Friday, March 31, 2017

Arts Around the World: Celtic Knots and Illuminated Letters from Ireland

The third country in our Arts Around the World journey this year is Ireland. 2nd grade students began by learning about the country, including where it is located and it's capital city, Dublin. Many students here at Hosmer have family members who immigrated from Ireland and relatives that live there!
For our first project, we learned about the Celtics (like the Boston basketball team!). Around 700 B.C., the Celts began to settle in Ireland and lived there for nearly 2,000 years. They lived during the Iron Age and made their own iron weapons and tools. This was important, since they frequently battled the Vikings. They also created objects from bronze, silver and gold. 
We looked at different examples of Celtic art and noticed its decorative patterns, spirals, curved lines, knots, and animals. We learned about the Celtic knot, which are interlaced knot designs using curved lines. Celtic knots are also endless knots, in that there is no end or beginning to the design.
On our first day, we explored Celtic knots and practiced drawing some. They were a little challenging but it was also fun to come up with our own versions of Celtic knots. We also discussed why the Celts would have decorated their weapons and shields with designs like the Celtic knot. One student brought up this question, which led to a great discussion about why people make art. We discussed how designs would help identify different groups of people, and could help represent yourself personally.
The following class we learned about illuminated manuscripts, which were handwritten books that combined pictures and decorations. The first letter on a new page would be larger and decorated with designs, often with gold. The Book of Kells is a famous example of an illuminated manuscript from Ireland.  
One student connected the idea of an illuminated letter to books she had read, especially fairy tales that start "Once upon a time..." and the "O" is much bigger and fancier than the rest of the letters on the page.
Each student selected either the first letter of their first or last name to create as an illuminated letter. Students began by tracing the letter onto paper and decorating the inside of the letter with Celtic knots and other designs. We thought back to the discussion we had about using art and design to represent people and thought about how we could incorporate personal symbols and connections in our letter design, as well.
Students started with pencil and after they were done drawing their design, they outlined with Sharpie and erased any remaining pencil lines. Then students used watercolor paint to paint their letter, as well as metallic Sharpie to provide the "illumination" to their letter. Students could choose to use the metallic Sharpies on their Celtic knot designs or other details within their letter.
After painting and "illuminating" their letters, some students cut out their letter and glued it onto a colored background. This was optional but was a good way to clean up the space around their letter if the paint went outside the lines or splattered around the letter during the painting process. Below are examples of our illuminated letters with Celtic knots:
Isabelle C., 2nd Grade (Hinds)
Joey, 2nd Grade (Pearse)
Kendyll, 2nd Grade (Hinds)
Muntaha, 2nd Grade (Pearse)
Noah, 2nd Grade (O'Connor)
Peter, 2nd Grade (Hinds)
Ava P., 2nd Grade (Pearse)
Dylan, 2nd Grade (McCarthy)
Ally, 2nd Grade (Hinds)
Emma, 2nd Grade (Hinds)
Evelyn, 2nd Grade (Pearse)
After our illuminated letters, we made Celtic knot collages using specific templates to cut out shapes that overlapped to form a Celtic knot. It involved a lot of cutting but the end result created a colorful interlaced design!

Emine, 2nd Grade (O'Connor)
Luanna, 2nd Grade (McIsaac)
Tessa, 2nd Grade (O'Connor)
Vivian, 2nd Grade (McIsaac)

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