Saturday, July 16, 2011

Memory Pillow and Artist Talk

I visited my son's first grade classroom a few weeks ago and gave a talk about being an artist. It was so much fun talking with the children about ways to make art as well as the different careers an artist can have. We then did a project where the children made memory pillows. It was a wonderful way for them to remember the school year and all of the friends they made this year!

The Memory Pillow--what a masterpiece!

What is an Artist?

In preparation for this project I looked in the dictionary to see what being an artist meant. It said that an artist is someone who creates art. Well, that didn't seem like a very good explanation!

We discussed different kinds of art/ways of making art and we came up with this list:

Fabric Arts (like knitting embroidery, quilting)
Computer Arts (like web design)
Cartooning/Animation (like cartoons on TV & movies as well as in newspapers and in books)

(I'm sure this list isn't complete! I also added that people can be artists if they create music, dance, perform in the theater and write).

Many works of art like paintings and drawings are found in museums and in galleries, but art is all around us every day. We discussed different art careers that are out there such as:

Architect: If you like to draw houses and create buildings with Legos then maybe you could be an architect!

Illustrator/Cartoonist: I told the children they were already illustrators since they all published books for the school's writing festival! If you like to draw pictures to go along with stories you could be an illustrator!

Sculptor/Potter: Do you like to work in clay? Do you like to make sculptures or bowls and cups? Maybe this job is for you!

Graphic Designer: Do you like to make books with words and pictures? Do you like to look at cool websites? Those are made by graphic designers!

Actor/Actress/Dancer: If you love to perform and put on shows--this is for you!

Art Teacher: If you love to talk about art and share different projects with children, then this job is for you! This is what I do and I love it! :-)

Memory Pillow:

This is a wonderful project for a teacher gift, a class project, a birthday party and more! After our talk we worked on this craft.

Supplies Needed:

1 square of white 100% cotton fabric (ours was about 12 x 12")
1 square of printed fabric for backing that is the same size as the front piece (ours was 12 x 12")
Gold acrylic paint
1 4"x 8" piece of craft foam
Paper plate for palette
Newspapers or other work surface covering
Fabric markers (I use Crayola brand)
Sewing machine
Needle and matching thread
Pillow stuffing


1. Wash the fabric to remove sizing, dry and cut to size.

2. Cover your work area with newspaper. Cut a frame shape from the foam. Put some gold paint onto the palette and, using a brush, apply a thick coat of paint to the foam. Stamp the foam shape onto the center of the white square. Let dry.
Choose a metallic gold paint for a little sparkle. The children asked,  "Is this REAL gold?"

3. Trace around the edge of the gold frame with a black fabric marker, if desired, to make the frame's edges a little more crisp and interesting. You don't have to be neat about it--it looks more interesting if the edges are off a bit (I completed up to this part at home so all the children had to do was draw with markers).

4. Using fabric markers, draw a picture inside the frame. If you are doing this with a group, you may want to have the artist sign inside the frame as well.
A dragon being stopped by a super hero

A horse and rider in a woodland scene. Love those woodland critters!

5. Now's the time to have everyone sign each other's pillows. Do not sign inside someone's frame or on their picture. Leave about 1/2" border all around the edge of the white square for a seam allowance.

6. Once the marker work is done, pin the white square to the backing material with the right sides facing each other. Sew around the pillow, leaving a 3-4" opening on one side.
Older children can use the sewing machine with adult supervision, to sew their pillows on their own. My 9-year-old was able to sew his pillow.

7. When done, turn the pillow right side out and gently stuff with pillow stuffing.

8. Pin the opening of the pillow closed, thread a needle with matching thread and sew the opening closed.

Ta-da! A masterpiece (and a memory) has been created! Enjoy!!

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