Friday, December 25, 2015

Bringing art to life!

My grand-niece Emma with her Emma doll

I listen to a wonderful podcast on my way to school in the mornings. Abby Glassenberg, "While She Naps," is a softie and doll designer. Lately her interest runs more to the business end of creative careers as she takes us along on her journey of turning her creative skills into a marketable business. What I love the most, though, are her conversations with other creative artists and sewists. Her interviews are so full of useful tips and recommendations that I could spend a good half hour on the computer looking at all the links in her podcast notes and wanting to know more about the art of people she interviews. She has a sweet voice, asks all the right questions, and makes my trip into school a pleasure.

I wear many creative hats. I am a painter, an illustrator, a writer, a graphic designer, an art teacher, and a quilter. I am not doll maker in any way, shape or form. But that does not stop me from enjoying her interviews with doll designers and hearing their stories. On Pinterest, I saw a number of pins related to people making dolls out of kids' artwork. I was inspired to try this out after hearing the stories behind the many doll makers on Abby's show.

I teach art to 3 year olds through 5th grade at my school and something that is very common with my youngest students is how they draw people. Can you picture the well known M&M cartoon character with his arms and legs coming out of the head of the round candy? You might see this same characterization in any child's drawing. As young artists perceive people around them, the face is the most important element of anyone they meet, and everything (such as arms and legs) are simply extensions of the face. There might be a body between the head and the legs, but in their eyes, it is not as important to recognize or represent in their artwork.

We expect children to depict reality on paper, yet how can we get them to notice what is not important to them? If they get to design their own softies, they would need to make decisions that travel beyond where the eyes and mouth go on the face. For example, what color would they choose for the shirt or the dress? Beginner artists in my class drew a self-portrait making many color decisions for each part of their portrait. Then, using fabric samples donated to the art room, I turned each of these wonderful depictions into a softie and brought their drawings to life!

These dolls (11 in all) became the highlight of my art show this fall. And, because I am a tech nerd and always look for fun ways to integrate technology into my art room, I also used the Aurasma app on the school iPad, and took a video of each student holding their doll. When parents aim the iPad over each doll, the App triggers the screen to show the video of the student. Amazing!

After that exercise in creative fun, I went ahead and ordered one of Abby Glassenberg's PDF doll patterns. I don't know that I will ever become a doll maker... (as if I need yet another hobby!)... but once I created these adorable dolls for my class, I realized I should learn how to do it the right way, from Abby. I selected and ordered her Emma doll pattern for my grandniece Emma. I was so excited to start this doll and actually managed to finish it just in time for Hanukkah.

I think I will stick to what I do best... painting and quilting... of course until the next new project sparks my interest. I do hope, though, that my sweet Emma enjoys her handmade doll as much as I did my momentary obsession into the world of softie makers!

No comments:

Post a Comment