Design and Innovation on the Runway

23 04 2016

CC full group.jpg

This is one event we do that takes months to prepare for and then when it comes up it is over before I can catch my breath.  This project starts in October and concludes in late April.  My students start with a idea and then start gathering materials.  We have the task to create a wearable garment with 75% recycled/repurposed materials.  This is a very serious competition among my own students and with the whole State of Arkansas.  There are Senior Scholarship dollars on the line with additional award dollars at the runway show.  My group is hard working and dedicate all the hours outside of their regular school class schedules and other extra curricular activities.  The creation of the garments are done outside the studio art class.  We have several workshop design days on the weekends to help shape the progress of each individual but a lot of the work is done by the students at home late at night.


My studio explodes with random materials that come in multiples from household materials to industry castoffs.  It’s all viewed differently once it enters my studio.  The questions we answer when looking at the materials are:  Can it be cut, bent, colored, weaved, stitched, layered, etc.?  Then the concept the designer created is merged with the available materials and design solutions begin.  There are trials and errors, redos and failures. It’s all about the process.

I have had some of the designers for four years and some for one year.  I have even had one student model only and then turned designer this year.  We have a lot of fun and we learn so much from our explorations of the materials.  Our goal is always clear, create a wearable garment that doesn’t look like the original materials.  Reinvent, inspire, and make something amazing.  I am never disappointed.

This year we won first place, third place, and best creative design.  In addition my Seniors won both Thea Fashion Design Scholarships.  I could not be more impressed with how much my students have developed through this process.

I have many of my students moving on to college this next year but I know I have returning designers and a few hanging in the wings ready to take on the challenge next year.  I’m excited about the new possibilities.




so much left to accomplish

9 04 2016
Ally B. girls with pattern

A. Broadnax

April is the time of year to reap the rewards from a year of work in the studio. The showcases have concluded in the school building but the art contests are passing out awards. Awards are not the most important part of the studio practice but it adds excitement and challenge. We get to see how we measure up and how we have grown.

This year is the first year of full choice so the measurement of awards will be more of a comparison of student achievements from a modified choice program and further back a teacher directed program.



I am curious of how this all unfolds. So far my students have achieved record awards and scholarships but I will balance that with my own research and data collected from my students in the studio.  I am going to work with my students to figure out what they liked best about the program, what do they want to see change, add in their suggestions with my educated ideas and I’m hopeful I have a better program for next year.

Speaking of next year, my class-projected numbers are very high so I am trying to evaluate how can I maintain at this pace and rate. I know it is a heavy load and I am exhausted. I need to find a balance that helps me be able to meet my students needs without it becoming more than I can handle. Trust me, I can and have taken on a lot but that isn’t always the best for best teaching to happen. I believe you need to be honest with yourself and decide when it has become too much. I feel I need to make more modifications to my program that will require further research into digital platforms to help with the tracking and transparent communications/discussions between me and the art student. I am finding the volume that is built by my students is amazing but getting timely feedback with the amount of students is pushing my abilities. It’s not bad to push and learn and grow. I hope I model that for my students in the manner in which I have strived to create a full choice studio.

Areas I feel need more research are in the discussion areas and in the art proposals. I would like a more transparent document that flows back and forth that a Google form and a spreadsheet just cannot preform. I know many teachers use blogs but that isn’t going to work. Google classroom has this ability but I need to work within the platforms I have in my school. I still love Blendspace but we have had some connectivity issues and the comments on individual slides do not equal the kind of conversations I would like to support among students in my studio or between the individual artist and me.

We do conduct critiques, presentations, and conversations daily but I feel some method to communicate from our devices would spur more content building and sharing with more ease in sharing sites, research, and scaffolding techniques. Almost like an individualized class workbook for each student. Gosh, I wish I had the time and skills to build what I can imagine.

Sarah M hand on wheel.jpg

S. Maxwell

Well, next week we are preparing all of our work for the state competition and a full day outside together doing some on-site photo challenges. My students always do a great job and impress me with their take on the prompts. The weekend will be filled with Prom and then bookend with our recycle fashion runway show. It’s always exciting but pretty intense too. Keeping my AP artists on track hasn’t been too hard they are a great group. They have requested a lock-in for a wrap on the portfolios. (I am entertaining the idea.)


The end of the year is always crazy but also challenging due to some of my students becoming increasingly distracted. So I am coming up with some prompts to keep them engaged and inspired. A little bit more modified choice but we need to do it to keep it moving in my studio.

Haylee dress1

H. Greer

I hope everyone is working hard to finish strong. I know it’s hard but this is the time of year we need to show what we are made of. I’m taking time to relax and even short moments during my hectic days to center myself. I look at my calendar and knock one date down at a time; it’s all I can manage right now.

I’m writing this on my patio in the sunshine and trying to motivate myself to tackle my grade book. I cannot wait until I can convert to more of a reflection with my students instead of a letter grade. I don’t think I’m too far away from that reality.

Will. C sandy beach

W. Conyer

Light speed to the end and then summer.


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