The 10th Piece – Must we suffer for our art?

The 10th piece – Must we suffer for our art?

It was the middle of my second year teaching art at the private school when I was approached by board member wanting to know if I could come up with a special art project that would involve all the kids.  She wanted it to be on permanent display and to have The 10 Commandments on it.  At that time the school had just a tiny number of students (just over 20?), but they spanned in ages from K to 10th grade. 

A Ten Commandments Art Project. Involving all the kids.  ??? I know, right?

I was sweating over this.

But inspiration comes from surprising places. It was when I was slipping on a bright colorful paisley print skirt that I GOT IT!  Hallelujah!

We would make a colorful mosaic in a similar pattern.  All my kids were capable of cutting and gluing (with different degrees of success). We could then glue the lettered 10 Commandments on top of the mosaic background.

This was before I knew anything about blogs where PAINT CHIP ART is all the rage!

Very proudly I determined that these little pieces of colorful goodness would be the perfect inexpensive, thick material that could be cut for our pieces.

Yes, we just keep on reinventing the wheel don’t we? 

I had saved paint samples left from building our home years earlier. This artist can’t get rid of anything! So I had quite a few.

But, Hear this Oh Lovers of Paint Chips:

A resourceful mother got on the phone and got boxes of old paint chips donated!!!  Apparently the store she contacted would periodically THROW OUT old samples when a color line was updated.  This was in 2006; I have no idea if stores still do this –      ‘cause I still got a whole box full!  Hee! Hee! Hee!

But it certainly could be worth checking out.

I borrowed a cricut machine from a friend to cut out words from heavy black cardstock.  A parent made the 8’x4’ board and the kids and I primed it.  Working from the skirt I sketched the design for us to follow with our colorful pieces.  Yes-it was a teachable moment.

Not long into the project it was very apparent that the meticulous cutting and gluing was loved by some and disliked by others.  My little ones put a few of their pieces on the board, but spent most of their time cutting snips of color for the other kids to glue in place. Yes, I believe this qualified as fine motor skills practice, don’t you?

I think I dedicated two art classes to the group project before moving on.  I gave older students who enjoyed it the option to continue working.  Just about everyone connected with the school added a few of their own pieces. Parents, fellow teachers and I worked on it like an old-fashioned quilting bee.  Some kids stayed after school to cut and glue.  Time was ticking and I realized we were so not going to finish by the end of the year.

But like many “over-achiever” teachers I know, I had taken on this project and I was determined to see it finished.

Cut to a Saturday night around 10pm – my kitchen and living room COVERED with papers, blades, more scraps of paper, letters.  I was cutting the 10 commandments and it was taking decidedly LONGER than I thought it should. 

Do you remember those infomercials for cricut?  All the smiling ladies with their beautiful completed projects – all done with just a few touches of a button?  

It was so not like that.

So glad God didn’t need to cut out the letters that way or poor Moses might still be up on that mountain….

 And then it happened…


All letter production HALTED!  Grandma came to spend the night with the kids. And the 45 minute drive of AGONY to the EMERGENCY ROOM ensued (fadeout)…

The truth now…do share – Have you required medical assistance in the pursuit of art?