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Saturday, February 27, 2016

Paper Mache Monkeyshines

Each lunar new year in the city of Tacoma a wonderful band of artists come together under the stewardship of the elusive Ms. Monkey and place their artistic treasures all around the city. This article from the Tacoma News Tribune provides a lot of details about this unique community event. Ms. Monkey's work is inspirational and uplifting. The glass art brings beauty, hope, adventure, and joy to the Tacoma community. We are so lucky to have this going on in our art scene!
Glass Monkeyshines in the hands of the fortunate finders!
A monkeyshine is typically a piece of glass art such as a medallion or orb with the imprint of the year's Chinese zodiac animal stamped upon it. For the past 3 years I've searched around the city to find one but never had luck. When this year's lunar new year approached I shared my excitement about the hunt with my 5th grade students. They were impressed by Ms. Monkey's story. They really liked how she remains anonymous and is so giving to the community. They couldn't believe you could keep it if you are lucky enough to find one. The Monkeyshine endeavor is purely done on donations! I admit I am a Monkeyshine enabler, I made sure to donate money to their work so they can continue the tradition this year. I received a beautiful glass cup!

I got Monkeyshine after all!
Since I'm working on including "living artists" into my curriculum I thought it would be really fun if the 5th grade art students created their own version of a Monkeyshine in response to the work of Ms. Monkey. They told me they probably wouldn't have many chances of searching for one since they live nearly 20 miles away. So, why not make one? They loved the idea!


We began by blowing up balloon a little larger than a softball. I supplied them with pieces of colored tissue paper and art paste. They've had previous experience working in this medium with their "Slice of Cake" sculptures. They were to add as many layers of paper on their balloons as possible in the 2 classes I budgeted for this process. We also included a chenille stick ring around the balloon knot to mimic the lip of the glass Monkeyshine stamp.


Once they were dry, students cut the balloon knot and pulled out the balloon.  Some balloons didn't have enough paper on them due to absences or less production time. These were converted into a medallion shape.

I then instructed students to create a monkeyshine drawing within a traced circle. They could then color them with watercolor paint. These were then cut and attached on top of the raised lip. They then coated their entire form with Mod Podge to seal it and give it a gloss luster similar to glass.



 The artists had to be very careful in painting this on as it compromised the paper form's shape causing it to become soggy. I didn't anticipate this so if I were to teach this lesson again I could use stronger news print instead of tissue paper and have the students paint with tempera and leave the balloon in when then coat it with Mod Podge. The tissue paper gave a beautiful color but overall needed so many layers if the spherical shape were to be maintained.

All in all I think the students enjoyed the art of paper mache. I told them that when you find a Monkeyshine it is customary to take a selfie with it and post it online. They asked for snapshot so I obliged. I encouraged them to hide their Monkeyshine in their neighborhoods or even create more at home. Most of them wanted to keep theirs of course!
Some of the happy artists! Since they didn't have signed photo release forms from their parents/guardians I thought some sweet happy emojis would serve as identity protection. I suppose it'll do!
So, I'll finish this post saying, "Thanks, Ms. Monkey!"