Last Thursday evening was ArtEscape at Abington Library with the 6-10 year olds. We read one of my all time favorite books Wabi Sabi with illustrations from illustrator, Ed Young. The link is under my What I'm Reading list over <---- there
Yes, definitely a challenging concept to share with American kids. So my mission was simply to expose them to the idea, enjoy how much fun it is to say "Wabi Sabi", show them where Japan is. We talked through the book about the different concepts and they made accordian fold books with a collaged scene inside with a animal cut out. The book orientation was vertical so it was a challenging shape for them to work within but they enjoyed it. I had one completed sample and quickly put together another one as we talked.
Here's what we did ...
For the book:
Wallpaper strips. You can get the discontinued books of wallpaper at your local stores (cut 5" x 18" or whatever the height of your book is)
Colored Tissue Paper
old book pages
Animals cut from magazines and old books
Glue, Scissors (although I encouraged them to tear the papers)
Optional but fun: a chop or rubber stamp and red ink pad
Small pieces of lined notebook paper: 1 cut into 4"x3" (approx) for interior text (haiku)
and 1 cut 1" by 3" (approx) for the book title
After reading and discussing the book a bit, I pointed out that this was an unusual shape to work in but that they could add loads of landscape elements all piled on top of each other. I also demonstrated overlapping and encouraged them to glue down some of the text papers and then use the tissue on top, pointing out that the text is still visible since the tissue is transluscent (a big word, I used "see-through"). I also encouraged them to go crazy with the tissue (use the glue stick on the book base and NOT on the tissue, as the tissue will tear easily).
The collage should be done on the back of the wallpaper. This will give them an automatic front and back cover with the front of the wallpaper. Have them lay the paper down with the nice side up, fold in half and then fold each end down to the bottom fold. Do this first and then the collage on the white side of the wallpaper. They don't need to worry about keeping the sides of the collage neat. After the artwork is finished, they can fold the book in half and trim three sides with scissors for a neat finish.
The Haiku or just some words indicating contrast were added to the looseleaf and glued down.
When their pieces were done, they got to use my Chop Set (which is the symbol for Truth) as a signature. They liked that ALOT. And I had some Washi tape for them to fasten their title (written on the 1"x3" paper) to the cover. Very nice touch. I also suggested that they put the title in the upper left-ish side of the cover. It would have been fun (but way to confusing) to have them work right to left.
Remember ... I have 28 kids for one hour. With more time, we would have worked more on the haiku, spent more time brainstorming on Wabi Sabi and certainly would have had more time with the artwork but they all finished!
Hauling my art cart back upstairs to leave, I see that it was dark out. Summer is winding down and the days are getting shorter. Wabi Sabi: I am sorry to see the sun had set but excited about the new season starting.
It was also wildly raining with thunder and lightning. After getting my load in the car, I was drenched and the car felt warm and safe. Wabi Sabi.
So in the days, weeks, months ahead, I'd like to hold onto that. Notice the cool air on my bare feet as I sit on the porch in the evenings listening the crickets slower song. The soft sunset colors over the harsh architecture of the city.
The magic that leaks into and out of the flaws in an imperfect vessel made by an imperfect person in a glorious world full of contrast.
I'd like to put together a more complicated version for adults. It would make a very nice class, Yes? With suminagashi and orizomegami papers and other beautiful Japanese papers for the collage parts. And perhaps a bit of sumi-e painting. Oh yes.