Two years ago I ran the Photography club at school. It was my second year teaching, and the first time I ever tried to run a club. Well, technically, I didn’t really “run” it- the students did. There was a president and everything! It went pretty well. We met every other week rather consistently and the kids had a great time.
The following year, due to contract negotiations, the union decided: no clubs.
This year, with our contracts figured out, clubs are back! At first, I thought about bringing back Photo club, as there were a lot of kids interested. Then my work BFF and her roommate mentioned were interested in starting up an “environmental art club” where they create projects out of recycled materials. So the three of us got together and decided rather than run around all week running separate-but-equal art clubs, we’d combine our smarts and create “Art Club” where kids are free to explore all types of art they’re interested in, be it photography, recycled art, knitting, drawing, etc.
To keep it from being a big free-for-all, the club-teachers and I decided we’d have “themes” for each meeting. Since we were asked last year to come up with a mural design for one of the blank walls in the cafeteria, we decided that’s where we would start.
The "Snack Shack" is the little side bar in our North Cafeteria (the school is so big we have three cafeterias!) is frequented by kids all day long. They sell all kinds of yummy stuff like mozzerella sticks, large pretzels, individual pizzas, sports drinks, some fruits and veggies, etc. It's a very happening place after school, just before all the sports start their practices.
When I met with the woman who runs the cafeteria (who requested the mural last year) she was not only excited we were finally getting around to making it, but she was thrilled to hear we'd be making it out of recycled materials! Working in the cafeteria all day, she sees so much waste, and was glad to know our art would be environmentally friendly.
Here's an image of the blank Snack Shack wall:
(All the snacks are behind where I'm taking the photo.
I promise we have more than just a lonely bag of Tostitos at the snack shack!)
And here is an image of the same wall, but with the size of the mural we were thinking:
It's going to be a recycled plastic bottle cap mural on a 4'x8" sheet of plywood.
As you can see, the women in the cafeteria use the table in the back of the snack shack for storage and organization, so I didn't want the mural to be so big it would invade their space. Also, from the window of the snack shack, there's only so much of the wall you can see, so stretching all the way to the top of the ceiling and out to the edges of the walls is just unnecessary, as it will go unnoticed.
Since last year, my work BFF, her roommate and I have been collecting bottle caps. We've got a few thousand now, but we'll need a little more to get the project done. I spent the last few weeks soaking the caps in warm water and some dish soap (to keep them from stinking up the place once they're up on the mural).
I've been busy!
At our last meeting, the kids sat in small groups and tried to think up some designs for the mural. The only request from the cafeteria ladies was that the mural be "fun and colorful!" so we had a lot of room to play around. We got some great ideas- many of which were food-related. My favorite was the concept of showing the United States outline with different types of food located in the areas they're produced- an Orange in Florida, a Lobster in Maine, pretty neat! However, working with bottle caps doesn't allow for a lot of the finer detail we'd need for all the food/states we want to present.
After reviewing the designs the kids came up with, I kept Googling around for inspiration- fun, colorful, food- and then I found it:
Yep! Eric Carle's The Very Hungry Caterpillar
At first, I was worried this would be a little too elementary for the high school kids, but when I revealed my sketches to them yesterday, they were so excited! It had everything we needed- fun, color and food!
The plan for yesterday's meeting was to start laying out our caps on our plywood, but it didn't arrive in time. Boo! Ever the art teacher with a back-up plan, I decided to sketch out our design on craft paper and let the kids practice laying the caps on there. This is the first time I've ever tried this kind of thing, so I figured one day of practice couldn't hurt!
So let's start with the sketch:
Sorry it's so skewed! I couldn't get high enough to get a normal photo!
Then we let the kids go to town...
I have to admit- I was so excited to see how great it was looking! I had never even tried this before and I was worried of the huge amount of potential this had to totally fail. But the kids were so pumped about it, and they can't wait to start the real thing at our next meeting. I was also really excited to realize what a wonderful group of kids we have- about 10-15 kids (only two boys) who are all polite and courteous to one another- they were bouncing off ideas and changing things up and making suggestions and taking constructive criticism so well! It was wonderful to watch them brainstorm about ways to use all the caps we had, or change up some of the values that were getting stagnant.
Anyway, we've got a few months before we'll be finished, but I think we're off to a pretty great start!
Anyone else out there on the recycled bottle cap mural band wagon? Any suggestions for us newbies?