Life gets crazy sometimes, and the McKee family sure has had a lot of that lately! We bought a new house! Exciting! But so. much. work. Seriously. Electrical work, tearing out old crusty ceilings and staples, ripping out old smelly carpet, shrieking over dead mice and their little, shall we say, "surprises". There's a whole lotta mess and gross goin' on these days. But it's also been pretty awesome. My kids are learning to play with mud and sticks. I check 'em for ticks every night. Once this big house project is finished we are so gonna appreciate our beds with sheets and couches! Just before buying this house (which happened really fast and just fell into place), I entered an art project contest in the hopes of scoring some cool new supplies and ideas for my classroom. After all, I want the best for my students! But trying to fulfill that commitment with moving, renovations, kids sports schedules, and set design sure has been tricky, to say the least. One sunny afternoon I dove in between house projects, and chipped away at it whenever possible. Let's take a closer look at what I came up with...
Since the inside of the house has been a busy work zone, I set up a cozy little nook for myself on the front porch. It's been a favorite gathering place for my family to have meals, share ideas and new discoveries, and to have art time when our creative cups are nearing empty and it's time for a refill. The fine folks at Activa Products sent art teachers interested in their contest a neat-o "mystery box" filled with samples of goodies to explore. I had to use 3 of the items sent, along with any additional materials of my choice, to create an original project that could be created in a classroom setting. I was THRILLED to find celluclay in my box!
It's a papier mache clay that is packaged dry, just add water, mix it around, and voila! Sculpting gold.
I decided to roll up my sleeves and use what I had on hand (since it was Easter break, most of my art supplies have been packed away, and I wasn't in school) to MacGyver and Mary Poppins my way through this challenge!
I love repurposing things. My kindly neighbor, Mr.Shaefer, saves little fruit and yogurt cups for me. They sure do come in handy in the art room, but for this challenge I decided to transform a cup into a tiny planter. Celluclay sticks surprisingly very well to plastic.
Just add bits at a time and use water to smooth out rougher textures.
To cover the plastic lip of the cup I formed a celluclay coil and attached it to the top of the cup, blending it into the sides of the planter and leaving the inside bare.
Before the planter surface dried I used extra bits of celluclay to make parts of a face for the pot. I was aiming for a sugar skull Frida, so I coiled the signature unibrow.
The bits and pieces stuck to the pot! No extra glue or fancy steps needed. It was really that easy!
While the planter dried in the sun, I took a foam ball (I have a ton of them in my storage closet at school).....
and hot glued it to the bare insides of the planter cup.
Frida Kahlo is one of my favorite artists. She's a strong female example of grit, something we attempt to explain to our students and expose them to as often as possible. Each year 3rd graders learn a bit about her while we explore Mexican culture, including Day of the Dead. I wanted to merge some of the things we discuss and roll it into one fun and memorable project. With this idea in mind, I moved forward in my project development.....
Frida loved nature and flowers. How perfect that I was making a planter?! Rigid Wrap to the rescue!
To begin, I found some fencing wire, needle nosed pliers that could cut wire, and Rigid Wrap, of course!
Rigid Wrap comes in rolls that I simply unrolled a bit at a time, cutting it into strips for wrapping around my wire.
A few rough bends to the tips of my wires and they were ready to be transformed into flowers!
I dipped one strip into water at a time, carefully wrapping around the wire. I shaped a rough flower at the top and wrapped another strip around the wire, leaving a bit of the tip exposed so I could poke it into the foam insert.
And I left them to dry in the sun!
Before painting I tested the arrangement with the pieces I'd made. She still seemed to need a bit of filler on top. I chatted with my 10-year-old son and his best friend, who happened to be over to play for the afternoon. She suggested using Easter grass. Brilliant! Why hadn't I thought of that myself?! It was Easter weekend, with discounted prices on all Easter stuff! PERFECT!!! So I snatched up a few extra bags of my favorite kind, the crinkly paper bits.
With all the parts dried from the sun, it was time to paint! However, I was in a pickle. Yes indeed, a real pickle. What's an art teacher to do without a trusty paintbrush to see her through this messy step?! I wasn't in my classroom and my art supplies were packed away from our move! I searched my purse and surprisingly emerged empty handed. A first, that's for sure. Next, I decided to try my husbands car. It's an eclectic collection of forgotten projects, papers he wants to save but won't put away because he'll forget about them, and stuff from our kids school and sports lives. It all just kinda just rolls around together in there and smells a little like pizza...I found a brush! Under the seat! YES! I didn't care that it was floppy and awkward, it was something, and that was more than I started with! Things were looking up! Until they weren't...
The brush was one of those brushes students complain about. The kind that loses it's bristles so fast you're almost positive it'll be completely bald by the time you complete your painterly task. After painting my base layer of white and sprinkling it with Scenic Sand for a sugary look, I had to problem solve this paintbrush problem. What would Mary Poppins do in a situation like this? What would MacGyver do?
They'd both remind you that you have an old Mary Kay lip gloss floating around in your purse that you keep telling yourself to toss but you save it because you think maybe you'll scrape a little more out just one more time.
You get real, and clean off that applicator tip, and start painting! It's not perfect, but that's ok! It looks handmade by someone determined to get the job done, no matter what!
I used acrylic paints and sprinkled Scenic Sand to the paint before it dried, making Frida appear to be sugary! The Easter grass was the perfect addition to her flowery top.
She's going to look pretty adorable at the new house this summer! If you're looking for fun projects to try, visit Activa Products online and follow them on Instagram! Your kids will love it, and you will too!