Saturday, December 15, 2012

L'Escalade: Celebrating the Defense of Geneva

Off to Geneva on a cold and cloudy day, to celebrate the defense of Geneva by the townspeople, against Savoyard invaders, in 1604.

The costumes were beautiful!

These are some pikeman who did a demonstration.  I kept looking at the beautiful handmade stockings of many rich colors!

Here are musketeers.

Beautiful handknit socks.....

These men were collecting donations to fund costumes and other expenses in yellow cans.

We bought a pin with Geneva colors and a metal badge from these cute, jolly little boys.

Look at the braces the musketeers are carrying.  They prop their guns on the braces while shooting.

The wooden containers which the men are wearing on a strap across their chests contain measures of gunpowder.

Drums and


We bought delicious hot wine in little pottery cups at this stand.

This man was calling out, "Vin chaud!  Vin chaud!"

This girl is covering her ears because the musket fire was so loud.  I spilled my hot wine the first time they shot.

Here are the musketeers tamping down the fuel...(I think it was a piece of cloth and some gunpowder.) 

This man has a lit rope wick in his hand.  These muskets go off when the fuel is ignited with the wick.  There is no trigger.

Here is a chocolate marmite with a Geneva sheild and colors on it, and marzipan vegetables.  If you want to see why this is a symbol of the Escalade, see my posting from last year at

Look at this character who was quietly watching the festivities.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Make a Recycled Ship!

 I got inspired by the treasure ships I saw on Se7en, and started collecting tetra pak juice boxes with the help of some friends!  When we had enough I cut off one side of each, and pulled out a flap to make a prow.  I showed the children some wonderful N.C. Wyeth illustrations of ships, including this viking ship.  We talked about things you see on ships.....sails, oars, cannons, windows and portholes, flags, and figureheads.  I showed them some pictures of figureheads, too.

On Se7en, the children paint their ships and glue some goodies onto them.  I decided the children should use collage papers so they could take their ships home right away, instead of waiting until they were dry.

They plunged into the wealth of collage papers I had made and glued the colorful papers onto their ships, or glued on paper they had colored, because we didn't have much brown left, like the ship above.  I love this Swiss flag!

I advised them to cut their figurehead out of construction paper, though, since it is colored on both sides, and showed them how to slit the end, split the slits to both sides, and glue the figurehead to the ship.

It is hard to take clear, bright pictures in our space, which has very low light.  I'm hoping the school will install some brighter bulbs soon.

I adore this combination of orange and blue.

This ship has a mermaid figurehead.

What a scary skull and crossbones on this beautiful color combination!

This artist made his box into a dragon with wings.  Some of the children really, really wanted their boats to float, which explains the popsicle sticks underneath.  They are pontoons.  I told them that their boats would tip over because they are top heavy, and that the glue would melt.  But I wouldn't be surprised if some ships went into the sink anyway once the children got home.  Children love to make things they can play with!

Look at the collage on the side of this ship,

and the unicorn on the sail and figurehead on this ship.

By the way, the children who did this project ranged in age from 5 to 11 or so.

Se7en's wonderful posting about treasure ships and maps is at

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Make a Map!

 I started by showing the children, from kindergarten through fifth grade, this wonderful old map of a part of Scandinavia.  We looked at the details....a compass, sea monsters, ships, people, animals, mountains, trees, lakes, rivers, and towns.

 I showed them a sample...a map I drew with a sharpie pen, colored with watercolor.  I am ambivalent about showing them something I do as an example sometimes, because the children tend to admire it and copy some of it, but they also start right away and know how to proceed with the project.  Children and all artists are visual, and verbal instruction can get in the way if it isn't supported by something to look at.

 We brainstormed about details that would be fun to draw, trees to represent forests, animals, castles, little houses to represent towns....

 a ship with a flag, (these little international children love to show flags!) and x marks the spot for treasure!

 Look at the octopus, mermaid, submarine, and whirlpool.

 A fire-breathing dragon, a very detailed ship with a man overboard, a star for the capitol city, and a beautiful pink sailboat.

 Here is a sinking ship and a wonderful satellite!

 Even though I wanted the children to draw first with the permanent marker and then paint, this child needed to draw some details later.  The paper was damp so it was hard for the pen to stick.

 I love to hear the children tell me about their drawings.

 This country has sections representing elements: life, air, fire, water, earth, and the undead!

 Look at the amazing palm tree in this painting, and the active volcano.  A shark has a sword stuck in its fin, and I see big waves and a huge sea monster!

 This boy didn't have time to add color and that's okay.  He has a wonderful imagination and loves to draw.  there is lots to see in this wonderful drawing.  Look at the very detailed airport seen so convincingly from above, all sorts of vehicles in the air and water, the town with streets and driveways, and the Turkish flag.

 We talked about how on maps sometimes things are shown in different scales, so the delightful elephant is sticking his head over the wall of the zoo.  Look how carefully this girl worked out the three-dimensional shapes of the buildings.

 I was amazed how well the youngest children, like Kiki, grasped the abstract concept of map-making.  I think it helps that the children come from all over the world and have seen the ground from the windows of airplanes many times.

 What beautiful results from this project, which followed on our creation of sailing ships the week before.  I'll show you pictures from that soon.  Sorry the pictures are so blurry, there is low light in our studio and it gets dark early this time of year.