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Lesson Plans

Re: cement planter/bench

[ Thread ][ Subject ][ Author ][ Date ]
Linda Kelty (lckelty)
Sun, 1 Aug 1999 09:46:32 -0400

Heather, I'm inserting my responses with a ** in front of them. Hope that
clarifies the process. Linda

>I really like this idea. Did you preplan a design, or just have the
>picture" in your head?
**We started with a general plan with the understanding that the mural would
evolve with each students input. I meet with two classes of 8th grade for a
6 week term. There are 6 terms in a school year. That's a total of 12
classes 18 to 22 students. I couldn't see a way to do a continuous clay
mural with these classes with any continuity using rectangular formats
because of shrinkage, etc. and didn't want to just slap up a bunch of
different pieces per student unless there were an underlying theme. Then I
made a trip to Philadelphia last summer and saw the exterior murals of
Isaiah Zagar. He uses pottery fragments, designed tiles and mirrors along
with colored grout. His murals fascinated me because the appearance was
unique and changed with the position of the sun. I brought photos of his
work back to my students and the first term decided on the theme "Respect
World Diversity" We started the mural with an earth representation
surrounded by the words with individual letters designed by the students.
These were underglazed with a clear glaze over them in a lowfire white clay
body. Because the underglaze pallette was limited the pieces were naturally
balanced through repetition throughout the design. The following terms
created figurative pieces in relief tile sculptures with irregular edges. I
told the students to imagine being vision impaired. Could they "see" the
piece with their sense of touch? This inspired them to make the surfaces 3
dimensional and textured. They also worked harder at their craftsmanship so
that no one would receive a cut or scratch when touching their mural. We
have a severe and profound class in our building with students who interact
through touch and the students feel very protective of them and were
gratified to think of doing something that would bring them so much to be
interested in. The tiles are arranged according to the level in the mural.
The top holds sky/air creatures, the middle depicts land animals and people
in traditional costumes of different cultures and races, the water level is
represented with fresh and salt water animals. Shells, crockery fragments,
stamped tiles by our special needs students, polished stones, melted marbles
and mirror pieces fill in the spaces between the pieces. That is in the
process of being grouted around at this time. I started that with the kids,
but they are too careless with that so it's falling to me to finish.
What's new, right?

When the kids made the tiles, did you give directions to
>keep them consistent in any way? I guess i'm worried about unity. Did they
>glaze the tiles? sorry to hit you with so many questions, but the more i
>about this, the more I like it... A bench that celebrates diversity and

****I think I answered these questions above.
>It is a nice fit, because the main users of the
area are our peer mediators
>when they are working with kids.

***I've done several murals now and find that kids do best if you present
them with themes and they vote their choice. This invests them in the
process, they make a real commitment, internal rather than imposed, and
their work is respected by their peers. Murals made in this way are not
vandalized or tagged. That in itself is a benefit, but the kids who come
back to see their work are still proud, even years later. Their work in
this way says "I was here and I mattered". I think that's extremely
important and it has a trickle down affect to the students who follow them.
I reserve murals for 8th grade and do not let underclassmen do it to
preserve the honor and sense of tradition.
They respect this.

>By the way, I should some time this month to do some research on the value
>art ed, my masters classes don't start again until February.

***Great!! I'm having some trouble with that myself. I not only have the
school mural to finish, but a community mural to coordinate and line up
completion, we're moving, closing is the 17th, school starts for us on the
18th, my brother and entourage are going to be here to visit and help us
move from the 10 to the 17th (guilt...their vacation and I make them work!
They did volunteer though.) I still have grad classes to Dec., chapter 4 to
complete and a presentation to work on. My husband says my major flaw is
the inability to say NO and mean it. I always see other peoples side of
things and try to fit in what I think has value. Gotta find a way to say on the hand to remind me perhaps? <G>. If you, or anyone else
that's interested get started, that would be great. My to do list is alot
of why I said this could be a 5 year project! It doesn't have to be
immediate, but would be very valuable to all of us. My friend sent me a
copy of her paper to edit and I'm not done yet, but perhaps she wouldn't
mind if I forwarded it to those who are interested. Take care. I'll
probably be offline the 14th to the 17th. Linda K.
>Linda Kelty wrote:
>> Heather, This last year I had my 8th grade students create clay relief
>> of irregular shapes for a diversity mural. We incorporated mirror
>> marbles melted in the kiln directly on the kiln wash, shells, polished
>> stones and crockery fragments. You could have the custodian leave the
>> concrete a little lower, probably 1/2", then use exterior grade grout to
>> the pieces into. You can color the grout with latex or acrylic paint
>> if you want to do an abstract design using colors, maybe a "Starry Night"
>> version based on Van Gogh's style? If you go to a building supply place,
>> the grout comes powdered in a bag and needs the acrylic liquid to mix
>> it. Works easily on a horizontal surface, harder on the vertical. Keep
>> water on hand for rinsing yucky fingers and tools. I use rubber
>> I also use zip lock bags, mix the grout and liquid in the bag, snip off
>> corner, and apply it like cake frosting. Man, do I get good use out of
>> locks!! 1000 uses for... Linda K.
>> -----Original Message-----
>> From: Heather Leal <rayleal>
>> To: art <>
>> Date: Saturday, July 31, 1999 5:05 PM
>> Subject: cement planter/bench
>> >Hi-
>> >I need some ideas. My principal has asked me to complete a project for
>> >the school, (what's new, right?) It is a middle school in Orange
>> >County, CA. The school is an enclosed building built in the 1970's. It
>> >has kind of an open feel to the architecture, typical of the 70's. The
>> >project involves a large brick planter that is indoors, approx 15 feet
>> >long, and 3 ft. wide. It is like 3 sides of a rectangle, with the 2
>> >short sides about 4 ft long . It is made of a rough concrete that
>> >matches the columns and outside walls of the school. After 30 years of
>> >unsuccessfully trying to keep plants alive, we have given up. The dirt
>> >has been taken out and the custodian is going to fill it with cement. It
>> >is in an area behind a large staircase and is frames a small area used
>> >for small group activities, and serves as a bench. They want me to have
>> >students do "something" in the cement. The custodian thought of it, but
>> >his idea was just to draw in the wet cement. The principal and I would
>> >like to do something more interesting. That is where I need help... I
>> >have thought of having the kids paint tiles, make tiles (I only have a
>> >small electric kiln though, and having a "ceramic plate donation drive",
>> >breaking them and laying a mosaic. What are your ideas and thoughts, and
>> >if you have done something like this, your successes and problems?
>> >Heather
>> >
>> >