Specialty art paper for MJS

Art Teacher Kate Gebstaedt used the specialty velvet paper in her grant award to help her students create very special snakes! Here's her report... 

"Now that the snakes are nearing completion, please accept a hearty thank you from the 6th graders at MJS who are taking art first semester.  Our process has been rigorous: verbal analysis of our subject, the snake; small thumbnail sketches of the coiled snake to help us get to know our subject through drawing; large rough drafts on newsprint that required us to copy and enlarge our initial sketches; transferring the enlarged final drawing to the velvet paper; and, finally, coloring with special crayons to embellish our drawings with beautiful snakeskin designs.

I would like to share a few specific things that happened along the way.  First, although I described to students (and showed) how the snake assignment evolved from large snakes on white paper to large snakes on black construction paper, the students were audibly “wowed” when I pulled out the first sheets of black velvet!  Everyone wanted to touch the paper, of course, and the enthusiasm for the assignment was definitely bumped up a notch after that.

I also described the process through which I was able to purchase the paper and crayons, and I told the students the paper and crayons were expensive – something I could not have afforded to buy without the MEF Grant.  I told them all about the MEF’s work, and how important it was to use our supplies wisely; just one piece of paper per person!  I also told them both you and I were counting on them to do good work!

There was a moment during one of the many 6th grade snake classes that was probably my favorite.  I had quietly panicked about how the students could possibly transfer their drawings to the black velvet paper – the usual graphite rub would be useless on velvet.  I did a lot of experimenting to come up with what I thought was at least a somewhat practical solution – a chalk rubbing!  It was clumsy and more than a little messy, but it worked.  As I was demonstrating, I happened to mention to the class that they should hold off on putting their names on the back of the velvet – for some reason their names would show through to the front of the velvet, but backwards!  'But, Ms. Gebstaedt,' one student said.  'Then we can just trace our snakes on the back of the velvet and the drawing will come through to the front!'  That turned out to be our transfer method - neat, clean and easy.  I am grateful to Pratik for his wisdom!"