proximity to an off-white couch, which would require borderline lethal doses of anti-anxiety meds in my world (not for me, for the people who have to deal with me). And Bar wrote a BOOK, while I seemingly whiled away the hours fishing beads out of our button jar. Don’t get me wrong, I’m proud of having returned every last stray bead to its proper storage place, and the fishbone diagram I created afterwards to identify the root cause of the cross-contamination was some of my best work. But Bar wrote a BOOK! A GOOD book. I am humbled.
Bar’s book is called Art Workshop for Children and it’s a visual art party for your senses! Just like scrolling the pages of Art Bar Blog!
If you’re like me and love holding a weighty, nice quality book in your hands, slowing taking in all the details of every photo and savoring every page, you’ll be in heaven! So imagine my delight when Bar asked us to participate in her book blog tour and road test a project or two! Um… <thinking… thinking….> OK! A quick scan of the studio revealed a small, chatty group of little people who like to get messy, and a pile of already semi-glittery leftover sticks, so the obvious choice was Project #18 – Wooden Bead Mobiles!
No stranger to mobiles, we pulled out our stash of trusty Twisteez wire so that we could – I won’t lie – not have to tie a bunch of strings for the kids! The wire is stiff and comes in fun colors- perfect for little fingers learning to lace, thread, twist & wrap. We also rounded up some wooden beads and wood discs that the students could paint with liquid watercolor and adorn with lines & shapes using one of our newest fave art supplies – Kwik Stix paint sticks (soft + creamy fast drying tempera paint sticks).
We also keep on hand some buckets of small pieces of mat board pieces cut into geometric shapes (thanks to a local frame shop that donates all of their “scraps” to us! … one man’s trash…), and some scrap felt and foam pieces, straws, and anything else we could find that we thought would look pretty and we could punch a hole in! We went to town, starting with painting the sticks!
As the sticks were drying, we drew lines & shapes on the wooden discs with the Kwik Stix and then painted those and the wooden beads with liquid watercolor. We then gave everyone a little selection of do-dads to string onto each of three or four wires. We talked about how to use the straw beads as spacers and encouraged them to be thoughtful in their placement – maybe make a pattern or arrange by color.
The benefits of this type of project are many: primarily, the kids LOVED it! They loved that the mobiles moved and they all associated them with babies and cribs (a happy subliminal memory for them)! They loved that they got to select colors and make choices about the rest of their materials to use. Their fine motor skills (and tolerance for painty fingers) were definitely put to the test as they patiently poked the wire through the tiny holes in all of their materials.
I wish Art Workshop for Children existed when I had the dream of starting small hands big art. It would have been such a huge source of inspiration on those days I found myself staring into space. Bar’s selection of materials and her process-oriented “creative invitations” provide a simple, no-fail roadmap for parents and caregivers who want to raise creative problem solvers and provide an enriching art experience at home, but don’t know where to start. I love that all the materials are very simple and inexpensive, often things found around the house vs. purchased at the craft store. Her passion for children and art shines through on every page, and the essays by her and Betsy McKenna (a Reggio inspired educator and long time family friend) are thought provoking and insightful.
I hope Bar is already hard at work on her next book! As for me, I think I see sequins haphazardly mixed up with the gemstones… seriously?!