Drawings · Making Books with children · Making books with elementary students

Re-Framing a Lesson

Bookmaking with First Graders
Bookmaking with First Graders

OMG Have I got a teaching tip for anyone who has ever pulled their hair out trying encourage students to make their drawings bigger, to fill up the page. It’s only taken me like 25 years of working with students to figure this out. This is big.

Filling up a page with a drawing
Filling up a page with a drawing

There’s this variations of a bookmaking project that I do with mostly first and second graders that includes a drawing. The bigger and bolder the drawing is, the better it looks in the book. Needless to say, it’s such a struggle for this age of student to make their drawings big enough.

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Usually I give the students the paper that their drawing goes on and do everything but beg them to draw bigger. Well, sometimes I beg. Then, yesterday  (Friday)  Carter, a 7 year-old in my first class of the day, suggested that, before they start their drawing, I  lay the paper inside the frame that will surround it. It had never occurred to me to do this, so I tried it out in my next class of the day.

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Unbelievable. In my next class, after sliding the paper behind the frame before the drawing began, every single student filled up the paper with large bold drawings to go along with their stories.

Never has this happened before.

Maybe it was just a fluke, maybe this class had been bribed enough times to fill up the page that they now did it instinctively. I had one more class to go.

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Next class, same thing happened. They filled up the space with big drawings.

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Some students lifted the frame away after the first part of the drawing was done so that they could make their drawings even bigger. OMG I was so happy. My conclusion: if you want students to make a drawing to fill up a space, FRAME THE SPACE with a dark frame! I don’t know why it works, but far be it from me to ever think I can fathom what goes on in the mind of a 7 year-old.

Now here’s the part that gives me chills…I have to ask myself, why did Carter put forth his suggestion? I give credit to this: recently I was impressed by reading Malke Rosenfeld’s book about engaging students in whole body learning. While I teach different subject matter than Malke, I am deeply impressed by how she gives her students permission to explore the learning space before she begins her lessons. I took this to heart, and this week, for the first time, within certain boundaries, I encouraged students to fold and unfold, then explore and examine the materials that we were using together. In some way I think this sense of engagement with the materials led Carter to making a suggestion that was based on what would have worked better for him. I already know that my best teaching tips come from the single digit crowd, I just don’t always know how to tap into them.

So thank you Malke, thank you Carter, and OMG I am so happy.

 

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Women’s Work

Just when I needed a to be uplifted, Judy Kinzel wrote this blog post. Judy and I don’t know each other, but the fact that she had felt encouraged and empowered to make such awesome work after going through my posts, well, it means so much to me. Be sure to visit her site and look through her Chinese Thread Book gallery. I’ve been thoroughly inspired by her work!

Purple Tree Studio

Throughout the history of art, decoration and domestic handicrafts have been regarded as women’s work, and as such, not considered “high” or fine art. Quilting, embroidery, needlework, china painting, and sewing—none of these have been deemed worthy artistic equivalents to the grand mediums of painting and sculpture. The age-old aesthetic hierarchy that privileges certain forms of art over others based on gender associations has historically devalued “women’s work” specifically because it was associated with the domestic and the “feminine.”  (Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art)

In the 1970’s I had the good fortune to see Judy Chicago’s installation The Dinner Party when it was in Boston. The thirty-nine place settings celebrated a variety of incredible women – writers, scientists, activists, artists – and reflected the history and geography of each woman with media associated with women’s crafts. (Click her for more on The Dinner Party)  It…

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Zhen Xian Bao

Woo Hoo! Asahi Bookcloth and Chiyogami!

 

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As I continue to make Chinese Thread Books, I’m finding that I am beginning to develop preferences. Already, I find that I like Chiyogami paper for  the first layer box, a delicate, subtle paper for the second layer box, Stardream Metallic for the pamphlet and hidden sleeve. Now, after trying out the silky Japanese Asahi bookcloth for the cover, well, I’m hooked.

Chinese Thread Book, Zhen Xian Bao,, by Paula Krieg

This mostly red Chirogami pattern is not something that generally would catch my eye to use and buy, but I just loved the details of the patterns in the spheres. The toughest part of using it was finding papers to go with it.

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So detailed and beautiful, but does not play well with others.

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After much searchinger around, here’s what worked for my eye: Gold Stardream for the pamphlet cover, embellished with Stardream Metallic Quartz and random Chiyogami circles. Second layer box is a soft paper embedded with flowers.

Chinese Thread Book, Zhen Xian Bao,, by Paula Krieg

Pinwheel Twist box inside the pamphlet

Chinese Thread Book, Zhen Xian Bao,, by Paula Krieg

Gold Dragonfly paper for the big box, to which I’ve added a few golden starbursts.

Chinese Thread Book, Zhen Xian Bao,, by Paula Krieg

All wrapped up in Asahi bookcloth.

Book Art · Box · Zhen Xian Bao

Indigo and Suede, with a Pinwheel Twist Box

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This continues my posts about assembling different structures based on the Chinese Thread Book, using different papers. I had thought I was going to be doing the same thing over and over again, with no variations other than using papers with different colors and patterns, but it hasn’t worked out that way.wp-1484682930002.jpg

Here’s where I started using the Stardream Metallic for the cover of the pamphlet on the left. More and more I’m liking how the Stardream paper matches the Chiyogami printed papers.  Notice the style of the little box inside of the pamphlet. After trying out many variations I absolutely loved this little twist box with the pinwheel top.

Pinwheel-top Twist box for Chinese Thread Book, PaulaKrieg
Pinwheel-top Twist box

I think it’s something about the pattern of the Chiyogami paper that made other style box I’ve been making look, well, not so good. Am so pleased to have stumbled upon this way of making the twist box.

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Here’s the pinwheel-top box, twisted open.

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The second layer rectangular tray is made from a soft handmade paper from India. Underneath the tray is a sleeve made of Stardream paper, which matches the pamphlet.

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Big box layer is another handmade paper, but not sure where it was made. I have a stash of this from a place that Elisa Campbell wrote about, Creative Papers, which, sadly, is no longer is business.

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The biggest surprise for me was the choice I ended making for the cover of this Thread Book. I tried matching the book with other Chirogami papers, with handmade papers from Dieu Donne and elsewhere. I tried my (faux!) elephant hide paper, and tried matching it with all sorts of cloth.  Then I tried it out with this piece of suede, and it just snapped together. I never thought I use this suede for anything, but it seemed perfect for this project.

I just love how I get to use all these odds and ends of materials!

What’s different, besides the suede, about this particular piece is that it doesn’t suggest a use to me. The first one of this group that I wrote about seems like a valentine waiting to happen, the one after that feels like a gardener’s journal, and the next one I will be writing about feels like a holiday journal. But this one isn’t telling me what it needs to be. Hope someone else can figure it out.