It was so great to have time to make St. Patrick’s Day cards this year. I wanted to create a card that lays flat and found patterns in the Silhouette store to use with my Cameo cutter. I also did a hexagonal popup with a gnome. I am gearing up for Easter cards and baskets next.
Category Archives: art
Happy April Fool’s Day!
I have had an urge to make some postcards for fun and to use as examples for upcoming Creative Commons presentations. I did it in March 2018, mostly using images found at the Digital Public Library of America. That is where I started this year, too.
I don’t think there is any connection between April Fool’s Day and the The Fool, “first” card of most Tarot decks. I use the marks because it is usually numbered 0. Tarot cards, once the stuff of carnival midways and roadside shacks, are making their mark in the mainstream.
The Tarot of Marseilles dates back to the mid-17th century. It has roots in Switzerland and the card I used was created in 17551 by Claude Burdel, a master card maker and engraver in Fribourg, Switzerland. I found the card and went looking for “foolish” poems. The lines from Cat Stevens seemed to float to the top of my brain.
And that made me think about my favorite movie, Harold and Maude. The ending is one of the best I can remember. NOTE: this is THE ENDING, so if you haven’t seen the movie, don’t watch it. Go watch the movie, instead.
Taking the Hobbies Up a Notch
I have written before about my grandmother, Emma, who taught me to crochet. I was fascinated by the way the needle moved in and out even as she talked with me. She created beautiful pieces of utilitarian art like scarves and sweaters. But my main interest was in the intricate work of her tablecloths and doilies. The thread was thin, the needle was small and the patterns often grew out of a simple crocheted circle, gorgeous peacock and pineapple shapes appearing with each round.
That was nearly 50 years ago, and I have been crocheting every since. Like my grandmother, I make stuff like scarves and hats, but my first love is thread crochet, using it for towel edgings, doilies and pillows. On the skill chart, I consider myself intermediate and probably able to tackle most projects.
It has been some time, however, since I have challenged myself with my hobby. Crocheting is a way to relax, let my mind wander a bit, maybe watch a show or listen to a book while I work. And, there is nothing wrong with that. But, this year, one of my goals is to dive deeper into my lifelong hobby. There are a wide variety of different types of crochet including Irish, hairpin, Bruges lace, and tapestry. One pattern I have incorporates pearl beads into three dimensional ornaments, something that appeals to my inner engineer. In addition, there is the whole area of design and creating my own patterns.
Hobbies like mine can spark that “lifelong learning” we talk about as educators. And, I know the school day is packed with stuff, but I think it is important to find time for these kinds of activities within the hours of school rather than as after school programs so we can reach as many kids as possible. Not every kid has a grandmother to teach them or the resources to access supplies. Crocheting is all about math with counting and patterns. Daina Taimina has been using crochet to create hyperbolic space, making more durable models than those usually done in paper.
If you want to learn more about crocheting, the Wikipedia article is a great starting point.
What hobbies do you have? Is there a challenge that you want to take to expand your skills and knowledge?
Many of us probably remember round robin reading with a slight shudder of horror whether as students or teachers. I suppose at the time, it seemed the most efficient and effective way to hear every student, but it could be deadly for listeners and humiliating for readers. Is it still done?
A better way, I think, is to take a page from former US Poet Laureate Billy Collins who recommends giving students time to read over the material so they can prepare themselves and be able to read in a natural style. Collins is referring specifically to poetry but I think his suggestions can apply to any kind of recitation. Collins’ tips are part of a program called Poetry 180 that asks teachers and schools to read aloud a poem every day of the school year:
The goal is to give students a chance to listen to a poem each day. The best time for the reading would be at the end of the daily announcements, whether they are delivered over a public address system, at an assembly in an auditorium or by teachers in their individual homerooms. The hope is that poetry will become a part of the daily life of students in addition to being a subject that is part of the school curriculum.
The site provides a helpful list of poems that seem to be mostly modern and contemporary poems from mostly North American writers. Collins cautions that this is not an exercise in interpretation. The goal is to hear a poem:
Unless students really want to discuss the poem, there is no need to do so. The most important thing is that the poems be read and listened to without any academic requirements.
I find this a fascinating bit of advice.Just listen and absorb. It is similar to Garrison Keillor’s The Writer’s Almanac without the extra interesting tidbits and Keillor’s drawl.
Reading aloud as performance or art has been a minor theme of the last two books I’ve read. In his Essays After Eighty, Donald Hall writes about doing poetry readings with some history of reading aloud along with warnings for readers. He describes the move from imagining the poem’s sound through the eyes to needing to say aloud the “mouth-juice of vowels, or mouth-chunk of consonants” (p. 41).
His descriptions of the great poets he heard read match quite nicely with Billy Collins’ tips for reading out loud:
Eliot was good, but most performances were insufferable–superb poems spoken as if they were lines from the telephone book. William Carlos Williams read too quickly in a high-pitched voice, but seemed to enjoy himself. Wallace Stevens appeared to loathe his beautiful work, making it flat and half audible…Marianne Moore’s tuneless drone as as eccentric as her imitable art. (p. 42)
Only Dylan Thomas seems to have met his expectations with his “rich and succulent Welsh organ” (p. 43).
As I read Hall’s essay about reading poetry, I was reminded of James Agee’s preface to Let Us Now Praise Famous Men. “This text,” he writes, “was written with reading aloud in mind.” He seems to contradict himself and offer a reverse process to that described by Hall when he goes on to say,
That cannot be recommended: but it is suggested that the reader attend with his ear to what he takes off the page: for variations of tone, pace, shape, and dynamics are here particularly unavailable to the eye alone, and with their loss, a good deal of meaning escapes. (p. xi).
For Agee, sound adds meaning. As I wrote in the review on my book blog:
His prose tumbles along, piling up details and impressions, swirling the story into the midst. Sometimes, it made for daunting reading and I would look ahead for the next break. Other times, I found myself in the flow, not worried so much about exact meaning but absorbing impressions as I rode along the natural energy of the words.
I even read some of it aloud.
Poetry in Unexpected Places
I am sitting in the Indianapolis airport waiting on a delayed flight. I have walked the terminal several times and was struck by the beautiful painted glass windows, some of which include poems. The images have a restful quality to them and I love that someone took the time to create such beauty in what is sometimes a sterile space.
The one in the photo says:
On the ground
that the gift
the great wings gave us
is new eyes to see that
this place where we live
we love more than we know
I certainly love the place I live and I knew that all along but the poem reminds me of my connection to our farm and our home.
The art is by Martin Donlin and the poem is by Norbert Krapf. You can learn more about the art in this brochure.