Sunday, November 23, 2014

Make a quilt in an evening--A PAPER ORIGAMI quilt that is!

Once upon a time, I used to quilt. I wasn't super-great at it, but I loved it and had fun. I think it's the graphic designer in me seeing all of those neat little shapes in neat little rows just makes me happy! But now I have four kiddos and I'm going to grad school. As for quilting..."Ain't nobody got time for that!" But, my sister is a wonderful quilter and churns out quilts left and right. And her work is better than mine ever was or will be--she's into detail and hand-stitching and all other sorts of craziness :-) And she has a stash of fabric that is *to die for!!*

I thought my quilting days were done (or on hold for a good long time), but, stay with me on this...

My family and I also *LOVE* origami--I don't know what it is about folding a tiny piece of paper a few times and magically getting a little shirt, a ballon, a lantern, or a samurai hat, but we can't get enough! So, awhile back, I saw this neat origami piece that had a bunch of what I figured out were origami samurai hats/helmets arranged on a colored background that looked like--a QUILT! OK, now quilts are still one of my favorite things--so I pinned it and would look at it fondly whenever I saw it in amongst my 5000+ pins...

The last time I stumbled on my origami quilt pin, I thought, "Hey that would be great for my sister!" So, I bought a pack of origami paper from the craft store (about $12.00 for 200 sheets) and coerced my kiddos to help me make a bunch of samurai hats.

Samurai hats are easy to make and even my four-year-old could do them. She ended up making about 15 or so! They were a little "unique" but usable, nonetheless! Here's link to see how to make a samurai hat.

You'll need 32 hats for this arrangement. We made so many, we had enough to make two "quilts"--one for me and one for my sister! The hats are mounted on 18" x 24" piece of Canson pastel paper. You could use mat board, but this is what I had on hand and it is wonderful quality paper and comes in a bunch of colors (and it is easy to measure and cut at home).

This project would make a great class project either for a teacher or for a group auction piece. It's also great for anyone who loves quilts and quilting. It's unusual and a conversation starter! The project took us a night to make two completed "quilts." You could make smaller versions that would fit in a 12" x 12" frame (so three rows of 6 samurai hats) or you could work with the mini origami paper (it's about 3" square) to make cards for your friends.

I hope you try this project and have fun with it and origami! ENJOY!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Scenes from Jewelry-Making Artist's Workshop

Last Thursday I had the pleasure of hanging out and creating jewelry with a few lovely students at Amherst Middle School. We learned some basics of jewelry design and construction and students were able to go home with duct tape earrings, beaded earrings, a glass bead bracelet, and a shrink art necklace. While they were creating, they were learning how to use jewelry-making tools and jewelry findings.

While these pieces are easy to make, they form the foundation of basic jewelry-making skills students can use to make a number of fabulous pieces! Hopefully they are inspired to create some lovely pieces at home!

And here's the link to the tutorial we used as inspiration for our duct tape earrings--I'm now sporting a pair of rainbow tie-dyed feather earrings my son made me! :-) *LOVE*

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Love printmaking? Try these lessons!

I've rediscovered printmaking over the last month or so. I love printmaking because it is easy and can be done on the cheap. Well, sort of. The process is always so fun for the students and the results are magical--I love to watch them "ooh" and "aah" over their prints!

Well, here's a round-up of some past printmaking lessons from my site that may have you rocking and rolling with your students!

Matching Mittens with Found Object "Snow" Prints

Reduction Prints (Using Styrofoam trays and found objects)
Andy Warhol Self Portraits (Using Styrofoam trays and a pencil to "carve" an image)
Reduction Print Selfie (Using Styrofoam tray and gradually removing portions of it between inkings)

Haunted Houses (Using sticky-backed foam shapes)
Fall Banner (Using foam shapes to make stamps--can be changed for any theme or season)

Create Your Own Stamps (Using found objects and wine corks to make your own stamps)
Matching Mittens and Snowflakes (Cut paper mittens with found object "snow")
Focal Point Fruit Prints (Using an apple or pear to print--exploring focal point too).
Leaf Prints (This is mine, it's from Deep Space Sparkle, but it is my go-to early finisher activity in the fall).
Modern Day Adinkra Cloth (Using stamped symbols on sections of card stock that are joined together into one "cloth")
Spring Forsythia Still Life (Using pieces of sponge to make a lovely arrangement of forsythia blossoms)
Not-So-Scary Dancing Skeletons (Uses doggy bone treats for unique stamps)

Andy Warhol Hand Prints (Seriously one of my most popular posts, but not mine--from Artolazzi--so easy!).

And one of my all-time popular posts--
Quick Andy Warhol Hand Prints

Monday, November 10, 2014

African Cloth Speaks--Now at the Silver Center in Plymouth, NH

I had the pleasure of attending the opening for a lovely show located at the Silver Center in Plymouth, NH called "African Cloth Speaks." I have long admired the beautiful and symbolic ceremonial cloth the people of Africa weave, print, and/or embroider and this was the perfect show to see all types of cloth from many different countries from Africa.

A close-up of Kente cloth
(image courtesy of Plymouth State University).
About the Show:
"Throughout the continent of Africa, people use cloth to speak for them. Whether the fabric represents religious affiliation, age, class status, ethnic membership, or political association, what one wears is one’s identity. Woven or dyed, imported or locally produced, wrapped, tied, or tailored—all clothing speaks clearly in the many African languages. Demonstrating ancient traditions or contemporary fads, African peoples use cloth to celebrate the vibrancy of life’s rituals from birth to death. Co-curated by Philip Peek, professor emeritus of anthropology at Drew University, and Anthropology of Religion, Ritual, and Myth students." (From

I was so thrilled to see real examples of Adinkra cloth and  Kente cloth since I have taught those lessons to my students in the past. For a modern take on Adinkra cloth (a great lesson on printmaking and symbolism), click here: Modern Day Adinkra Cloth. 

Project Idea:
This would be a lovely lesson to have each student create a symbol that has meaning for them, create a square, and then link them together as a class (or you could do this for your family). Children could them write about the symbol they created and what it means to them. What a wonderful group project this would make!

This close-up shows how each printed square of Adinkra fabric
is linked together using paper clips (a modern twist), traditionally,
they'd be sewn together using bright embroidery thread. 

"African Cloth Speaks" runs from November 5th-December 12th, 2014 at the Silver Center For the Performing Arts at Plymouth State University in Plymouth, NH. For more info, visit:

Friday, November 7, 2014

After School Printmaking Workshop

Yesterday I had fun experimenting with printmaking techniques with some 9- to 12-year-olds. It always amazes me how much fun students have with printmaking. I love it too!

We only had an hour and a half, so we began by doing a reductive print by slowly destroying a foam plate using tools that are easy to find around the house and studio: plastic knives, popsicle sticks, skewers, pen caps, etc. Students were asked to make two types of marks on their plate, print it, return and make more marks on their same plate, print it AGAIN on top of the first print, and then repeat one more time. We could have spent the entire class doing this one project, since some students needed time to "see" how things would turn out. Overall, they were pretty impressed by the beautiful layers that were created in their pieces.

When they were done that, I showed them how to use a plexiglass plate and add shapes and letters using sticky-back foam to make a relief plate. The students really went crazy with this idea and some created three plates in a short period of time. Most created their names or initials but some created trees, hearts, dragons and more.

Supplies we used for the workshop:

  • Foam veggie trays (don't use meat trays)
  • Found tools (mentioned above and hole punches, decorative scissors, etc--pretty much anything that will marks foam in a neat way)
  • Speedball printmaking inks (water soluble in red, blue, yellow, white, gold)
  • Speedball soft rubber brayer (roller)
  • Sticky-backed craft foam
  • Plexiglass scraps (do not use shatter-resistant)
Have a great day!

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Fall Still-life With Glue and Pastels

Here are some pretty still-life creations my after school art class finished up this week. OK, I can use other, more "artsy" words like "dynamic" or "engaging" to describe these, but MAN, are they pretty, too! I've done this project before, and the students are always amazed at how the pieces come out (me too!). This group had students who are in first grade through fourth--so you can see it's pretty accessible to all with the right amount of scaffolding.

I made the mistake, this time, of using clear glue (gel and plain clear) since that's what other art teachers have said they used for this project with great success. I tried it because, in the past, I had found the regular  Elmer's glue can dry a bit cloudy. Anyway, I WAS NOT happy with the results. The clear glue soaked into the paper and ran off as the students were moving them to the drying space leaving drips and blops all offer the classroom and my car (a.k.a. the mobile art studio). It also soaked through the paper and glued the pieces to tables and the seats of my car...(big unhappy face for Mrs. Pettus) ;-)

So, if you do this project--which a HIGHLY suggest you try--use plain old Elmer's. It's fine for this project. So fun and magical (and "pretty")! Check out my previous post about this technique here.

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