Summer PD at the Appalachian Craft Center

            Are you looking for a summer PD opportunity where you can make art alongside your students, meet amazing art teachers from all over TN, and learn new techniques from incredible skilled artists all week long? Then, you need to check out the Appalachian Center for Craft’s High School Summer Art Intensive in Smithville, TN! I went for the first time this summer and I only wish I would have went sooner! It is only for high school, but if you teach another grade level, don’t tune out just yet, just skip ahead and check out the bookmaking trick I learned that is sure clever.

            As a high school teacher, you can take two of your students to this intensive. I picked my favorites, duh! Just kidding! I chose two students who were adventurous, responsible, respectful, and hungry to learn more about art! We chose to do glass and fibers, but metals and wood were other options. We also got to take shorter night classes in blacksmithing, bookmaking, and screen printing. Most of these mediums were new to us and that’s what made it so incredible! Seeing your students take risks and get outside of their comfort zone is so rewarding and fun!

            In glass, we worked in both the hot shop and cold shop. We were all pretty nervous about handling fire, but it quickly subsided under the care and instruction of our amazing teachers! We made tons of stuff including sun catchers, pendants, paper weights, flowers, and bowls. My favorite was blowing the glass to create suck bowls. Sounds strange, but they certainly didn’t suck. My students loved it and one of them is now interested in studying glass!

            In fibers, we worked with Shibori techniques. We tried our hand at various ways of folding, scrunching, twisting, wrapping, and even hand stitching the fabric before dipping in the beautiful indigo dye. It is definitely a process you can do in your classroom and the students love the results! It really is like magic seeing the cloth transform!

            We got to attend these classes all week and as a result, made some incredible new friends from all over TN. (Shout out to the peeps from Craigmont High in Memphis who were in our group!) Each night, there was also a different class in a different medium. My favorite was bookmaking. Claudia Lee let us in on a secret she uses for punching the holes. You use a box and mark the width of one of your signatures as it is opened and held against a corner of the box. Punch the pre-marked holes with a needle tool, allowing it to poke all the way through the cardboard. As each signature is lined up with your marks on the box, you can punch the holes in the same spot by not only seeing it, but also feeling it go through the holes in the box from the previous signature. Clever, right?!

            I hope you enjoy the pictures of our experience and will check it out for yourself! Here is the link for more info. https://www.tntech.edu/craftcenter/outreach/hs-art-intensives

You and your students will have a blast and you will get in some quality PD points. Win, win! Feel free to email me any questions about this opportunity and experience at andreah2@wcs.edu. Happy summer!