This first guest post is from Anna Davis of Ana&Mei.
Anna is a toymaker who specializes in beautiful handmade natural wooden toys with a pared-down harmonious color palette. She was also a Montessori homeschool mom (which you can immediately tell by looking at her clean aesthetic).
We are very fortunate to have Ms. Anna as our Art teacher and she spends two full mornings a week with students in the Elementary class! She writes:
Hello Little Bluestem Families and Friends. My name is Anna Davis and I am the Art/Specials teacher/helper for Ms. Renee. Last year was my first year working with the students of Little Bluestem and it was very easy for me to fall in love with both teaching and getting to know each of their individual personalities.
When Renee invited me back again this year, I was elated. I spent the summer writing lesson plans and dreaming of the endless possible projects the kids would enjoy. We are very fortunate to have an excellent range of good quality art supplies in our classroom. Additionally, I have an open classroom, meaning that we are able to create and learn anything of interest to the students.
Having new students in the class this year meant we started off the year with the basics of color and color blending. We then moved on to skill, incorporating mathematical polygons into the student’s work. We are now working on patterning, which will eventually lead into learning new skills and techniques when we join Ms. Renee’s Indigenous Hawaiian Unit. For that unit study, we will learn batiking and make cloth squares from traditional Hawaiian graphics used for sarongs, carving and tattooing. If any parent has an electric table top skillet that they are willing to lend to us for this unit, please let either myself or Renee know. We need at least a 12x12 electric skillet for melting wax in jars.
Now that Fall is finally upon us, we are currently working on those projects that allow us to make use of having our classroom door open. We love when the door is open and we can enjoy the indoor/outdoor classroom. And it’s absolutely wonderful to watch the Fall leaves turn color and drift down to cover the ground with brilliant hues and colors.
Over the next few weeks we will be making abstract ink tiles, incorporating both art and science. This is a simple project using non-toxic ink, rubbing alcohol and a firing process. This is easily a project you can do with your children at home as well. I have emphasized to the children that this is a project that needs adult supervision and permission since it does use fire. However, this is a very safe project for kids of their age group under adult supervision.
Here are the materials you will need to conduct this project at home:
- Disposable 12 x 12, or larger, aluminum baking pan
(2 for $1 at Dollar Tree)
- Sharpie Colored Markers
(Do not use blacks or grays)
- Isopropyl Rubbing Alcohol 91%
(The percentage does matter, Wal-mart or Walgreens)
- Eye Dropper or paintbrush
- White gloss glazed Ceramic Tiles
(Lowes has 6x6 tiles in the bathroom tile department for $.15 a tile, they also currently have 2x2 tiles on clearance for $3.15 a sheet of 24. You simply peel the tiles off the backing sheet)
- Acrylic Spray Sealer in Satin or High Gloss
(Krylon or Mod Podge, do not use brush on, are non-toxic although the spray fumes are toxic in non-ventilated areas)
- Cigarette or Grill lighter
- Paper towels
- Cork contact paper, felt or magnets
(Lowes for contact paper, Hobby Lobby for felt, 2 for $1, I use rare earth magnets)
- Clean off tile with water and dry with paper towel.
- Color the tiles any way you want with Sharpie Markers. Use simple designs as the designs will blend together in the next step.
- Place tiles in the aluminum container.
- Use the eye dropper filled with rubbing alcohol or a paint brush dipped in alcohol, and make droplets of alcohol all over the tile. You do not have to cover the entire tile, the more drops use you use, the more blending of colors.
- Next light the tile with the lighter. Be cautious not to bend directly over the tile when lit. The fire will burn off the alcohol and leave beautiful patterns on your tile.
- If you are happy with the way your tile looks, skip this next step. Now put more drops of rubbing alcohol on your tile, this time you less drops. Take your paper towel and dab the pools of color from the tile, lightly. Little dabs produce tiny drops of color into the overall patterns.
- Lay your tiles on a piece of cardboard or newspaper and spray them with the acrylic sealer. Be careful not to smudge the colors on the front when laying the tiles down to be sealed.
- I use squares of cork contact paper and stick them on the back of the tiles or glue squares of felt to the backs to use them as coasters or paper weights. I stick magnets on the back of the smaller tiles to use as refrigerator magnets or I use cork or the felt on the back of the smaller tiles to make sensory tiles for younger children.
This is a fun project and takes only 5-10 minutes from start to finish. I make 12 little tiles at a time when firing. I lay 12 tiles in the aluminum pan and fire all at once. If you do not like a tile you created, you can simply start over by cleaning the tile off with a paper towel and rubbing alcohol until completely white again. These make great inexpensive gifts for the holidays. You can get creative with tile shapes. The tiles must be glazed with a gloss finish before you begin. You can buy tiles at Lowes, Home Depot or Menards, individually or by the box. I prefer white but you could experiment with any color tile you’d like. I prefer gloss sealer as it allows the colors to really pop but satin is nice as well and still allows the colors to shine. I have also used enamel sealer, although much harder to find sometimes in non-toxic. Spray sealers do contain harmful fumes when initially sprayed but are non-toxic once they dry.
“Children learn as they play. Most importantly, in play children learn how to learn."
-O. Fred Donaldson