Saturday, February 22, 2014

Art is Awesome!: Calder Jungle Animal Mini-Stabiles

As promised, here is Tala's class project. They happened to be learning about the jungle during the first week of February, so her teacher asked me to design a jungle-themed "Art is Awesome!" project. Mission accepted! 

Part of the lesson on Alexander Calder was an excellent artist biography for kids called Sandy's Circus that I read to both Diana and Tala's classes. Although my Powerpoint presentations about the artists we study are short, sweet, and (I'd like to think) engaging, nothing fires up a kid's imagination quite like a good story. 

Here's one of my favorite pages, which talks about how little Sandy Calder built cool things for his sister and friends out of what other people might consider junk. Awesome!

Now let's talk about Calder Jungle Animal Mini-Stabiles. What's a stabile (STAY-bill)? It's an abstract sculpture, usually made out of wire or metal, that looks like a mobile but doesn't have any moving parts. Calder's stabiles are massive; one of his most famous stabiles is in Chicago's Daley Plaza. Our stabiles are mighty but mini.

As I've mentioned, I tend to design a project for Diana's kindergarten class and just scale it down for Tala's preschool class. I found that previous projects weren't scaled down nearly enough; either the preschoolers needed a lot of help and guidance from the grownups in the room to complete the project or they lost interest and the projects ended up half- or hastily-completed. So, with this project, I scaled WAY down. 

Click for larger photo
  1. felt animal stickers
  2. beads o' many shapes in the colors of the rainbow
  3. letter beads (Thanks again, Betsy!)
  4. pipe cleaners in the approximate colors of the animals' tails (I cut these in half, making roughly 6"-long tails.)
  5. clothespins (which are apparently only sold in the art aisle, not the laundry aisle)
  6. Pencil (not shown)
  7. Scissors/X-acto knife (not shown) 
  8. Elmer's glue (not shown)
Click for larger photo
Prep Instructions
  1. Look at how adorable these felt animal stickers are!
  2. Cut off the felt animal's cute little tail. 
  3. Trace the outline of the clothespin on the back of the animal sticker.
  4. With an X-acto knife, cut the paper off just the bit you traced.
  5. Dot the surface of the exposed sticker with Elmer's glue. The stickers are sticky, but not sticky enough to securely hold a clothespin.
  6. Attach the clothespin to the sticker. Press firmly for a few seconds. Let dry.
  7. Attach the pipe cleaner by threading it through the hole of the clothespin and twisting twice. This will be the animal's new tail.
  8. Look below for the class instructions.
Class Instructions
  1. Pick one bead of each of the colors of the rainbow. You can substitute pink for purple.
  2. Thread each bead onto the animal's tail.
  3. Find the first letter of your first name in the letter bead tray.
  4. Place that letter bead onto the end of your animal's tail.
  5. (Grownup) Twist the end of the pipe cleaner around the letter bead twice so it's "sealed".
  6. Bend the pipe cleaner in different directions so your animal tail displays a colorful beaded rainbow!
Hello, Zebra. You are supercute and functional as a bookmark or memo-holder.
There you have it! If you want to scale it up a notch, maybe for kindergarten or first- to second-grade, consider making the tails out of 24-gauge jewelry wire. Also consider attaching a thin magnetic strip onto the back of the clothespin so you can hang your stabile on the fridge as a memo holder. 

Hello, Magneto Memo Lion. I want to hug you and pet you and love you and call you George.
Finally, it seems crafting naturally leads to hoarding. This is now taking up space in my craft supply box:

That's right. It's a tiny bag of tiny felt animal tails.
Anyone have ideas on how I can use these? 

Ooh! Ooh! I should start a web series called Craft Chopped! "Can you create an objet d'art using the wacky craft supplies hidden in your baskets before time runs out? You have 30 minutes to make something beautiful and/or useful with... tiny felt animal tails, a hot glue gun, a plastic headband, and duct tape. Time starts now!"

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