Tuesday, May 2, 2017

In the Art Room: Chalked Fish Ceiling Tile

Y'all...it's getting down to the wire and I'm all about the last minute at this point in the school year. Between our art show, clay week(s), a ceramic mural undertaking (stay tuned!), our annual 2nd grade ceiling tile project just kinda slipped my mind. Not until a teacher asked did I remember that it was that time of year. After a mishap with a chalk order from China (they sent me HAIR CHALK, y'all!), I reached out to my friends at Faber-Castell and they sent us the most beautiful chalk I have ever seen. Last week, I sorted the chalk, created the following video and today, in just under 2 hours, my 65 second graders created magic!
The video so saved my voice! It's a loud room with lots of echos...I know that I would have struggled to keep my voice going and my patience in check. It was just me, one parent and a handful of super helpful 4th grade girls to assist these four classes of kiddos. The kids did wonderfully! I am so super proud of them...and they were so proud of themselves...here's a short video of them in action: 
If only we worked that fast! 
In addition to the video, I spent about an hour in the morning with my super helpful specials team laying out large sheets of paper, setting out the chalk trays and the foam brushes. Last night I cut out 65 fish templates (we'll be painting them for our very last art project of the year!) and had them on the kids' tiles. We always work on the opposite side of the ceiling tile as it takes to the chalk so much better. 
32 chalk trays were ready for the kids to use. Check out that chalk, isn't it beautiful? 
Now, with 65 kids, you know they don't all work at the same pace. So I would share a little of the video and then put them to work. When they finished OR when they heard me ring my chime, they knew they were to stop immediately and meet again on the floor to learn the next steps. 
 Kids who finished early were asked to walk around and see if there were any friends who might like some help with their tile. I wouldn't normally have the kids work on each other's pieces but this is an exception. These tiles are BIG! And some kids wanted the help of their friends. Also, I emphasized that this was a collaborative project so help from our friends was great...but only if the artist wanted it. If not, move on to another friend!
This is our third year with this project and it's a big hit each time. This particular group was so excited about it! We do a different theme each year. Our first year, it was butterflies and least year was flowers. I'm so pleased with these bright and cheer fish, perfect to create a school of fish in our ceiling! 
 I get a lot of questions about this project so I thought I'd address them:

* How do you seal these? After the kids are done, these are sprayed heavily with Aqua Net. It does dull the color but not much...and def not noticeable from the ceiling.

* What does the Fire Marshall think? Our Fire Marshall didn't mention them! And, of course, we didn't ask. 
 * Do the kids get these back? No. I emphasize that the tiles are there to stay, it's our legacy, our magical mark we leave behind.

* How do you get all of the tiles? The first year, my custodian was able to order extra for me. Now, we just use the ones he has taken down. Meaning, when he takes down the clean tiles to hang the fish, we'll use those as our "canvas" next year!
 * How did you convince your administration to allow this project? This project came from a request from my principal! She saw artwork on the ceiling of a school and asked if I could do something like that. At that school, the kids had drawn on paper and the work was tacked to the tile. Originally, when our street painter artist came, we were going to do sidewalk drawings...but rain was in the forecast. Thinking that the texture for the tile would be the same as the sidewalk, the night before, I came up with the idea to do the back of the tiles. We do the back because it takes the chalk much better. 
 * Why chalk and not paint? Personally...I find the surface of the tile to be very porous and just absorbs the paint. This seems to take a lot longer...and I don't always love the look. Chalk, however, works great on the back of the tile and I love the look. 
 * What happens when you run out of ceiling tiles?! Pretty sure that won't happen any time soon. Our school is large and our librarian just asked today if I'd do something for the ceiling in there! Short answer: I'll retire, ha!
* Who hangs the tiles? One of our amazing custodians. He LOVES doing it and seeing what the kids create. I tried to hang them once...it's a rain of chalk dust! He's the best for doing it for the kiddos. 

I think that covers all the questions about this question I've gotten in the past. But if you have others, feel free to drop me a line in the comments!
 Love to know if you've done a project like this before...or any legacy type project. They certainly add a punch of happy to our school. 
I'll be sure to share what they look like once they are installed. Until then, I'll be unloading/loading a kiln, matting artwork, scratching my head over a mural and having a nightmare about the art show. You know, the usual. 
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4 comments:

  1. These are beautiful! Do you spray the tiles to set the chalk, make it "smudge proof"?

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  2. If you spray with fixative you won't have the rain of chalk dust on your head while mounting. And the colors will stay more vibrant!

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  3. Thoughts on using oil pastels instead of chalk pastels?

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  4. You’ve got some interesting points in this article. I would have never considered any of these if I didn’t come across this. Thanks!.
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Thank you so much for your comments. I appreciate each and every one :)