Saturday, January 26, 2013

Modeling Beeswax - To Warm It or Not?

so, I am wondering about whether people warm up their modeling beeswax before they give it to kids.

I have, for years, been of the opinion that warming it is an essential part of the work.  You give them a basket of pieces, they choose a color that appeals to them, you read or tell a story while they warm it in their hands, and then you model something from the story.

Now I want to do some of the exercises from Learning about the world through modeling: Sculptural ideas for school and home by Arthur Auer with my group (Hand Gestures pp.14-20, interior hand-space form p.22) and it seems that for this work, the wax should be warm and ready to go.  You want them exploring their hands and then ready to look at the unique shapes made the wax formed by their own hands' curves, and I wouldn't want to stop all of that momentum to warm up your wax.

I know that there are directions for doing it online:

put the beeswax in a bowl and put the bowl on top of a warm stove

put it in very warm (but not boiling hot) water for 5-10 minutes

I was wondering philosophically what other people think.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Book Review - Coloring with Block Crayons

This is the other review I posted to our Yahoo Group:

Yes, I use Coloring with Block Crayons, Emphasizing the Primary Colors, 2nd Editionin my classroom.  I think it's helpful and I refer to it weekly. 

It is 72 pages long.  She gives basic exercises for the teacher to do before teaching the techniques, which are wonderful, since you're teaching through imitation here.

She talks concretely about topics such as introducing the materials to the children, starting with a verse, and lots of tips such as how to draw animals (and specifics for foxes, dogs, birds, cats, lions, rabbits, horses, cows, sheep, monkeys, fish, turtles, frogs), how to draw landscapes and skies, buildings, plants, all the things that might trip you up.

The basic technique exercises she covers are bands of color, clouds of color, tone shading, secondary colors, making browns, making a color circle, all color spectrum, drawing ribbons, controlling the width of the stroke, and controlling negative space.

In short, it really gives you a lot of details on all the things you might have questions about!  I think it is a good buy.  I actually have an extra copy and if someone is interested, just email me off list.  I somehow ended up with two.

The CD is helpful.  She talks right into the camera, holding the crayons and demonstrating the motions.  She also shows beautiful full color drawings that she has done that are pretty inspiring.  I think you could live without the CD, though, if you had to, because there are full color plates in the back of her book that also help you to see what's possible.  The plates in the book show alphabet examples, such as R for Rumpelstiltskin and B for bee, as well as people you would need for fairy tales (knight, king, queen, farmer and family).  She also shows completed full color drawings for "The Frog Prince," "Mother Holle," "The Tortoise and the Hare," and St. Francis and the Wolf of Gubbio.

I got our crayons through A Small Green Footprint, where you can buy the primary colors individually, as many or as few of each one as you want.

P.S.  My students went ahead and sewed pouches for their three block crayons, to keep them organized.  We used to have three small baskets, one for each color of crayon, but people seemed to want their own to take good care of.  I used a piece of Magic Cabin wool felt, cut in half, and then we folded that in half, divided 6 inches by three, measured two inches for each pocket using a ruler and drew lines with chalk, pinned along each line and the edges, put the crayons in while we sewed them (to make sure people sewed pockets that would ultimately fit), and sewed up the chalk lines and the edges.  Then I let them sew on snaps to keep the pouches closed when the top flap was down, which they were really excited about because they had only ever sewed on buttons.

Book Review - Painting and Drawing in Waldorf Schools

We just had a discussion in the Yahoo group about books for drawing and painting.  I thought it would be helpful to share my notes about two books which I own, and use every week.

I just got a new book which I think is fabulous!  It's Painting and Drawing in Waldorf Schools: Classes 1-8 by Thomas Wildgruber.

384 pages

There's a helpful amount of theory but also LOTS of full color pictures of student work.  Introduction, a chapter on form drawing, a chapter on free versus guided drawing (including how the alphabet is introduced pictorially), and chalkboard drawings.  A chapter on playing with paint versus guided painting.

Then, the school years.

A large section on each grade, with a series of assignments (and photos of student work) for each grade up to grade 8.  He talks about the painting and drawing work separately, as its own subject, as well as how it ties in with each main lesson, and examples of assignments and student work.  There are considerations and notes for each assignment.

You can get the book through Amazon.  I think it's a great all-in-one resource that would be really helpful!

I would also like to say that not all Waldorf painting books agree.  I read years ago that you should mix the two yellows (lemon and golden) that you get from Stockmar to make one "true" yellow, and the same with the two reds and the two blues.

That is for the early grades.  Then, later on (I believe it was fourth grade, Norse mythology) you would allow for students to compare and contrast and work with the different shades.  My mind is vaguely recalling that this is in Painting in Waldorf Education?  My book is at school so I can't look it up right now, but I remember something about Norse creation and the two reds.  Feel free to correct me if I'm referencing this wrong.

Anyway, the Wildgruber book allows the children to work with both yellows, blues, and reds almost from the beginning and my students are so excited to see and compare the two colors of each.  They are absolutely absorbed by the differences.  So that has been really compelling for them.  We got the paint jars and wooden holders from A Child's Dream Come True and Nova Natural.  I prefer the Nova Natural one; it's larger and has larger jars.  It also has lovelier lines.  But they both work perfectly fine.  And the children love (as I said) the variety of colors.  They look quite beautiful on the tables.