Thursday, August 31, 2017


A challenging but wonderful learning experience for my Ceramics II students
is this Stacked Clay assignment.
I give the kids white Porcelain slip 
and they mix their own colors from the 4 oxides we have to choose from.
Then they poke holes into a piece of white Porcelain clay and pour their colored slips
into the clay body.
Wedging is next to mix everything together until the porcelain turns another color.
In this piece above,
 which I think I may have shared 2-3 years ago,
I mixed Cobalt Carbonate into the white clay body 
so that it would turn blue in the final glaze firing.
Then I rolled pieces of this blue clay into slabs 
and stacked alternated slabs of white between them.
I rolled all top & side edges together to bond the slabs into one
 and push out the air bubbles in between,
then rolled the bonded combo. slab into a long piece so that I could roll that up into a jelly roll.
Next the roll was turned on it's side,
and thin slabs were cut and inlayed onto a waiting white porcelain slab.
The bowl was then formed over a newspaper mold and feet attached.

Above is another bowl/plate that I made for a demo. maybe 2 years ago.
It's a bit hard to see the actual second color I mixed from this pix,
but I made one mixture of Red Iron (brown),
 and another of Chrome Carbonate (pale greenish blue grey).
I really liked the elongated form that came from this demo.
I never plan anything ahead or know what I'm going to come up with,
so it's always a surprise.
Helps me to be more creative.

This was my demo. last year for 2nd year student senior Sarah Chang.
I lucked out and ended up with 3 pieces.
The first one is the glass form on backside left.
In that piece you can see the pattern I stacked the Blue and white slabs in.
But I ended up with so much leftover clay that I didn't want to throw away it,
so I overlapped the edges I had cut off and made another glass form,
the one on the right back.
Once again,
as I cut off edges, 
I had tiny pieces of slab left over,
so again I overlapped them and managed to use them all up in this last tiny vase form in front.
Way too much fun!

Tuesday, August 29, 2017


100% cotton sheeting ripped into squares, indigo vat, rubber bands, string, staples
gloves (optional)

These Shibori pieces were beyond gorgeous this quarter.
The indigo vat loves 7th graders

Tiffany Cheng

Sriram Murakonda

Hana Sandomirsky

Siri Gullapalli 

Daniela Reyes

Pearl Wang

Madison Plotkin

These are all so exceptionaly done I can't seem to pick a favorite.
Check out those smiles below.

Nick, Izzy, Brandon, Bhumika, & Siri

Monday, August 28, 2017


I like to try and have fresh flowers in my classroom,
from my or our school gardens,
 flowers the kids bring me (cuz they know I love them)
or maybe ones I buy for myself, 
just because   :)
I dry them out to be recycled in our eco-dye units,
or as added embellishments for class assignments.
Well two days before school started 
I went to our school's rose garden to see what I could find.
I cut several roses and put them into a bucket of water to take them back to my classroom.
Unbeknownst to me,
I had a passenger along for the ride.
This ginormous Praying Mathis.
I couldn't believe I hadn't seen him,
and that he could easily have crawled right onto me.
But there he was,
ready for class to begin.
I know how wonderful they are for your garden,
so I was determined to get him to one ASAP.
No class today young man.
I took that bucket that the roses were in and a piece of paper
 and sort of scooped him in.
Then placed the paper over top until I could rush him out.
It took me three tries because he jumped out twice.
And I didn't want to hurt him.
But he wasn't scared,
more curious.
I took him to the Succulent Garden next to my classroom 
and he hopped right onto a Jade Plant.
Home Sweet Home.
Phew Shuuuu.
Talk about a close call!

Friday, August 25, 2017


When will I learn my lesson,
to shoot my artwork before I put it under glass?
But oh my gosh,
 I had so much fun making it!
I followed along with Fiber Artist Laura Wasilowski from Artfabrik
on a wonderful Wool Stitch Along journey. 
But the framing of it was so painful.
 Once I got all those leaves/twigs, matt, & the eco-dyed fabric positioned just right,
and used the glass to keep it all in place so it wouldn't shift,
I didn't have the heart to pull it all apart to photograph it,
the glare.
And of course this frame didn't come with non-glare glass.
Those gorgeous multi-colored threads where so much richer than you see here.
Oh well.

I got this piece framed up to give as a gift to my son's girlfriend Nicole,
who I'm crazy about.
She just finished up her M.B.A. while working full time,
and my son and their friends had a party for her.
And they wanted me to come.
I was thrilled and wanted to give Nicole something I made that was special to me,
and that I thought she might enjoy.
I was so pleased that she liked it,
 and I can't wait to see where she will hang it in their home.
I picked out a piece of eco-dyed linen tablecloth to mount it to,
but of course it didn't show up well in this photo.
And I used a piece of recycled sweater wool to stitch upon.
I also picked out two multi colored pearle cottons that played nicely with each other.
Laura offers up several other kinds of Stitch Alongs
with each of the embroidery stitches clearly demonstrated.
I hope you get a chance to check out her site.

Thursday, August 24, 2017



I'm still here and kicking.
This is the start of my 38th year here at Whitney High School in Cerritos, Ca. teaching the Arts.
My home away from home.
Feels so good to get my classroom up and running again,
and to be blogging again for that matter.
I really slacked off this summer.
Too busy with other stuff like trying to loose weight,
eat only a whole foods plant based diet (this was really hard),
 read as many books as I could,
(averaged about 1 book every 2-3 days, my 2 favs Lilac Girls and The Nightingale)
working on the yard up at the cabin,
laying out in the sun (I'm brown as a berry as my mother used to say)
and sleeping!!
Barely turned on my computer for 2 months.

I'm really looking forward to my classes this year,
only 7 preps.

Beg. & Intermediate 2-D Art,
Ceramics I & II
Beg. & Int. 3-D Art,
my 7th Grade Art Wheel kiddos

So this is what my classroom looks like when it's all clean & shiny.
A very special thanks to our Custodial Crew for always making sure my room gets squeaky clean.
Check out those freshly washed and polished floors!
That's what I'm talking about  :)
So here's to another great year.!
I look forward to getting to know you all
and bringing out the artist in you!

Wednesday, August 23, 2017


clay, glazes & oxides

When I was in high school clay class (1972-4) and coil pots were taught,
all we were required to do was circle our coils around and around
and on top of each other.
So boring!!!
So I require the kids to come up with at least 2 other ways to work with the coils,
and repeat that in the design.
The results are always so very beautiful,
involving much finesse as they grow taller and taller.
(eight inches was the minimum height)

We begin with senior Eunice Shim who created this amazing eye-catching piece.
Not only is it a remarkably well balanced design,
 but the way she glazed it adds even more to it's beauty.
But man oh man,
did she struggle with it.
Because of her intricate design and shaping,
this was a much more advanced construction then she realized.
I believe it shattered at least 2-3 times before she could get it to come together.
And what I learned about Eunice is that she is not a quitter.
Every time it collapsed,
 she very carefully and patiently scored all the pieces back together again.
I'm so glad you hung in there Eunice,
this is such an important piece of art!

I really got a kick out of how senior Avanthi Dev ended her coil pot.
It reminded many of us of a crown.
I also really enjoyed how she choose to glaze it.
First staining it with Red Iron Oxide and dipping entire piece into Transparent glaze,
then brushing Rutile Oxide (yellow/orange) over top the balls to emphasize the crown.
Super cool piece Avanthi!

To work with these incredibly thin coils is extremely difficult 
(makes the piece prone to a variety of awful scenarios)
 but so worth the effort as senior Ashley Iseri did.
It also is more time consuming,
but the end result is so delicate and lovely!

I thought it was super cool how junior Vincent Nguyen
morphed his piece into branches and flowers around the top.
And the glazing really highlights the design as well.
A combination of staining with Red Iron and glazing with various colors.

Junior Renee Lin reached for the stars with her exceptionally tall form.
She really debated about how to finish it off.
I really liked her decision,
to dip into Transparent
 then brush splatter all 4 oxides over top.

I felt this next one by senior Brian Aguirre-Hernandez was especially unique.
He began with a triangle but ended in the round.
I also like that the lip is multi leveled,
and the subtle texture he brought into the middle area is eye-catching as well.
And check out how the glaze ends up balancing the design and pulling it all together.
Brilliant piece young man! 

Oh my,
what is youngster Sarah Oh, 
up to now?
This crazy wonderful child turned her piece into a lizard of sorts.
loving the subtle texture that looks paddled onto many of the coils,
and how cool to think to apply coils over top as well.
Of course the detail she sculptured into the face is fabulous.
We love you Sarah!!!!

We end with senior Lauren Kennedy.
I liked the S-curves that the form takes as she built it up,
as well as the repetition of balls,
 and how organic she made the piece feel.
Super nice job Lauren.
I look forward to hearing how you are enjoying art school in New York.
I hope you will keep in touch!

Tuesday, August 22, 2017


watercolor & felt tip 

This is the first large scale work these kids have done in watercolor 
on good quality paper (Arches 140 lb.)
 since learning to use this challenging medium in Beg. 2-D.
The assignment was to draw each other in 3/4 view,
then to watercolor their subject.
They could abstract the piece by changing up the color,
but they had to try to keep the drawn portrait as realistic as possible.
Let's see how a couple of them did.

We begin with senior Eileen Lee who created this portrait of junior Samantha Tun.
Eileen was inspired by several past works I had bought from alumni that were on display.
She gravitated to the ones that had used all the colors from the wheel.
This is an incredibly difficult way to proceed
but as I watched her work it just seemed to flow effortlessly from her. 
After the paint was dry she came over top of it with a thin felt tip marker,
not exactly outlining,
 but just letting the pen touch here and there with different pressures.
Lovely Eileen!

Senior Malaya Sithichai worked so delicately with her watercolor.
A big thing we talk about is keeping the paint transparent.
She also brought in a touch of felt tip.
I just wish my photo was better so you could see it more distinctly.
I really like how she abstracted senior Kevin Mao's hair 
by using blue to tie the piece together with the blue of the shirt.
Very nice likeness Mayala!

And we finish with senior Ayesha Durrani's watercolor of senior Jazzarie Lo.
Ayesha has such a wonderful imagination and enjoys building stories around her subjects. 
More work?
Extra Credit?
And so appreciated. 

All three of these seniors are off to study art this year in college.
I'm so very thankful that I had one more year with them before they flew away. 

Monday, August 21, 2017


graphite, watercolor accents, colored pencil accents, felt tip marker accents

I will always be honest with you here,
so let me tell you one of the least favorite assignments of my Art I kids 
is to draw on location,
 a corner of my room.
The reasoning behind this horrendous task
 is to allow the kids to practice and perfect their
Dr. Betty Edwards Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain Sighting skills.
Sighting is another way to teach perspective but way faster.
But the kids hate it because it requires them to use some left brained skills
involving rulers and measuring to get distance and correct angles.
But it's like any new global skill,
once they learn it they will always remember it and it becomes easy,
 like riding a bike.

In this first one,
11th grader Nara Choi took off like gangbusters
 because she knew she wanted to get to the watercolor and sparkly things.
The kids have a choice to draw exactly what they see happening on the walls and cabinets,
or to make something up to put into the corner.
Everyone loved Nara's finished piece,
the whimsy and color really made her work pop.

Sarah Oh, 
11th grader as well,
thoroughly got into the assignment too.
After she finished drawing with her pencil,
she brought in watercolor and pen & ink which made this work extra special.
Was color required?
just if you wanted to and if you had the time.
Do I give Extra Credit for going above and beyond?
You bethcha!

Here we have senior Cathy Huang with this very soft & delicate piece.
She chose to draw the area right above my teacher desk.
I really enjoyed how she captured the branch of Bougainvillea
that 2014 art student Alex Lee donated to the room several years back. 
And if you look very closely you will see a dragon sitting on top of the shelf on the right.
Cathy made that in her 8th or 9th grade year from her aluminum lunch wrappers,
and it's been there ever since.

I really enjoyed how senior Melissa Ongko turned my sink corner
into an ocean themed wonderland.
I'm pretty sure she used colored pencil but honestly I can't remember 
from this photo.  
Could have been watercolor too.
All's I know is that I really liked it!
Look closely at the texture see rubbed onto the walls.

One of my personal favorites was this one by junior Tiffany Chen.
As a child I always loved playing with miniatures,
I think we called them Tumbellina dolls.
I still have mine in hopes that my first granddaughter will play with it.
So I adored how she put the tiny girl atop the bird to fly thru the room to it's nest.
In fact,
there were many small,
cool details to find and explore.
I could totally see Tiffany building this magical journey 
into a children's book complete with illustrations.

And last but never least is upcoming superstar,
 8th grader Ashley Gong.
Just look at the energy and effort she brought to this work!
Wow Ashley,
this is powerful!
Bravo young woman  :)
and kudos to all of you who rose above this awful assignment
hee hee
I felt your pain since I also had to do this when I took Betty's class back in 1982.

Sunday, August 20, 2017


clay, oxides & melted glass shards

Besides this being a favorite of the kids
(they love the tactile feel of the clay),
it's also a project that works so well for me as an art teacher
that I've never discarded it in 38 years.
Let's take a look see.

We start with 8th grader Dylan Lin and his exceptional design.
So well thought out in both the masks design,
but also in how he finished it off with with oxides.
Bravo young man!

This cutie was done by 8th grader Loren Kim.
Everyone loved the sweet innocence she was able to capture in her piece.

And clever 12th grader Julie Ahn carved out the mouth area
 and was able to fill it with glass shards that melted during the last firing
to compliment and balance her flower over the eye area.
 the contrast between the red-browns and turquoises is quite lovely
and so is the contrast between the smooth and the textured areas.

11th grader Lynette Lee came up with this stunningly beautiful design
reminiscent of a Chinese dragons face.

And Jillian Morris was incredibly brave to pierce out the mouth and teeth area.
This is a very delicate procedure where only a surgeons touch will do.
Because the piece becomes very fragile where the upper and lower jaw connects
(the thinness of the connection)
and will most likely crack during the making or the firing of the piece.
I also was very impressed with how she used her oxides.

I found the texture that 12th grader Daphne Wang was able to bring into this work
was extremely visually pleasing to the eye.  
My eye also loved that carved out area on the left where she inlay-ed the tiny balls.
Fantastic work Daph!

This next one belongs to English teacher Donna Hall.
Donna spent a lot of hours agonizing over her design,
as well as in the execution of it.
It was much loved and praised by all!
In fact our Principal John Briquelet was so taken with it 
that he insisted it be hung in his office. 
Donna told him he could have it until she retires in 5 years.
ha ha

One of my personal favorites was this one created by Couch Milan.
Not only did it appeal to my fussy sense of craftsmanship,
but I loved the slight asymmetry of it
 and of course the way he used his oxides.
And the special treat of melted dark red glass shards in the lower right ear is very pleasing.