last week was a quiet one for me, it was a time of reflection so I spent my days reading poetry and having a play with my own Blackout Poetry.
So, what is Blackout Poetry? This style of Poetry requires you to have an old book and a marker pen. You then find a page within that book and begin to circle words you like. Once you have picked your words (or small sentences) you blackout the rest of the page, leaving the circled words to form a short poem. This is a beautiful and simple way of introducing someone to poetry, using it in Art sessions and for TEFL teachers who want to make their vocabulary lessons more creative. Marker pens are not the only equipment you can use, you can opt to include Biro pens of different colours, paint, crayon and collage art to Blackout your pages, the ideas are endless.
I was going to buy a book from a charity shop (so that I don’t destroy my own books), but by chance someone had left a few books by the side of the road, (I’m guessing in the hope individuals might pick them up?) and I had seen they left a dogeared copy of “The Witch of Portobello” by Paulo Coelho in this pile of books, I read this novel years ago and loved it, so it was destiny to have this disheveled tome and so I took it home.
Here are a few samples of Blackout Poetry I have created so far. I hope to complete the entire book and perhaps leave it somewhere for someone else to find as a public art piece or as a gift to inspire them to take up Blackout Poetry or do something else with it entirely? What I love about this form of poetry is how nonsensical it is, it really allows you to be playful with the English language and tap into your inner child, it is perhaps a great activity to do with children too.
I start by wrapping coloured ribbon around the hoop. If the hoop is smaller & thicker I tend to wrap wool around it instead. I then glue parts of it in place to prevent it from unraveling as I continue to wrap the fabric round the hoop.
Once secured, I choose to create a basic web, adding beads as I go or use wool to tie a vintage doily in the centre to give the dream catcher a bohemian, shabby chic look.
So after that, with the glue gun I glue ribbons, string and lace to the bottom of the dream catcher, this is in place of feathers. You can include feathers but for me they get damaged really easily and you can make your own using plastic or cardboard. Charms can also be tied to the bottom with the ribbons to make it personal to the person you are gifting the dream catcher too.
The dream catcher above includes a Bulgarian vintage lace doily and will have less beading tied to it and the dream catcher below is smaller with a thicker hoop and will be very bead heavy. I hope to start up an etsy shop in the new year to take custom orders and eventually develop my style.
This post is a very basic “how to” but I hope to create a step by step guide soon and will be teaching dream catcher workshops alongside yoga sessions for kids, teens & adults! Watch this space!
I planned this children’s book for my Nephew a few years ago, I started working on it soon after my first book “Bella likes to Laugh” which I created for Jon’s Niece. However my life gradually became busier and I had to work on other projects and commitments. When I made the first book I was unemployed, looking for work as I had just moved to Plymouth and finding arty projects to keep me busy. I had plenty of time on my hands to make Bella’s book but with Harry’s book it kind of had to take a back seat.
Now I can focus on finishing it as I am nearing the end of my professional development and training, my Resume is looking fantastic with wonderful work experience and my current art projects are easy to juggle. Harry’s book will include more illustrations and slightly advanced text because he is now 6 years old. The chosen language for him to learn is Spanish and I want the entire book to feel like Harry has already had his hands on it with crayon scribbles, finger marks and mud appearing on the pages because Harry loves nature and being out getting muddy in the great outdoors. The framework will be a timeline with illustrations of him as a baby right up to when his sister Darcy was born. I am just so glad I can finally work on this book once more and I hope to have it finished and published by Christmas.
I will not be making any more personalized children’s books, both mine and Jon’s sisters have had another baby each, and whilst it would be nice to make our nieces Darcy and Nicole a book as well and perhaps do the same for friends children, to be honest I really can not be bothered. Making the Bella and Harry books are painfully slow and monotonous, the whole process of making a set of illustrations from photocopies of photos using tracing paper is so tedious. Plus I really want to focus more on my illustrated poetry book (which I hope to be published with Amazon) and keep on making dream catchers.
The poetry book is a lovely ongoing project I can work on when I am inspired or a poem jumps into my head and dream catchers can be made on a rainy afternoon. This is where I am at artistically, only wanting to make things for the simple pleasure of crafting or if I am paid to teach/create a workshop or piece for clients.
These images are a sneak peak as to how Harry’s book will look and feel, with about 30 main illustrations plus drawings of wildlife and plant life will be added to compliment the sketches of Harry on his adventures. I hope you like them?
Alongside setting up my kids yoga classes I mentioned I also intend on teaching art activities too, so the entire workshop will last for two hours every week (or fortnightly). The kids would spend about an hour doing yoga games and then finish the session with creating art. Dream catcher making is something I hope to include in this idea, probably for the tweenagers as it is a little bit tricky teaching younger kids how to make something so intricate and delicate (as well as teaching them to take care of something so fragile), especially when I have no intention of including parents in my classes because I personally don’t want my workshop to feel over crowded by overbearing mums fussing over their children. Sometimes it is nice for kiddos to have a rest from their parents too.
This is the reason why my target pupils will be tweenagers so I can bond with them as a teacher and friend, so I can be on their wave length and so that they feel free to talk to me without their parent cramping their style. I also feel like with the younger kids (6-10) the art activities and even the yoga will be simpler, centred around messy art rather than actually crafting something. We shall see, I have so many ideas but I do think teaching yoga-dance plus a dream-catcher workshop to tween girls will be a big hit.
I do love dream catchers, and these ones I am currently making are purely for personal enjoyment and as gifts for friends & family. It’s been a while since I have done something for the simple pleasure of it, everything I’ve done has been for a purpose related to my career and whilst I have enjoyed building up my career, it is nice sometimes to just do something for merriment. I have thought about potentially starting up an etsy shop to sell dream-catchers but I don’t want to take on too many projects right now. I’m a budding freelance yoga teacher to kids, I’m a writer, artist and a Belly Dance and soon to be yoga teacher to adults (2017). So once I’ve set up my business webpage, and I am teaching classes to kids and I’ve finished my last three training courses I will look more deeply into selling my art. I hope you like the two dream catchers I’ve made so far.
After my yoga session and the Fantasticats collage activity with the young learners at the language school, the kids had half an hour to spare and wanted to colour in some Mandalas.These are great to have in a folder for “just in case” moments. Just in case kids arrive to class too early, just in case your yoga session finishes early, just in case some kids don’t want to join in with the main activity and prefer to sit alone, just in case you have forgotten art materials for the primary activity and so on, you can just whip out some Mandala templates and children absolutely love them!
One little boy in the group at Language in Totnes, didn’t want to play football and he was constantly being left out of group game activities because he gets frustrated & angry when he doesn’t shoot a goal. This time round he decided not to participate and sat in the grass, he looked fed up and told me he was bored. I asked him if he’d prefer to colour in a Mandala using my very special pencil crayons. He smiled and said “Thank you” and began colouring in his picture, even as it started to rain. The art activity calmed him down and made him feel valued and included even though he wasn’t in the group dynamic. Having awareness of the situation and the therapeutic power of art enabled me to change the situation from a negative experience to a positive one. I reported back to his Japanese group leader that this little boy has an artistic flare as it seems to calm him down, she thanked me and said she will find coloring books for him to concentrate on when he feels frustrated.
Mandalas are great and simple activities to bring to a class, they are very meditative and soothing. The whole class was quiet and very focused on trying to finish off their picture. This is a great tool to have within an art therapy session too.
Here are some funky mandala books to buy that you can keep reusing by scanning & printing out the pages:
Magic Mandalas Colouring Book
Mindful Little Me: Mandala Coloring Book For Kids
Color Me Calm Mandalas for Kids
Here are some free templates from the Internet:
Mandala coloring page for kids