Friday, September 26, 2014


Tonight one of my students made my night by having her birthday party at the studio.  She picked a chocolate theme for her slumber party that included a stop at Kudzu Studio along the way.

To draw, you guessed it, chocolate!

Hershey chocolate bars to be exact.  And each artist got to choose whether they created their artwork with wrapped chocolate bar or a bar with a bite out of it.  It is safe to say that by the time the girls finished their creations in pastel chalk there was not a chocolate bar to be found in the room.

Even those artist who decided to draw their bars in the wrapper.

Lots of giggling and lots of fun for a young girl who deserves nothing but lots of wonderful.

Happy Birthday Miss E!

the birthday girl

(Miss M, I'm very sorry that I did not get a good shot of your great work.)


You're invited! To the Culture Cram this Sunday, Lynn Valley Library, 1pm

This Sunday, Kudzu Studio will be participating in Culture Cram.  We will be at Lynn Valley library from 1-2pm.  Come by and try your hand at creating a relief print.  We will be creating our "dream city" and pull one print to take home and a second print that will be part of a collaborative community project to be left behind for the library to display.   Look forward to seeing you there!  It should be lots of fun!

9 year old

Thursday, September 18, 2014

I'd like a do-over

So quite possibly the last of the School Closure camps happened yesterday because (fingers crossed) the teachers will vote "yes" today on a tentative agreement to open schools early next week!

I don't know if it was the change in weather or if yesterday every.single.child stayed up too late the night before but we were a slow moving bunch in the studio.

I had four projects planned, with a fifth in my back pocket should I need it as there has been no problem completing four projects in a full day camp, but yesterday the group completed two full projects and kind of sorta a third with huge modifications on my part.

Which is why I'd like a do-over because although the clay bug hangings were a great success,

7 year old

11 year old

6 year old

10 year old

8 year old

10 year old

10 year old

8 year old

And the portraits of their moms, dogs, themselves and even a character made up from their imagination- all inspired in the style of Matisse's "Young Woman in a Blue Blouse" were lovely,

8 year old

6 year old
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7 year old

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11 year old
10 year old

the best received project of the day was the Exquisite Corpse books.  

Before class, I stapled together watercolor paper and then cut the inside pages into three.   The plan was to let the students do line drawings with fine point sharpies and then fill in color with the dye inks.

I have always ended camp weeks with a game of Exquisite Corpse.  It is always a favorite among the students and so I decided to build on that concept and make a full blown project out of it.  By the time I got around to introducing it, there was only an hour left in the day and the kids got so involved in their work, they worked right up until their parents arrived.

I know it is a good project when a child comes up to me and says, "I'm going to play with my book the entire way home".  They were so engaged and proud of their pieces, but many went home with the pencil sketches only completed and I changed out the dyes for colored pencils for those who got that far.

In fact, I only got pictures of one of the books completed because of the time crunch.

Definitely would like a do over and I would definitely have done this project at the beginning of the day in hindsight due to the students response.  They could pick any subject matter and the books included food, Princesses, characters from their favorite books or movies, animals, and even their own cartoon creations.  I just wish you could see them all!  Below is the finished book of a 10 year old.

Pretty awesome, right?  Great news is that with art camps and classes in my future, I know I will get the opportunity for that "do over" again soon and I absolutely plan to take it and complete this project with my originally planned concept.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Wet Felting Fun

I am currently the President of the North Shore Needle Arts Guild which has a large membership of very creative women working in all sorts of textile arts.  Our first meeting back after summer was last Thursday, but with a full class of students for the day due to the school strike, I was not able to attend.

That did not stop me from thinking of them and being there in spirit as I introduced wet felting to the students in the studio. Once finished I threw them in the dryer and let the students do a bit of thread work on them.

I know the guild membership would of loved it!  

First a couple of wall hangings completed by the students.  The heart was done by an eight year old for his mother and below is a trellis of roses by an eleven year old.

Several students chose to have their artwork mounted for framing.

11 year old

7 year old

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And finally two students wanted to make pillows.  I have never seen two children more thrilled with their creations, as they walked around hugging these pillows and cooing for the rest of the day.

7 year old

8 year old

Monday, September 15, 2014

silk painting project with children

If you ever want to quiet down the studio, introduce silk painting.  The students become so engaged in the project, they get completely lost in their concentration and focus on what the dyes are doing on their silk and you can hear a pin drop.

I absolutely love silk painting with children.  But I won't lie, I was horribly intimidated  by it the first time around and am very grateful for the support of another friend who is also an children's art instructor who shared her knowledge with me. 

Although I'm not there by your side, I hope to pay it forward by sharing how easy this is to do as a teacher so that you too might share it with your students.

Aren't the works lovely all hung together?  Even if it is done half-hazardly for the day until they go home?

I did these silks on embroidery hoops.  I am quite happy with the round it created for the final artwork and everyone can gather hoops easily.  I found mine for free on Craigslist.  I'm also lucky that I am a part of the very supportive North Shore Needle Arts Guild, where the women know I am thrilled to take any frames, odds and end threads, and any other unwanted stash to use in my studio.   I'm sure if you sourced a local guild in your area and let them know your needs, you might find yourself lucky enough to be on the receiving end of great materials for your projects.

First the students did some sketching and came up with a drawing that pleased them.  Once finished, I taped their sketch to the table and then taped a square of silk on top of the drawing.  They traced their drawing lightly onto the silk with a washable pencil, however a regular pencil will work but I must stress to you to have them draw very lightly or the pencil lines will show up on the final work.

Although pencil lines showing through the final work could be a nice design element...

Once the sketch is on the silk, it's time to put the silk into the hoop.  Make sure the silk is taut.  

11 year old

I have clear water based resist, but I think I will be buying some black resist once I run out.  I have two small applicators for the kids to apply the resist over their lines, so there is some wait time.  Luckily the students are usually at different stages with their sketching and tracing, so not everyone is waiting for the resist at once.

I stress to the students that they must make sure all the resist connects so that the dye does not travel to an area where they want it contained.

8 year old

Once that is done, I place the hoops to the side and introduce another project while the resist dries.  Also I make sure myself or my teenage daughter double check each work and touch up any resist that is not connected together well.

Now the fun part!  Working with the dyes!  I will have a piece of silk where I will show the students all the different ways they can use the dye, basically the same techniques you use with watercolor.  I do tell them to make sure they wash their brush out prior to using another color. That's the most important thing or they will end up with just a bunch of brown mucky color dye. 

You don't need a lot of colors since you can blend them to create what you need on the silk.  They also do not need a lot of color put in the palette pots, as the dye goes a long way on the silk.

(I have eye droppers to put the dye on the palettes, one for each color.)

Give each student a palette of dye, a couple of different size brushes, water, and a bit of salt. Let them have fun!

And how fun are these finished silks?  When we were on our hike, the kids started talking about a Reindeer Chihuahua.  I caught the tail end of the conversation so not sure of all the context, but I thought it would be a fun subject matter for a painting and below we have a few Reindeer Dogs!

I also brought down my Jack-a-lope for them to look at as an example, which was met with the strangest stares and I think I might of just cemented my status as the weird art teacher.

But back to Reindeer Dogs, these are so stinkin' cute.

10 year old

7 year old

Once they are finished applying the dyes, your work begins.  I use a heat set Jacquard dye.  I love it and it makes it easy for me to finish up the artworks in the studio.  So first, I use an iron to heat set each piece.  (it's suppose to be 3 minutes a piece but I find these works are small enough a minute and a bit was enough)

8 year old

Then once everything is heat set, I take them to the sink and rinse them out in lukewarm water to take out the resist.  Any pencil lines that are left, I rub a little hand soap over and give a light scrub and again rinse it well.

Set out to dry once all the resist is out.  This does not take very long.

11 year old

But if you are impatient like me, you can go ahead and iron them out while a little damp. Good news is that silk dries quickly and the damp helps me quickly get rid of any wrinkles.  Sometimes impatience pays off!

7 year old

Now your silk is either done and ready to give back to the students, or as in this case, you can put it onto a canvas for display.  I got my canvas on a 3 for 1 deal at Michael's, however I have also put the silk on Bristol with great success too.

Place the silk over the canvas and then starting from the middle of the silk, brush on a gel medium matte until it is adhered to the canvas.  I start in the middle so I do not get any wrinkles or bubbles in the silk.  You could get away with Modge Podge if that is what you have also.  

Put aside to dry.

As an instructor, you have probably put in an hour from start to finish at this point.

Once dry, I give the students the option to do some work over top the silk.  I offer up oil pastel and sharpie pens for any detail work they wanted to add to the artwork.

And voila!  You are finished and the students are thrilled.  So worth the time you put into the project, don't you think?

11 year old, "Reindeer Scottie"

Sunday, September 14, 2014

A Prickly Endeavor

I came across some really cute little terra-cotta pots prior to camp starting last week.  And when I say little, I mean so little I can't even imagine what you would plant in something that small, however they were perfect for me to have students create sculpted cacti.

And as with all things, there was lots of chatting as everyone began working on the project.  

I had the kids start by creating a base out of tin foil and sticking it in the pot.  Once the students were happy with the height and skeletal structure of their work, they started pushing in the "dirt" (i.e. clay) around the bottom of the pot.

And the chatter continued as they started creating their cactus, covering their tin foil in the clay and sculpting out the details.

I was making a cactus alongside them to keep in the studio and I mentioned I was feeling a little grumpy and tired that morning- basically like a prickly cactus.

Which suddenly led to conversation of different cactus personalities

Which lead to student's cacti evolving into little characters.

It was a really fun period of time in the class as the students were all gathered around one table and laughed amongst each other as they developed their cacti.  Lots of sharing of what they were creating and positive support of each other's ideas.

All good things.

Some students admired the developing personalities of other student's cactus but chose to not do the same, staying on the original planned course I had introduced with the project, a traditional potted plant.  

I think both ideas came out really fun.

Once they had their sculpture complete, I handed them each a bit of wire and a pair of scissors.  They then spent some time cutting the wire and sticking it into their cactus.

Because what's a cactus without the spikes?

I have to be honest, I wasn't expecting them to be quite so prickly when I picked them up to bake.  The first one actually made me jump when I touched it.  It felt like the real thing!

Once hardened, the works were painted. 

At this point, some of the wires fell out which was disappointing for some of the kids.  

For the most part, all the spikes were stuck solid but I gave the students the option to dip the few wires that fell out back into the cactus with a little glue if it truly bothered them to lose some of the spikes.

Some students did this and some did not.

And then when the paint was dried, I gave each cactus a quick coat of glossy varnish to finish.

And here are the results.

First a couple of traditional cacti.

8 year old

10 year old

Here's a nice cactus.  She keeps her spikes down so you don't get pricked.  My understanding is she only raises up her spikes when she is angry.

7 year old

We have the champion fighter cactus!  Or as I like to think of him, Rocky Balboa.

11 year old

I believe this is Mr. Blob.  I hate when my memory fails and reminds me I'm getting old. (Sorry Ms. A if I got it wrong.  Send me a note and I'll correct the description!)

8 year old

Doesn't this one look like a cactus you don't want to mess with?  I'm guessing with the open mouth, this cactus is also a bit chatty.

11 year old

Then we had the cactus that might of partook in waaaaay too many doughnuts.  His belly is exploding out of his pot!

7 year old

And last but not least, the artistic cactus.

11 year old

I'm sure it is evident by the work shown above, but just in case you couldn't tell, the kids seemed had a whole lot of fun creating these sculptures from beginning to end.  They chatted and laughed the entire way through and had a good time admiring them all in the end.  Definitely a project I will put in my back pocket to use again one day.

One final note, the chess set camp for next week has been cancelled.  However there will be an all day camp running on Wednesday from 9-3pm.  Call 604-971-1147 to register.