Thursday, February 23, 2017


various pieces of cotton, linens & silks, windfall, spices, fruits & vegetables
with lots of string, hot plates & large pots for steaming

I love teaching this assignment and dedicate it every year to mentors
who continue to inspire me on a daily basis.

We start by talking about where all natural dye stuffs come from
and the kids go home and the search is on.
They bring back so much good stuff to use and have fun showing it off and sharing
somethings complete with ants and spiders.  
ha ha.
Some of the student bundles after emerging from the dye pots.
Notice how the color is seeping into the paper?
So lovely.

I save a lot of tidbits from garage and estate sales,
many pieces of laces, doilies, linens and such,
and cut them up into smaller pieces for the kids to choose from
(at least 20 varieties this year).
I also purchase silk off the bolt from Dharma Trading Company 
and rip banner size pieces for the students main foundation.
They can make as many as 3 bundles, 
and this year had 4 pots of dyestuff to choose from to steam their bundles in.
I was able to find windfall from Ornamental Plum,
Eucalyptus, and Walnuts,
plus I made a cheater pot of Rit Turquoise this year. 
When the Rit mixes with the windfall it tones and softens the color to make it look like a natural dye.
I also made a pot of clear water to steam in 
which turned out many beautiful results
because of the rich source of dyestuffs the kids brought in.

These pieces are from two bundles that I demoed with.
Loved how the doll bloomers turned out.
Included in each child's bundles are at least 2-4 butterflies of pearle cottons 
that pick up the color as well.
They use these to sew with on their banners.

After all the bundles are opened,
I have the kids gather round a table.
 They have to donate at least 2 of their pieces they don't care for or think they will not use.
Then we go round and round and pick something they might be able to incorporate into their designs.
I believe we made it around the table 3 times this year with 29 kids and 2 adults.
That's right, 
we also have English teacher Donna Hall and Coach Milan taking the class as well.
In the photo above Donna is the tall blond on the left,
and Coach Milan is middle right with hat on backwards standing next to our Assistant Principal,
 RoseEllen Shea,
 who heard about the process and wanted to watch the excitement.
So let's see how these banners turned out this year.
There were so many outstanding ones that I've had to do this post into 2 parts.

I wanted to start with Ms. Hall's banner because the kids and I loved it so much.
The reason I want the kid to use at least 2 dye pots
 is so that they have two contrasting colors to work with.
I believe Donna used the walnut and turquoise pots.
They are required to stack fabrics 3 layers deep in at least one area,
and to use at least 5 of their 12 embroidery stitches they learned to tack them down with.
Also required were to incorporate at least one of their polymer beads you saw in an earlier post, 
and to figure out a clever way to hang their banner from a twig they have found.
Ms. Hall also found an additional embellishment (required) in the carved wooden button,
plus she sewed down lots of twinkly seed beads as well to catch the eye.
Most of the feathers you will see came from around my cabin this summer. 

This next beauty was made by junior Lynette 
whom I'm finding is an incredible designer and craftswoman.
Check out these close-ups of her work.
My favorite part is the woven fabrics ala Jude Hill with the eco-dyed thread X's over top.

The yellows in this extraordinary piece were made from the spice Turmeric.
And here is a close-up  so you can see senior Sarah Woo's handwork.
I'm hoping you are also noticing that each piece has threads
 that are being couched down in random patterns,
another requirement.

These are probably too earthy to be called adorable, 
but this one by senior Alexis is pretty darn close.
The clever girl turned hers into a landscape.
Do you see it?
The clouds & flowers.
And if you look really close you will also see the clever use of safety pins to hold bead embellishment on top of pieces of eyelet.

You can really see the gorgeous turquoise that senior Crystal was able to achieve 
in one of her bundles.
I believe her second bundle went into eucalyptus.
Two incredible close-ups of her impeccable craftsmanship in her embroidery stitches,
and look how perfectly she couched down her thread.

This next increible piece was created by 8th grader Leanne.
Every year for the last three I've been blessed with amazing 8th graders.
She is another who showed really well balanced design and craftsmanship.
And I love the dimensional effect she created with the overlapping of doilies 
and then sewing on a dried flower in it's center.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017


paper collage, text, Modge Podge & various embellishments

These self portrait collages may be small but they are mighty in content.
Coming in at 4 1/2" by 4 1/2" with a piece of white Bristol paper as a border,
these pieces pack a punch.
The kids were required to bring in all 3 parts of a work of art:
subject matter (themselves), form (design elements & principals) & content (message).
So basically everything they've learned from day one.
Let's take a close-up look see.

We are starting with 8th grader Ashley Gong
and her phenomenal piece above called "Get Ready for Rain".
So appealing to the eye for so many reasons.
The pattern & texture, the value change in the color, the fun embellishments,
just an absolute delight for the eye.

Love the color scheme junior Mary Kim picked to work in.
When I was in college the secondary colors were my first choice for many of my assignments.
She is calling this "I'm in Control",
and is reminding herself to Breathe,
good advice for all of us.

"Hidden Dreams" by junior Tiffany Chen evokes such gentleness yet strength at the same time,
just like it's maker.
Tiffany also has chosen a secondary color scheme,
while senior Deborah Harris below is limiting herself to only neutrals in "Forward".
It makes for a very striking, stark & effective composition.

This next super playful & colorful piece "The Entertainer" was made by junior Nara Chai.
It was one of the class favorites.
Nara put so much extra time and effort into it,
and the text she brought has great meaning
"I love all my friends but I hate when their eyes are on me" 

"Wilted Roses" by junior Sarah Oh was a very powerful piece as well.
So critically thought out,
so well executed,
we all gravitated towards it with it's complimentary color scheme,
organic shaped edges,
dimensional embellishments,
and exceptional drawing skills.
Brilliant job Sarah!

Saturday, February 18, 2017


bfl roving & spinning hook made from a coat hanger

First of all let me introduce you to jack of all trades,
Cross Country & Track and Field,
 Coach Milan,
a Paraeducator for one of my students who joins us everyday for the Beginning 3-D class.
Occasionally he gets to join in on an assignment,
and I'm discovering that he has an artistic gift for design & craftsmanship as well.
Here he is learning to spin yarn,
a very difficult global skill.

It takes extreme concentration to learn this skill as you can see.
The kids were totally unaware that I was even taking photos of them.

And here are the young ones plying their singles 
and using the sink facets to stretch their yarn from.
Of course their are lots of other ways to learn these skills but the coat hanger as spinning hook
and stretching out the singles seems to work best with the beginners.

Friday, February 17, 2017


Whitney High School's 1996 Alum,
 Brian Kesinger,
 star just got one notch higher
 as he is recognized and interviewed for his work in Disney's Twenty-Three Magazine Publication. 

This magazine is all Disney,
a place to discover the magic of Disney's past,
present & future.

Congrats again Brian,
we are all so very proud of you here at Whitney!!!

On Instagram Brian says,
"This is the closest I've ever been to Walt."
So cool Brian!!!
You've got your Dream Job.
Mom, dad and brother Allan must be glowing with pride,
as are your wife and the kids I'm sure.
I know I am! 

Thursday, February 16, 2017



I just adore when my ex art students stay in touch 
and let me know they are still using their art skills in their lives.
Especially when they aren't majoring in art,
just keeping it in their lives because it makes them feel good.

As is the case with Alumni Borah Lim,
Class of 2012.

Borah is in her senior year at Williams College in Williamstown , Mass.
It is a small, highly selective liberal arts college
where Borah is majoring in Biology.
 Borah is taking a quiltmaking class for winter studies
(a special January term period between their fall and spring semester)
where she is working on different kinds of quilt patterns.

She recently sent me these two pictures of two of the patterns she is learning:
a pieced cube and an applique heart in yummy Batik fabric tones.

And then today she sent me pictures of two of her almost finished pieces.
This gorgeous sampler above,
and below an Irish Chain.

Bravo Borah!!!
So very proud and pleased that you are using your many gifts.
These quilts are beautiful!
To see more of Borah's work when she was here at Whitney, 
simply put her name in the blog search engine .

Wednesday, February 15, 2017


vintage instruments, handspun/handdyed yarns, & various other goodies

This project took a whole different twist this year.
In years past,
 it was referred to more as a Twig Sculpture with Free Form Knitting/Crochet,
but superstar seniors Shreya Sheth & Jacqueline Yu took it in a whole new exciting direction.
Instead of starting with a large interesting found branch/twig,
they rescued old discarded instruments and turned them into amazing works of art.
They were required to incorporate their handspuns that we saw them spinning in last weeks post.
And they also learned to free form knit & crochet in order to sculpt with the fiber.
Let's see what they came up with. 

Shreya  was able to find an old child sized guitar to use as her foundation.
The green fiber is her handspun.
She also dug thru my eco-dyed scraps, burlaps & laces to add a bit of color and texture.
And check out the adorable flag bunting that she knit up to drape around the neck of the guitar.
And last but not least,
she named her piece Sage.

Jacqueline was hoping to work with an old brass horn as her foundation.  
I was able to find her one at an Antique store up by our cabin.
I adore what she did design-wise with this piece.
How it has tentacles that reach out into space,
how she incorporated the hanger and brought in wood as well.
And do you see the glass shards she has glued down to the branch?
Her handspun is wrapped around the branch as well.
And her free-form knitting is done with some dark blue cording she found.
I also really enjoy the vintage crocheted doily that she is using to create a focal point with.
Jac also thought to use wire to build this tree form,
and it's feels so good that she has wrapped fiber thru it.
Plus my eye likes all the little dangley fibers.
You are a very clever girl Jacquline!
A highly unique piece.

Thank you Shreya and Jac for always pushing my assignments in great new directions,
and coming up with amazing pieces to display

Monday, February 13, 2017


Hanging out with our boy this weekend.
What a joy he is,
and so much personality!

Thursday, February 9, 2017


recycled cotton sheeting, indigo dye vat, rusty items, rubber bands, string & clamps

Teaching this Japanese dye technique is so much fun for the kids.
They love turning their hands blue,
even though gloves are provided,
and the unveiling is so exciting for them.
I have them do a couple of practice pieces on paper first before I give them the good cotton.
But they are still surprised and delighted with their results.
Let's take a look.

Katherine Chen's reminded us of a butterfly,
or perhaps an X-ray of the rib cage.
Really beautiful Katherine!

Ethan Z. used clamps that had a bit of rust on them to create this cool design.

And instead of wrapping this traditional technique with string,
Jason Park used clamps instead. 

I believe Adiyan used two different types of clamps
and fan folding to get this repeat design.

And we all loved this one with the rust spots by Willmer Lizardo.

We end with Sophia O. and her very lovely piece.
Do you see some the big hibiscus?

I only wish I would have brewed the indigo vat a bit darker.
I'm really bad at measuring things.
I know I've mentioned before that I have that problem when I cook.  hee hee
I think you will see the second Art Wheels Shibori pieces a bit stronger blue.