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Alphabet design (was, High School Teachers-need ideas)


From: Maggie White (mwhiteaz_at_TeacherArtExchange)
Date: Tue May 06 2003 - 14:27:33 PDT

Okay, since several of you asked about this:

First of all, I have no digital pix of the work. You'll just have to
take my word for it that they come out great. I got this idea from an
NAEA presentation by Deborah Shelley Chernoff several years ago and
developed the lesson from that. It's been the culminating assignment
for my drawing class several times, as they're using everything they've
learned during the semester. The students will have had some
experience working with pen and ink at this time--creating a range of
values using various techniques (hatching, cross-hatching, stippling,

On the board I start a web with themes like People, Sports, Food, Music,
Animals, Hobbies. The students then brainstorm subcategories for each
one. For example, they can name specific sports. Under those
subcategories there may be subsubcategories, such as equipment used for
each specific sport. So the web might look like:
Sports---baseball---ball, bat, glove, catcher's mitt, plate, batting

Then I tell them they will design an eccentric alphabet (or maybe the
letters of their names if time is limited) using a theme that fits their
interests. The letters will be formed using the objects of the theme;
how much they narrow it down is up to them.

The final product is done on illustration board (which makes it really
special). The letters must be 3-4" tall, must be inked, and may be
colored with ink, markers, and/or colored pencils. If they don't want
to use color the letters must be textured and shaded with appropropriate
techniques. I expect an extremely high degree of craftsmanship on their
final product. Some especially memorable themes have been: fishing
lures; fashion models (by a boy who wanted to study fashion design; the
models' long scarves and flowing dresses very cleverly created letters;
soccer players--some interesting postures to create the letters; clouds;

Hope this helps.