Friday, May 27, 2016

Art With Mrs. Dennis: String Art

In addition to music, I also teach visual art. In recent years, we have started a tradition that the 5th graders complete a collaborative art project to leave their mark on our school before they move on to middle school. You can view past art projects by clicking the images below.

2014-Rotational Symmetry

This year, I was inspired by string art. The design was also inspired by our state song--Steven Foster's "My Old Kentucky Home". Below are pictures of our final project.

The weathered cedar wood was donated by our counselor and came from a disassembled tree house. To connect the planks, I purchased 2 pieces of wood 3/8 in. thick, 1.5 in. wide, and 3 ft. long. I had the helpful Lowe's workers cut the 3ft. pieces in half at the store so I had 4 braces. To attach to braces to the planks, I used 1 1/4  in. wood screws. I purchased a pack of 100 screws from Lowe's for $5.58 but have plenty left over for future projects.

To hang the art, we used braided steel wire which cost $3.48 for 25 ft. We have plenty of wire left over for future projects! We twisted the wire  to form 2 loops on the ends. We placed each loop between the outer braces and the cedar planks. The top screw went through the loop. With the braces screwed tightly, the wire is very snug.

Linoleum nails were used for the string art. I purchased 4 boxes from Lowe's at $1.30 each. The linoleum nails have a brass finish and a small rounded nail head which give a nice aesthetic look for this project.  I have about half a box left over for a project.

I created the design for the art on the computer and project the image on my Activboard. I traced the design onto poster board and cut out the state and words. I taped the poster board to the cedar planks to keep it in place while hammering the nails on the outline. A helpful Lowe's employee suggested I purchase a child size Build-And-Grow hammer for this project ($2.98). I'm so thankful for the suggestion! It was the perfect size and weight! I used needle nose pliers to hold the nails in place and avoid smashed fingers.

The string we used for the project was embroidery floss. I had this embroidery floss in the art room already, but it can be purchased at any craft store for less than 50 cents for each skein. I used 8 skeins of floss for the state of Kentucky in 2 shades of blue and 2 shades of green. I used 2 shades of floss for each word and did not use the entire skein. The picture below shows the project mid-progress.

I have a separate art room, but this project was actually completed in the music room. I planned music centers for the students and I was stationed at one center assisting them with the project. I had prepared the project by hammering around the state of Kentucky. Each student got to hammer at least one nail around a word and wrap a string around at least 3 nails inside Kentucky. This took one 55 minute class period for each class. During an extra planning time, I pulled a few extra students who were absent and they assisted me with finishing the words.  I placed superglue on the knots where I tied the string to begin wrapping and end the wrapping.

I estimate that 4.5 hours total was spent mounting the planks, tracing the stencils, hammering the nails, wrapping the strings, and gluing the knots. Less than $20 was spent on additional supplies for this project. If you do not have access to donated wood, that will increase your cost for this project.

The completed art project was revealed at the 5th grade Send-Off ceremony and is now hanging in our front lobby. The students, parents, and teachers were amazed at the final project and many are interested in creating string art to hang in their own homes!

Thank you for allowing me to share a glimpse into my other world as an art teacher. If you are a music teacher and do not have a visual arts teacher at your school, please don't be afraid to tackle a collaborative art project!

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Field Day Improvisation

Today was Field Day and I forgot my whistle! I sent an email asking the staff to borrow an extra, but no one had one available. I was forced to improvise in order to save my voice.
I always despised this Basic Beat woodblock because it is ridiculously loud and ear piercing. It is terrible for indoors, but PERFECT for outdoors! I may start using it every year instead of a whistle.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Turning a Gym Into a Concert Hall: Part 2

My school does not have a stage, so all performances must take place in the gym. There's not much I can do about the acoustics, but I try my best to improve the aesthetics.  In a previous post, I shared pictures of our stage set-up for the Christmas concert. These pictures in this post are of the stage set-up from our Spring concert.

A couple years ago, PTO raised funds to purchase 12 Wenger Flip Forms. I am very thankful for their support of the arts! These are enough to provide a stage for my Orff instruments and risers for my Choir. At Christmas, I only used 3 sections for the Choir and 6 for the Orff Ensemble. I welcomed many new members to both groups in January, so in this picture you see 4 sections for the Choir and 8 sections for the Orff Ensemble.When the drama club performs, they use all the Flip Forms to form a larger stage. I have metal folding risers in storage if the choir is performing with the drama club for a musical.

Maintenance installed a tension wire across the back side of the gym. 

Our background is a black curtain comprised of 4 king size flat bed sheets sewn together. At the top of the sheets, there are button holes and we hang the curtain with index card rings.

To decorate the back drop at Christmas, I hung paper snowflakes and snowflake ornaments.

For the spring concert, I purchased 3-dimensional plastic music notes from a local novelty store. These can also be purchased online at a variety of stores with a range of $5-7 dollars per package. Each package contains one treble clef, 2 quarter notes, 2 eighth notes, and 2 pairs of sixteenth notes. I purchased 2 packages. The notes are black and I had a black background, so I spray painted them silver and then added some multicolored glitter to make them sparkle and shine.

I attached the notes to the backdrop with string and safety pins. This allowed the notes to remain in place if the gym teacher needed to slide the curtain out of the way.

If you also have to perform in a gym, I would love to see how you transform your space into a performance hall. You may follow this link to Facebook to add your pictures.