Saturday, November 16, 2013

Sewn Monsters

I have succeeded in creating a tradition at my school! My second grade students are extremely excited when announce to them that we are going to be creating stuffed texture monsters. They have seen the artwork from previous years' students and are amazed that I will let them use needles to actually sew! It comes to them as a surprise, however, just how long this process takes. I read one of my favorite books to them, Leonardo the Terrible Monster. This year worked out particularly well as our school was in the midst of celebrating Red Ribbon Week where we talk about how to avoid drug use and bullying. Students discussed how Leonardo changed his ways to become a wonderfully friendly monster. Next, we start with the design.
Students folded their manila paper in half for two reasons. #1. The folded paper gives the students two spaces on the front and the back of the paper so they can try out multiple ideas. #2. The smaller format helps me budget the felt for making the actual monsters. 

On day two the students carefully cut their monster designs from the paper. They selected a color of felt for the monster body and traced their template onto the felt with Sharpie. Next, they used scrap felt to make monster features. 

I took the monsters home and used my sewing machine to quickly stitch the features to the design. (The first year I did this project, we glued the features. The felt got stiff from the glue, and the features still fell off!) The next year I tried to have the students sew the features on, but that just added way too much time to the process. I'm happy to spend a little bit of my time sewing the little eyes and noses and what not on. I tell my students that they have to do super great work on this project because of the additional time that I have invested in it! Even though I don't mind this task, I hope to find a volunteer parent to help me with this for next year. 150 monsters in one week can be draining!

On day three we discussed the artwork of Jessie Oonark. I found an image of one of her felt artworks in my stash and thought it was a perfect tie in to the materials that we were using. The kids loved deciphering the story that Jessie was telling in her work. It gave us a chance to further discuss the materials that we are using and to tie this project into the theme of "Earth, without 'art' is just 'eh.'"

These monsters are some of my favorites from my Monday class.
Next week we will cover the safety rules for using a sewing needle and begin sewing around the monsters. Some students have already said that they are afraid they may get hurt from the needle. Like all of our tools though, if we use them as they are meant to be used and respect them, they will not hurt us. I also believe that if they accidentally prick their finger they will learn that they need to be more careful. After all, I like them too much than to deny them the opportunity to make a mistake. I anticipate that they will need two, maybe three more art periods to finish sewing around, stuffing, and closing up their monsters. I hope they will be ready to put on display at our Winter Arts Festival.

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