Project: Middle Ages History & Fashion

Blog, She Wrote: Project- Middle Ages History & Fashion

This post contains affiliate links. Thanks always for your support!

This year our 8th grader, Rebecca, has been working through history with an emphasis on fashion. She researches the history of fashion during that time period and then designs her own garments. During her study of the Middle Ages, Rebecca worked on two separate fashions- one from the early Middle Ages and another from later in the same period.

Blog, She Wrote: Project- Middle Ages History & Fashion

Research on Middle Ages History & Fashion

I’ve had fun looking for resources on the fashion of different time periods of history. Rebecca loves to explore and construct the most authentic garments.

Blog, She Wrote: Project- Middle Ages History & Fashion

The Pattern Drafting Process

How does she go about making a dress from an idea?

  • Using her research, Rebecca comes up with an overall vision for a garment.
  • She sketches the dress starting with the basic shape and adding details.
  • As she chooses her design, she considers construction techniques and does more research and/or watches tutorials
  • Then it’s time to measure the doll and begin drawing the patterns.

Need help on learning to draft patterns? I shared our resources in Rebecca’s Steampunk Project post.

Blog, She Wrote: Project- Middle Ages History & Fashion

Constructing the Garment

I admire her bravery! Her skills are confident and she’ll try something new with no hesitation.

  • Use authentic fabric if possible- though I have to say she did not enjoy working with the wool.
  • Use a serger- If you have a serger, you can use it to finish the seams before putting the pieces together. If not, then be sure to finish the seams carefully.
  • Frequently read tutorials- Rebecca spends a lot of time learning by reading sewing blogger tutorials. It’s free and it’s a great way to learn on your own! Her Kindle Fire is usually by her side when she is working on something so she can refer back to the tutorial easily.

Blog, She Wrote: Project- Middle Ages History & Fashion

Facts on Middle Ages Fashion

Rebecca uncovered some interesting details in her research of Middle Ages Fashion. Here are a few:

  • During the 13th century tunics were the base of all outfits.
  • Cloaks were a staple of the Middle Ages and worn over the tunic.
  • Children wore the same basic style in smaller sizes.
  • The longer your garments and cloaks, the more money you had. Peasants wore short length garments.
  • During the 14th century waist lines rose and women’s clothing became more fitted – some sleeves were so tight they had to be stitched together once on!
  • The 15th century showed the empire waist being popular.
  • Men’s garment length was shortening while lady’s lengths were increasing.

Rebecca chose to make a gown in keeping with 15th century fashion. The collar is made of “fur” and forms a V that goes to the waist and it has a thick belt which was popular at the time.

Blog, She Wrote: Project- Middle Ages History & Fashion

Reading List for the Middle Ages

Along with her research in fashion, she spent time immersed in both fiction and non-fiction titles about the same time period. A brief list of the titles she’s read include:

Some of these titles chronicle the end of the Roman Empire and the Dark Ages that followed.

Studying fashion and learning how these garments were made and put together is a great way to focus on one aspect of history. Rebecca has had a very focused year and it’s been great for building her sewing project portfolio. She’s learned a lot of techniques which are useful for full sized fashions.

I’m looking forward to sharing two of her latest projects with you soon. She has a fashion due this week for a local contest. Rebecca is hoping to do well enough to make it into the fashion show. Stay tuned!

Celebrate Spring with Hodgepodge Art!

Blog, She Wrote: Celebrate Spring with Hodgepodge Art

This post contains affiliate links. Thanks for your support!

Happy Spring! The weather in upstate NY has been seasonably cold this winter and we are ready for warmer weather. Around here though, you have to wait for that. Consistently lovely days don’t arrive until May. In the meantime, we enjoy the few special nice days we get and we turn our attention to the coming of spring. What better way to celebrate than with some spring art with nature study? We took some time enjoy more of Hodgepodge’s art tutorials using A Seasonal Start in Spring Chalk Pastels.

Chalk Pastels Are for The Whole Family

One of the things I love about Tricia and Nana’s art is that all of our kids can enjoy the projects from younger to older and from art challenged to art gifted. Chalk is a very forgiving medium and even my 10th grader, who doesn’t enjoy art, has a good time and is pleased with his results.

Blog, She Wrote: Celebrate Spring with Hodgepodge Art

Tools for Chalk Pastel Art

You don’t need much to get started. Here’s our list.

  • Chalks- we use a set from the local craft store. I bought two since we have four kids. Less sharing is required that way. I like to ease stress during art times!
  • Paper towels- damp ones too (baby wipes work but we don’t have those around anymore and no…I don’t still buy them!)
  • Mats- something to work the art on so you don’t worry about the table. If you are a worrier about tables where art is concerned.
  • Paper- I really like the sulphite drawing paper from Discount School Supply. It can handle wet and dry media.

Bonus Item: Not necessary for the success of your time with the chalks, but you need something to read along with the tutorial.

  • Kindle Fire- or another tablet on which to view your tutorial. I used my laptop in the past, but the Fire takes less space and is easy for all the kids to see.

Blog, She Wrote: Celebrate Spring with Hodgepodge Art

Acrylic Art Challenge Included

According to Tricia, Nana wanted to add some challenging assignments for the art experts among us. I’m so glad she did! The assignment is for a spring tree in acrylic and my daughter took the challenge. This is a fabulous activity for kids who want to take their art to the next level. Here are some of her results:

Blog, She Wrote: Celebrate Spring with Hodgepodge Art

Blog, She Wrote: Celebrate Spring with Hodgepodge Art

Tools for Working with Acrylic Art

Here are a few things we’ve gathered as we’ve begun to work with acrylic paints. This is not an exhaustive list, but it is what Rebecca has asked for which she has put to good use!

  • Acrylic paints- I’ve always used craft acrylics, but the art acrylics are thicker and more vibrant. Lovelier all around! We have the three primary colors plus a dark and light green.
  • Palette- Rebecca asked for one and it’s been a well used tool for her.
  • Brushes- A must! I’ve always had a variety of sizes and types from a large assorted package, but artsy girl asked for open stock, quality brushes for Christmas and we delivered. I hit a 60% off sale in December and stocked up. Wow! What a difference a brush can make!
  • Canvas- Tricia uses the canvas board, but we’ve enjoyed using stretched canvas in the large packs.

Blog, She Wrote: Celebrate Spring with Hodgepodge Art

Blog, She Wrote: Celebrate Spring with Hodgepodge Art

Color Mixing & Brush Technique for Acrylic Art

One of the best parts of this project was the color mixing! It was just a few sentences of directions from Nana that tell your student how to mix up a nice gray for the walkway and the brown for the tree trunks.

The messier, the better as far as Rebecca is concerned and mixing her own colors and shades was part of the joy.

After mixing the colors, Nana mentions the magic of using a brush in a particular way. Your student gets to test it out while putting down layers of the painting. Fabulous results! There’s a bonus technique when it comes to the dogwood blossoms. Wait until you see that fun!

Blog, She Wrote: Celebrate Spring with Hodgepodge Art

Blog, She Wrote: Celebrate Spring with Hodgepodge Art

Blog, She Wrote: Celebrate Spring with Hodgepodge Art

Blog, She Wrote: Celebrate Spring with Hodgepodge Art

A Seasonal Start in Spring Chalk Pastels Giveaway & Purchase

You can get your own copy of A Seasonal Start in Spring Chalk Pastels for only $7.99. What a price for endless art fun! Rebecca will often sit down to Hodgepodge tutorials on her own to learn and practice. It’s been a quality investment for our art school. If you haven’t tried any of the Seasonal Starts, you can purchase the bundle for $19.99.

Tricia has graciously offered three copies of A Seasonal Start in Spring Chalk Pastels to give away! Please use the Rafflecopter below to enter. The drawing will end next Saturday, March 29, 2014.

Celebrate Spring with Art for All Ages!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tips for Botanical Illustrating

Blog, She Wrote: Tips for Botanical Illustrating

This post contains affiliate links. Thanks for your support!

We had the distinct pleasure recently of attending a workshop on botanical illustrating through our 4-H Plant & Environmental Science committee. Rebecca loves to draw plants in her journals and has been honing her talents. The workshop was a fun way to reinforce skills she’s been working at on her own.

Botanical Illustrating Has a Long History

Our artist instructor shared reminders about people drawing plants throughout history. We know that Lewis & Clark took with them naturalists and they themselves kept extensive journals on their journey west in 1804.

She also mentioned that Charles Darwin drew many pictures of plant life during his infamous sail aboard the HMS Beagle.

In addition, Beatrix Potter is well known to have been a natural scientist and an illustrator of the natural world in addition to writing stories for children.

Blog, She Wrote: Tips for Botanical Illustrating

An Artist’s Advice for Drawing Plants for Botanical Illustrations

Botanical illustrators are still needed to provide detail that a photograph may not easily reveal. Cross sections are drawings because the artist can render an accurate image of the many layers of detail in the plant. So, how do you approach making a botanical drawing?

  • Pay attention to detail not the plant’s surroundings.
  • Box off quadrants of the plants and focus on drawing the shape of one quadrant at a time.
  • Notice and draw individual shapes not the plant as a whole which will lead to the best accuracy of the specimen.

Blog, She Wrote: Tips for Botanical Illustrating

Opportunities for Illustrating Plants

Need a reason to draw the plants you find?

  • Keep a garden journal and draw the various stages of growth.
  • Illustrate your leaf collection.
  • Improve your nature journaling by drawing the plants you see on a walk.
  • Collect for your nature table and draw what you find.

Rebecca has already requested one garden upgrade for this next season and she’s working it out with Dan. They are going to make a cement table top from the directions in The Family Handyman. Before the slab sets, she will draw plant designs into the cement. It’s going to make a fantastic garden table. She can hardly wait to sit out there in the warm weather to observe the garden and do her school work outdoors!

Blog, She Wrote: Tips for Botanical Illustrating

Resources for Botanical Illustrating

We enjoyed a look at some of these books. I added a few of my own discoveries on the topic. Pick them up at the library for an added bonus to your nature journaling.

Tools for Botanical Illustrating

Where art is concerned I prefer to provide the best tools we can afford. It’s frustrating to any budding or seasoned artist to work with inferior implements. I’ve also noticed the better the tools, the better the results.

  • Drawing pencils- not just your ordinary #2 pencil, but a set of drawing pencils ranging from soft to hard. Rebecca recently got her first set and it’s made a big difference in her ability to shade. With this being her first try with them, we went with a modest priced set.
  • Watercolor Pencils- Our favorite moderately priced sets are the Prang pencils. They have thick color and you can use them in a variety of ways. Have you ever seen Harmony Art Mom’s Watercolor Pencil 101 Tutorials? This post opened up some new ways of using the medium. It’s a must view!
  • Colored Pencils- We use Prismacolor pencils for our art projects. They lay down the color so nicely and they are worth the investment if you take care of them.
  • Pencil Sharpener- I like the Prismacolor sharpener because it is kind to the expensive pencils!
  • Watercolor Paper- Nothing beats water color paper for when you are using this medium. I find it helps to take in the water and leave the pigment nice and brilliant in the finished product.
  • Sketch Book- Rebecca loves the smaller sketch books with a hard cover and thicker pages for use with wet or dry media. The hard cover lets her sketch out on the trail which is a favorite past time for her.

Blog, She Wrote: Tips for Botanical Illustrating

Plant & Flower Anatomy and Taxonomy

Before we drew our botanical illustrations, we were given a review of plant anatomy. Understanding the various plant parts and where they come together is important for making an accurate drawing with labels.

Floral formulas help to identify what family the flower is in- is it a rose? A lily? Orchid? Flowers have a certain number of petals (corolla) and sepals (calyx) along with the reproductive parts- the stamen (andrecium) and pistol (gynecium). Of course floral formulas only apply to angiosperms (flowering plants). Do you remember the taxonomic name of non flowering plants like conifers and ferns?

Blog, She Wrote: Tips for Botanical Illustrating

Botanical illustrating is a great way to combine art and biology. Of course, as children grow, their skills will change. Not all of my children love to sketch, but they have all done it. I find that Rebecca can be very inspiring to her brothers and she will often take them out on excursions or rope them into helping her collect. Enjoy these resources and get ready…spring is right around the corner, right?

Homeschooling Middle & High School Fine Arts

Blog, She Wrote: Homeschooling Middle & High School Fine Arts

This post contains affiliate links. Thanks for your support!

We’ve made it to Day 5 of the iHomeschool Network’s Winter Hopscotch 2014. Today’s topic is homeschooling middle & high school fine arts.

Strategies for Homeschooling Middle & High School Fine Arts

Fine Art is likely some of our kids’ least favorite subject as a teacher, but our 8th grader is a lovely creative soul who challenges and delights us in this area of our homeschool. We use a variety of methods to teach fine arts.

  • Homeschool Co-op Our family participates in a co-op that meets for two hours for 10 Mondays during the fall and spring semesters. It’s a low key co-op which focuses on the extras over the academics. So, we have art and music classes offered there quite a bit. Below are some examples of classes my kids have taken at co-op.
  • Choir- We have a homeschool choir that meets through co-op and our 8th grader joined my husband in our adult church choir. It’s a four part + choir which meets weekly and presents challenging music.
  • Guitar- Our 10th grader took a beginning guitar class at co-op last semester and has taken video courses at home.
  • Dulcimer- Our 6th grader made a dulcimer last fall and plays it. Such a great class taught by our pastor at homeschool co-op. Click the link (in the text or picture below) to see I11 play his dulcimer.
  • Art Classes- There is always an art class offered by talented parents.
  • Offering Supplies- We keep our supplies topped off and make ample time available for their use. They get used a lot, but mostly by our daughter who loves to try out things and learn new techniques.

Blog, She Wrote: Homeschooling Middle & High School Fine Arts

While co-op does not meet enough to meet the requirement by itself, the classes enhance what we do at home to round things out. At home we offer basic music theory and art lessons. For high school graduation only one credit of fine arts is required and our 10th grader is opting for art to fill the requirement and we’ll do that over the four years in high school- about a 1/4 per year.

Our Favorite Curriculum & Resources for Middle & High School Fine Arts

We have some great resources for teaching fine arts at home. Some are long time favorites and others are new to us.

  • Five in a Row- Literature unit study program which has lovely, very accessible art lessons.
  • Harmony Fine Arts- We use everything from Barb’s tutorials and blog posts to her curriculum for various ages and stages. What makes it all the more special is that we’ve met Barb and our daughter adored their time together. We still talk about how much they had in common in the art and nature world!
  • HodgePodge- Of course we love Tricia and Nana’s chalk tutorials! Accessible and fun and a soothing part of the day any time you pull them out.
  • Artistic Pursuits- We have one of the middle school years and I like to use them with Harmony Fine Art units.
  • Craftsy, YouTube- And other websites like blogs which offer tutorials are places where our kids will go to learn a new skill. My 13yo loves to read for this sort of information and try it out.

Blog, She Wrote: Homeschooling Middle & High School Fine Arts

Thank you for reading this series on Homeschooling Middle & High School. Please subscribe to Blog, She Wrote so you won’t miss any content!

Join other iHN bloggers to see how they approach fine arts instruction in their homeschools.


Autumn Book & a Big Idea: The Pumpkin Book

Blog, She Wrote: Autumn & a Big Idea The Pumpkin Book

This post contains affiliate links. Thanks for your support!

Today I’m joining the iHomeschool Network in a new blog hop on autumn themed books with some big ideas. I’ve chosen one of my favorite autumn books, The Pumpkin Book by Gail Gibbons.

Autumn & Pumpkin Resources

  • Autumn Book List- from a past post a great book list for elementary aged kids on fall and pumpkins.
  • Mini Fall Unit: Leaves & Pumpkins- this is a post from my first year of blogging in 2007. What a fun find as I chose content for this post! You’ll find an autumn book list along with a list of activities we did that year. Pardon the old time formatting that goes with a blog post from 6 years ago.
  • Pumpkin Unit- with the book Pumpkin Jack. I loved this unit from Homeschool Share. I especially love the science of measuring and weighing the pumpkins.

Blog, She Wrote: Autumn & a Big Idea The Pumpkin Book

The Pumpkin Book as a Resource to Learn about Pumpkins

  • Shares the story of a pumpkin from seed to pumpkin
  • Shows different varieties of pumpkins – all shapes and sizes
  • Tells the story of where Jack-o-Lanterns came from
  • Reviews the history of pumpkins and how the Native Americans used them- particularly in agriculture.
  • Detailed illustrations to enjoy as you read the book

Autumn Art Ideas with Pumpkins

all chalk pastelsEnjoy your own set of tutorials, including videos on chalk pastels. In addition to the fall projects, Hodgepodge has released the new Christmas chalk pastels ebook. I can hardly wait to share these projects with you. You can purchase your own fall chalk pastels for $3.95 or the Christmas book for $4.99. The seasonal bundle is only $12.99.