Stuff – literally – is bringing me down!

Organization is not my strong point.  Couple that with two kids under the age of six and a rather small house for a family of four, it can really be hard to stay organized.  This lack of organization can really get in the way of getting things done and in reaching my goals in life.  So, this weekend I tried to get a little more organized, by making the basement into my workshop.  It is still a work in progress.

I am going to share (as embarrassing as it is) some of the before pictures with you.

Can this be organized in a meaningful way?

This is the space I will use for the workshop!

After shots will be coming soon!  What is bringing you down?  What is standing in the way of your dreams or your creative expression?


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Sunday Afternoon Art Making . . .


Eliott's Fish Collage


Eliott came down with something over the weekend — fever during the night and moving slower during the day.  (Poor little guy!)  But, it was a good excuse to take it easy and make stuff on Sunday!  I did a few sketches for ideas for painting the tree house.  Eliott made a paper fish collage and some of his own tree house drawings.


Eliott's design sketch for on tree house.



"The Monster Guy"


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And the beat goes on . . .

Sorry for my absence from my blog.  I promise to be better and to stay on track.  Here are a few updates:

  • June – I taught a two-week enrichment course to children in second-fourth grade.  We made puppets, masks, scenery, rehearsed, and performed “Where the Wild Things Are.”
  • June – I took a week-long intensive puppet making workshop at the Owl Glass Puppetry Center in West Liberty.  Monica Leo is the best!
  • August – performed a Batman puppet show at Eliott’s five year old Batman birthday party.
  • September – Started two new jobs.  Supervising art education student teachers as a graduate assistant and teaching elementary art at a private school.
  • September – performed “Bony Legs” at the Children’s Festival in West Liberty.

Goals for the new school year:

  • Have fun and make time to make art and work on puppetry.
  • Make more art with my kiddos.
  • Try to book a performance every month or two.
  • Survive teaching elementary art!
  • Paint the tree house – we have already stained it.
  • Finish my master’s thesis on puppetry arts and education.
  • Make an art studio in the basement – get rid of junk in the basement.
  • Do a puppetry workshop or performance at Eliott’s school.
  • Work on some pieces related to “Bony Legs”/fairy tales for the Art Ed. Graduate Show.
  • Spend more time crafting with my Crafternoon sisters.

Whew!  That’s a list.  We’ll see what I get through. . .


Performing "Bony Legs" at the Children's Festival in West Liberty. (Photograph by Ben Lewis)



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Performing “Bony Legs”

I performed “Bony Legs” for about 100 4th graders last week at a local elementary school.  It was a mad dash leading up to it trying to get everything done.  I hate to admit this because I am really too old for this sort of thing, but I was up until 4 in the morning the night before finishing things up for the show.  I still have some more finishing touches left of puppets and props that I hope to finish up this weekend.  (Photos of final puppets and props will be coming soon.)

The response from the students was great.  Lots and lots of laughs, especially from a boy sitting dead center.  I was worried that it might be a show better suited for lower elementary students, but the kids were fully engaged for the whole show.  It probably helped that their teacher was performing original songs on the guitar.  Thanks, Kelly!

The students had been studying folktales and had written their own stories with morals at the end.  The show was a great culmination to their unit.

They had so many questions and comments after the show.  I should have written them all down right away.  But, here some of the things I can think of off the top of my head.

  • “Two things, I am from Russia and my name is Sasha.” (The protagonist in the story’s name is Sasha.)
  • Have you done puppet shows before?
  • I was in a play about Baba Yaga at the University, and I play the guitar. (Love affirming what kids are in to.)
  • How did you make the puppets?
  • Why did you decide to do a puppet show?
  • Bony legs could have used her nose to knock down the tree. (Bony Legs does have a big nose, so I thought this was a pretty good idea.)
  • What are Bony Legs’ eyes made from?


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Garden Mural

The wonderfully creative elementary education students that I teach created this mural along with two other sections of “Methods and Materials.”  The course provides pre-service elementary teachers with pedagogical methods in the visual arts for children 3-12.

We painted directly on the canvas with acrylics and used a pin-up mural technique of using gel medium to paste on individual pieces of canvas – birds, flowers, bugs, and other criters.

Mural in the Iowa City Public Library

Thanks to Dan, one of the other wonderful T.A.’s, the mural is now hanging in the public library.

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Building Puppets – Works in Progress

Here are some pics of the puppet progress.  They are coming along, but the whole project has been pretty time intensive.

Here's my dining room table. I'm working on painting Sasha's head.

Bony Leg's head. Trying to decide which buttons to use for the eyes.

Here's the cat's head drying. I used a styrofoam egg for the base and covered it with paper mache. I am going to connect it to the body with a spring. Hoping this will make the cat more life-like, and give it some good movement.

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Thinking about Baba Yaga

Here’s a little poem I wrote.  It was a good exercise to think about her attributes and what she represents as a character.  Also allowed me to think about key images in the story.

Baba Yaga

Slavic hag alone

Iron teeth eat dirt, flesh, and bones

Yearning in secret

Chicken talons scratch

Matryoshka open up and hatch

Smell of wet basement

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