Archive for April, 2012

Today was an interesting day.

I had the privilege to spend it with the grade 4 students at Catalina Elementary.  They’re soooo tiny. I was expecting, taller, more adult like humans, but was brought back to earth with smaller, more childlike humans. 22 of them. they were very sweet.  One of them even had a ‘welcome to catalina elementary’ picture (trees and sunny skies in a ?park?) drawn and colored for me upon seeing me!  she then drew me a second picture (a flying jackrabbit!) for after lunch. received several hugs, and a few from the grade 2 class I worked with last week.  They’re all very sweet.

I found I was tired by the end of today. more so than I usually am.  I was working with a new bunch of students, 22 new little people to get used to and reach with my teaching skills…..! also, the project was new – I have completed the three components of this project separately, but today was the first time I have tried to combine them all.  It was challenging.  And it probably showed to the students. an without me as a reign holder they sort of took off madly in all directions by the end of the day. “they loose their focus in the afternoon” their teacher told me. She wasn’t kidding.

All in all, a good day. Lessons learned on my part.  finding that I really do like this teaching business. and that I’m pretty good with names too! It’s a good feeling to be able to remember their names by recess, I think it helps tremendously in getting their trust, attention and helping them like me. If I can take the time to learn their names, all 22! + the teachers! in an hour,  I reckon it shows that I care and that I’m interested in them as people too.

I’m back again on Friday to finish their projects. I’m hoping to do a better job next time round and we’ll get this project done and be proud of the outcome.




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Playing Catch Up.

A few pictures I had been wanting to share for a while.


This is the first sample bird I made….. it’s  “interesting”. 🙂  It’s not very pretty as it is here, but it does seem to have some potential.  I’ll have to mull it over and do some more sampling on it before I make up my mind entirely.


This, is the delightful rocking chair I was gifted from friends.  I basically rearranged my studio so that I could fit it in there.  I love it.


And! these….. are my birthday gift from my ever supportive and loving husband.  A set of ‘honest-to-goodness-dress-makers-shears”!  I know, I know. I don’t make dresses. but these make me happy in so many ways.  I LOVE  cutting things up.  I love the act, I love the sound of cutting fabric and I absolutely love the feel of a well made set of scissors, or shears, or paper cutter. that metallic *shhhhhiiink* makes me giddy.  these have a delightful sound, feel and quality. (Also the company “Merchant and Mills” is friggin fabulous. go to their website now and drool over beautiful cloth and scissors and oil cloth etc…).


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I have been thinking Long and Hard about what the F#$! I was going to be making in my studio, pretty much since we moved out here 4 years ago.  I’ve bumped along and completed some really cool things, however I never quite felt that CLICK that you get when you’ve resolved something.   I’ve had smaller *cl..cli….cli….cl…clic..cli* that never really completed themselves.  most of them involved bird themes, also, the quilted, embroidered wall works feel pretty good when I’m making them, but they never quite feel entirely resolved.

I was talking to a good friend about this a few weeks ago and I listened to what she said. She says her studio is a safe place, it’s her place, it’s a spot where she can go and make mistakes and not have to worry about them. She can go investigate ideas.  She also said she was having problems trying to sort out what she was making in her studio as well.  Not entirely like my problems but similar enough.  In the end, we decided that it would probably be helpful if I just went over to my studio and started making birds. because that’s what I wanted to do. Never mind what I thought I was supposed to do, just do what I wanted to.  This is one of the successful little guys to come from this conversation.

It’s a male Northern Parula. Embroidered with seed stitches and naturally dyed silk threads. yup, all natural dyes in here, all dyed by me.  ‘cept the white, the white is undyed silk.

This little guy is only embroidered on this side right now, and still is wingless and tail-less.  He’s also slightly smaller than he is in this picture.

I’ll post a picture of my first attempt later – it’s funny lookin. but has potential.

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Well….. I shifted the furniture around in my studio, made room for a SHELVING UNIT!!! and a Delightful, Vintage, Rural, Newfoundland Rocking Chair (Thanks A and D!!!).   The chair is painted one of the two colors I associate with Rural NL.. SeaFoam Green (pantone 922 C).  the second is called Dory Buff (roughly pantone 144 cp. Which will be the color of my house and studio when we get a round tuit. (I think I put my round tuit in that ‘safe place’))


Mom and Dad came out for Easter weekend and we shifted things around in the studio and created a space that I am much happier with.  The original layout had my back to the room at ALL times. I was either facing the wall with the shelf OR facing the opposite wall, sitting at my sewing machine. I currently have a smaller home machine set up in there for smaller projects, a rocking chair to sit and stitch in, as well, my big cutting table has bee moved so that I have visual access to more of my studio as well as the window….. It’s even cleaner in there than it is in the picture!

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The Grade 3 social studies curriculum covers a section or two on Labrador. In here there is a portion about traditional Tea Dolls. The Innu Tea Dolls were used by the nomadic people to carry tea. They would take all essentials with them when they moved camp.  The children would carry the dolls filled with tea. When the tea was used, it was replaced with moss so the dolls were still usable as toys.

I wanted this class of Grade 3 students to make their very own tea dolls. And we did – sort of. =0)

Since tea is expensive, we used split peas.  I bought a 50lb bag of split peas for stuffing instead of tea.  We talked about what different types of people we could paint for our dolls. The kids came up with a giant list of professions and types of people, including – nurse, baby, racer (car), woodsman, doctor, etc…..

We put a different person on the front and back and each of these were given a different expression. ranging from happy to excited and sad and bored….. there were many more at the time.

Here are a few of the split pea dolls the grade three students at Matthew Elementary painted, stuffed and sewed up on the machine!

If only you could have seen the beaming pride on their faces.  We had fun.

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1.  it’s ok to have fun. – don’t take yourself so seriously – seriously though.  I laugh so much with my students, we’re silly. We tell jokes and sing songs and make fun of ourselves (well mostly just me :)).

2. breaks are necessary to productivity – we get tired. creating is exhausting, fears and uncertainty creep in, as well as using the creative process if you’re not used to it. taking breaks, looking at our work with a well rested, well fed, mind  is a good thing.

3. Everybody wants to have outside praise of their work – with little thought as to how we feel about it.  The number of times a student has asked me ‘is this good’ with hope and fear in their eyes is uncountable.  I always say ‘do you like it’  to which they stop, look at it  and say ‘yes’ or ‘no’.  it’s a genuine reaction from them they aren’t expecting to be able to give.


Things I learn from teaching:

1. Relax – you’ve got to start somewhere with your idea.  It doesn’t have to perfect the first time. In fact it most likely won’t be perfect the first time.  Make the first draft, then see what you like, what you don’t like and make the appropriate changes. (lather, rinse, repeat until you find something you are happy with).

2. Searching for outside praise is stressful ( I see it in their faces), my little and not so little, are constantly coming up to me asking me ‘is this good?’ OR ‘is this right?’  my response is always ‘do YOU like it?’  usually they look at whatever they’ve created, smile and say ‘yes!’. the little ones generally stand taller and grin bigger.

3. Doing the hard things provides you with a sense of success and confidence that radiates and is beautiful.

4. Asking for help, when trying to do the hard things and finding out it’s beyond your grasp, is mature, and shows an awareness of self.

I love working with children. I love their enthusiasm (as exhausting as it can be some days). I love how proud they are when they do something difficult. I love the questions they ask. I love the confused looks on their faces when i tell them to put their hands on their heads  (it confuses them, and they stop talking. it also forces them to put down their pencils, scissors etc….) and how I am able to speak to them ALL for a few minutes when I have something Important to tell them.  I love their inability to cut a straight line, and their love for using ALL the colors in the rainbow, no matter what they’re making.

Sometimes I feel like I’m not actually an art teacher, but a confidence helper and someone who helps 5-14 year olds solve problems in expressing themselves.  it’s a great gig. I’m grateful for it.

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