Thursday, January 14, 2010

Residency for Laurel Highlands High School

I am working for my 9th year with Mr. Michael DeFazio, this year at Laurel Highlands High School. The grant this year for the residency program was designated as a 60 day residency with stimulus funding provided through the PA Council on the Arts. Twelve schools in PA were selected for this program.

Mike did some of the leg work on collecting supplies for our first project finding scrap glass from Youghigheny Glass, located in Connellsville PA. Youghigheny Glass has provided us in the past with glass that we have used in large and small scale mosaics. Mike and several students volunteered their time to collect about 800 pounds of glass of varied colors and quality. I am sure that the suspension system of his van was buckling under the weight of the glass. Mike also pre-cut OSB board so that each student had a good surface to create their individual mosaics.

The first three classes in the morning are Art 1 and most of the students in those classes sanded edges of the boards and we applied Kilz paint for a workable surface. In our Advanced Class and Ceramics we approached the mosaics a little bit differently. All students started with thumbnail sketches and upon approval from either Mike or myself were then able to start selecting glass. The Advanced Class was a little further ahead since they had done a similar project last year.

In our Ceramics classes we actually made our own clay tile pieces and will use the glass intermittently in our designs. We used mostly Amaco and Mayco glazes along with white and mocha clay. To save a little time and since these are decorative and not functional, we actually single fired our pieces. We simply skipped the bisque process. In this process, the students worked in teams cutting and creating tiles that were more or less a community effort.

I am working at the school 4 days a week and will continue into the beginning of May. Upcoming projects after the mosaic works will include watercolor, drawing and our final HUGE projects will be metal sculpture pieces to be kept permanently in the newly renovated courtyard at the school. It is always a pleasure to work with Mike and I am sure we will make and install some wonderful pieces!

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