May 27, 2011

Cherry Blossom Scrolls

The trees just finished blossoming in vibrant pinks and clean whites in our little part of the world. It is so spectacular I had to bring in some of the blossoms to decorate my desk.  The next day I found hiding in a drawer a silk scarf one of my students brought back for me from his trip to his home, China. It had beautiful and delicate cherry blossoms painted on it! They looked similar to the ones on my desk. While browsing through books I found this beautiful book called Zen Shorts that totally captivated me with it's illustrations. This might be the perfect time to read it!

I feel like I'm constantly simmering with ideas that are waiting for the right time and place to make their debut. 

In the book there are tons of beautiful illustrations some done in watercolor and some in stylized ink (they remind me of chinese calligraphy.) The book also tells about a Zen approach to the world. The stories teach the polar opposite of what most of the students are taught at home. This non confrontational approach to solving problems was just what I wanted to share with this particular group this week.

A perfect storm! The book Zen Shorts, the blossoms, the silk scarf and I had the beginnings of this new and exciting lesson. We used ink pooled in a line down the paper and blew it with a straw to make thinner branches. We mixed white and red to make the vibrant pink blossoms. Finally students folded it over a stick and tied a piece of twine to make their hanging scroll. I am still working on this project for next year. Although the results are beautiful, I still feel like the lesson could benefit from another level of self expression. I will let it simmer, but until then let me know what you think and if you have any ideas of how to add more individuality to the pieces. This is a new lesson and a "work in progress."

Japanese Cherry Blossoms

Display of hanging scrolls.


Phyl said...

Oh, I think they are lovely just the way they are! Delicate and pretty!

Is your ink watered down or full strength? Did you or they pour it down the paper? What kind/weight paper did you use? I'm looking for specifics because I haven't always been successful with blown ink, but I love the way it looks.

Phyl said...

One more question: what grade level(s)?

Ruth Lee said...

I love how you displayed the scrolls! So beautiful and atmospheric.

Shannah said...

Love that book too:) Great tie in.
And what a great display!!!

Unknown said...

Thanks for the comments. I used the ink watered down a little because it was older probably from 1970's and a little sludgy. I made it the same consistency as water. Then the students painted a line down their paper with the ink on that line they added drops (with their paintbrush) of more ink (it stays on the line because it creates a little "road" for it.) I hope this makes some sense. Then they blow on the drops or pools of ink that they put on their line with a straw. I used regular 80 lb paper (the good harder paper but still drawing paper) ordered from sax catalogue. ALSO TOTAL SIDE NOTE BUT I'VE BEEN EXPERIMENTING WITH PAINT BRANDS AND FINALLY FOUND A CHEAP ONE I LIKE! VERSA TEMPERA FROM THE SAX CATALOGUE WAS AWESOME!

Kreanimo said...

Wow, lovely!

I saw a similar lesson on Jaquelien's blog:
but you took it a step further! I love the scrolls!

Ilse at

Unknown said...

Ooohhh thanks! Love her site too! Hers are beautiful! I have seen the idea somewhere else too not sure if it was a blog or a book. If it was your blog link it up here so I can remember and we can check it out! Thanks

HipWaldorf said...

Hi Erica! How's that Family Art Night planning coming along?

I just finished painting cherry blossoms with my first grade and it took me 3 years to figure out what I needed to adjust/tweak in the lessons for them to be satisfying for me. I switched from blowing paint to a simple drawn brown crayon branch and then using the Dick Blick liquid watercolors magenta or fusia (I forgot) to paint multitudes of flowers so that the paintings are more like true cherry trees in bloom. Enjoy! See my link;

Unknown said...

Thanks for the link Blue Bird. . . I just saw another blogger post a nice idea for this project too if you haven't seen it they are pretty awesome.

Thanks Hip Waldorf I LOVE your cherry blossom spin. They are lovely and such a manageable project (love that!) Clay with Me (the art night I was planning) I have decided to save until September as a back to school kick off with teachers/parents/students/teachers kids. I wanted it to be a way for teachers to sit with their parents and students and get to know each other in a fun setting. I also want to do a really high quality experience. . . I think it's just too soon to advertise and do it right. . . I'll have the summer to think about it, get supplies make flyers etc. The ideas you sent me are also a thought for later in the year. I'm kind of a One Man Band at my school so it is a lot for me to take on all the stations with little help. One day, I have it in my files for if I ever end up in that ideal situation where I can make it work. Thank you again for helping me with that. . . it will get used (when the opportunity is there!)

HipWaldorf said...

Great Idea for Back to School family night! Take it easy and enjoy that baby!

TeachKidsArt said...

Love this idea! I'll be trying it next year, for sure!! :)

Anna Pietrolungo, Essendon North Primary School said...

Hi there! Just bumped into your blog and saw your amazing Cherry Blossom Scrolls. Absolutely beautiful! So I'm reading all the other comments... then I come across one that you wrote about my blog and how you thought my blossoms were awesome..thank you so much for your comment... isn't it amazing how we have connected... Anna:)