Tuesday, October 9, 2018

School Auction Projects 2017-2018

Hi! Yikes--it has been almost a year since my last post. Blogging has taken a backseat to a lot of other stuff that is going on in my life this year, and I'm not sure if I'll ever come back to it in earnest. But there are some things I'd like to post about from the past year before I forget about them.

Let's start with the school auction projects that I worked on from September 2017 through February 2018. Last school year, I volunteered to be the class art project coordinator for our school auction. I had originally intended to only do a project for Felix's kindergarten class, but then five other classes didn't have any parent volunteers, so (inspired by all of my newfound free time now that Felix was in kindergarten full time) I made the possibly ill-advised decision to help with all of their projects too! I'm definitely not going to do that again this year, but it was nice to be involved with so many different classes.

Here are the projects, in order of least to most money raised at auction:

Fifth grade reusable shopping bags

Auction Project: Kid Art Grocery Bags

Inspired by Nina Chakrabarti's contour drawings, I brought in interesting-looking food/kitchen items and had the kids draw 3-5 items with thin Sharpie on white paper. I then scanned the drawings and selected the best 1-2 drawings per kid and turned them into fabric on Spoonflower, with the kids' signatures along the edges of the fabric. I ordered one yard of Kona cotton with this print and used it to make two Bijou Lovely market totes (I was able to use 1/2 yard of the fabric for each tote by using my base fabric for the handles too). I used a canvas-weight cotton-linen blend for the lining, base, and handles.

When the bags were done, I asked the class parents to donate their favorite non-perishable grocery items to put in the bags to make them a little more appealing at auction.

If I did this project again, I would have the kids make their drawings larger to ensure the resolution was sufficient for printing. But I probably wouldn't do this one again, given the amount of effort it took versus how much money it raised. It just wasn't a very exciting end product.

Cost of supplies: $50. Sold for $100.

First grade paper butterfly wall art

Auction Project: First Grade Paper Butterflies

Inspired by lots of Pinterest searching. I had the kids do scrape painting on smallish pieces of lightweight cardstock with acrylic paint and screenprinting paint (I used 98lb cardstock, each sheet cut into six pieces). When the paint was dry, I used a butterfly art punch to cut out one butterfly shape per student (with a few extras added in that I had painted), then I glued the middle of each butterfly onto my backing paper (heavy watercolor paper) using Elmer's extra-strong white glue. I gently folded the wings up and put the art in a 9x9-inch IKEA Ribba shadowbox frame with the mat removed. I had each student sign their name, and I scanned those to make a little chart showing which kid made which butterfly. I glued this onto the back of the frame.

I had enough leftover painted paper to make a similar piece of art for the teacher too.

I liked this project--it was pretty easy to put together. And now that I have the butterfly punch and paints, it wouldn't cost much to do it again.

Cost of supplies: $50. Sold for $115.

Fifth grade hexagon wall art

Auction Project: Watercolor Hexagons

I had a few parent helpers for this one. We had the kids draw designs with thin Sharpie on small (2.75-inch square) pieces of 90lb watercolor paper, which they then painted with watercolors. Then I used a 1.5-inch hexagon paper punch to cut out my favorite part of each piece of art. I glued the hexagons onto a piece of 13x17-inch watercolor paper using Mod Podge (Elmer's extra-strong white glue would also work) and weighed it down while it was drying to make sure it stayed flat. I framed it in a 12x16" IKEA frame. I scanned the kids' signatures and used them to make a little key showing which kid made which hexagon; I glued this onto the back of the frame.

I had enough leftover art to make a second piece for the teacher.

This one was pretty easy, but I think it would be better for younger kids next time (like third graders). I feel like the fifth graders had enough artistic skill that they could have made something more impressive given the opportunity.

Cost of supplies: $50. Sold for $130.

Third grade polygonal Mt. Hood wall art

Auction Project: Watercolor Mt. Hood

Inspired by this Mt. Hood art. This project required more prep work than most of the other ones. I started with an 18x7-inch piece of heavy (140lb) watercolor paper. I transferred an outline of Mt. Hood onto the paper, divided into enough shapes so that each student would have two shapes to fill in. I used watercolor masking fluid to outline each shape.

I had each student choose two of the shapes, draw a design in each shape with thin Sharpie, then color with watercolor. They also initialed their chosen shapes on a smaller version of the design, which I glued to the back of the frame when it was all done. There were some splatters and drips around the art, so I cut it out and glued it onto another piece of watercolor paper with Mod Podge (weighed down with books while drying). For framing, I initially tried to cut down the three-opening IKEA mat that came with my 20x9-inch frame, but it looked bad, so I ended up getting a custom mat made.

Cost of supplies: $50. Sold for $165.

Third grade collage/papercut bridge wall art

Auction Project: Tilikum Bridge Collage/Papercut

This Tilikum Bridge art was inspired by Mayuko Fujino's papercut and magazine collage art. I started by tracing the bridge outline onto a piece of printer paper, using this Tilikum bridge quilt as a template, and adding waves and clouds for more interest. Then I divided the picture into 22 distinct numbered areas--one per student. Next, I enlarged that picture 135% (still using printer-weight paper), wrote the area type (water, sky, clouds, bridge) on the front and the area number on the back, and cut out each area (that way kids could collage as much as they wanted without infringing on their neighboring areas).

Before I went to class, I cut interesting images out of magazines (Scrap in Portland was a good source for collage supplies) and sorted them into four groups (sky = yellow/orange, bridge = white/gray, river = blue, cloud = white/cream). In many cases, the kids turned the magazine cutouts over and used a different image than I'd intended, which made it more colorful than planned, but I like it (donut clouds!).

Auction Project: Tilikum Bridge Collage/Papercut

Working with three kids at a time in class, I had them choose a numbered area and collage magazine pieces onto it with Mod Podge until all of the printer paper was covered. I had a few kids collage the wrong side of their piece, so if I did this again, I would try to make it clearer which side of the paper was the front.

When all of the collaged pieces were dry, I trimmed their edges and glued them to the background (a piece of heavy watercolor paper) with more Mod Podge. I weighed it all down with books while it was drying, and it came out flat enough.

Auction Project: Tilikum Bridge Collage/Papercut

Next, I made a papercut overlay, using heavy-ish white paper (12x16-inch, maybe 78lb?). I already had the paper cutting supplies from the class I took with Nikki McClure when I was pregnant with Felix.

Auction Project: Tilikum Bridge Collage/Papercut

I attached the papercut to the collage background by gluing just around the edges of the paper. Then I framed it in a 16x20-inch IKEA frame and glued a little signature key to the back like I did with the other wall art projects.

Auction Project: Tilikum Bridge Collage/Papercut

If I did this again, I'd leave the bridge parts solid white (or nearly) to give the eye someplace to rest. Also I'd make the art slightly smaller and wider to leave space for a name/date at the bottom instead of having to write those on the mat.

I also took photos of this art and used it to print some greeting cards--one set to give to the teacher, and two to sell at the auction (on the advice of more experienced PTA parents).

I really like how this turned out, and it wins the prize for lowest supply cost AND highest selling price (tied with the kindergarten quilt below, which took a LOT more time and money to make). It took more in-class time than the other projects, but the kids seemed to enjoy themselves.

Cost of supplies: $30. Sold for $650.

Kindergarten house quilt

Auction Project: Kindergarten House Quilt

Wow, this quilt was a labor of love. It took so much time to make, and I love how it turned out, but I don't think I'll ever make another one of these (maybe some mini house quilts though, like to hang on a wall--I wonder how those would do in an auction).

This quilt was inspired by this house quilt. I started in September by having each kid draw a house on one piece of printer paper and a tree on another piece. I then combined these drawings and turned them into a paper piecing pattern by scanning them, enlarging to fit an approximately 9x12-inch block (this was the size of the tracing paper that I had), and turning each kid-drawn line into a straight line (I followed this tutorial for general paper piecing knowledge).

Kindergarten House Quilt Drawings

Then I took the block patterns back to school along with a box of my favorite stash fabric and some new additions (narrowed down to five color groups so the quilt would look more coherent) and asked each kid to choose fabric to "color" each part of their block. I also had them choose a piece of trim (ric-rac or mini pom-poms) to put somewhere on the block.

I also scanned the kids' names, decided where in the block they would fit, drew designs around them, and had them printed on fabric by Spoonflower (a fat quarter gave me four repeats of each name; I used the extras on the back of the quilt). I used Kona Ivory for the sky in all of the blocks.

2017 Kindergarten Quilt Block: Virgil

Using the paper piecing patterns and kid-chosen fabrics, I sewed 22 12-inch-tall house blocks of varying width, framed in coordinating fabrics (1/2-inch inner frame, 1-inch outer frame, not including seam allowance). Some of the smaller details were appliqued on. I also made improv-pieced backing blocks, grouped by color (one color per quilt row). If I'd used solid pieces of fabric for the backing, it would have saved me a good amount of time (but I love how it turned out!).

Then I quilted each framed block/batting/backing sandwich individually. Here are a few of the blocks next to the original drawings. I love all of these; click through the Flickr for lots more.

Auction Project: Kindergarten House Quilt

Auction Project: Kindergarten House Quilt

Auction Project: Kindergarten House Quilt

Then I assembled the quilt in five rows using this quilt-as-you-go method. Each row was 17 inches high, alternating 4-5-4-5-4 houses per row and varying the sashing width to make everything fit.

Finally, I bound the quilt. The finished quilt was 64x84 inches--good for a twin, full, or queen (barely) bed. I finished it in late January, a few weeks before the auction.

Auction Project: Kindergarten House Quilt - Front

Kindergarten House Quilt - Back

Kindergarten House Quilt - Folded

I also made a few sets of greeting cards to sell at auction/give to Felix's teacher.

Auction Project: Kindergarten House Quilt

Next time (ha!), I would let the kids choose different fabrics for the sky (from a limited palette) for more interest. I would also make sure the non-sky fabrics didn't have white backgrounds or large pictures. For the trim, I would use only ric-rac, because the pompoms melted under the iron and were hard to secure at the ends.

Pros: I used up lots of my stash fabric (but also gained some new fabric), raised lots of money for the school, and made something beautiful.

Cons: So much work!

Cost of supplies: $250 (ouch! And that doesn't even include all of the stash fabric I used). Sold for $650.

And for those who found this page while searching for school auction project ideas, here are some other projects from classes I wasn't involved with that did well at the auction: large acrylic paint pour wall art (kindergarten project); a custom-painted little free library, installation included (3rd grade); custom painted corn hole boards (2nd grade); indigo shibori quilt and throw pillows (4th grade).