Sunday, February 28, 2010

Updated Bookmaking Supply Lists & Links


PLEASE NOTE THAT THE PRICES I'VE LISTED ARE TO BE USED AS A GENERAL BUDGETING TOOL AND ARE NOT NECESSARILY THE PRICE YOU WILL FIND ON THE SHELVES. People ask all the time what they should be prepared to spend on basic supplies. It varies everywhere and I don't keep close tabs on who charges what.Click on the pictures to download and view larger.

PLEASE NOTE THAT THE PRICES I'VE LISTED ARE TO BE USED AS A GENERAL BUDGETING TOOL AND ARE NOT NECESSARILY THE PRICE YOU WILL FIND ON THE SHELVES. People ask all the time what they should be prepared to spend on basic supplies. It varies everywhere and I don't keep close tabs on who charges what.

Anne Elser Essential Bookmaking Supply List
Shop with Anne the beginning of class. E-mail her for questions:

1. Lineco® medium-duty awl $12.79
2. Lineco® pack of bookbinding needles $5.99
3. Lineco® bone folder $5.59
4. 2-ply chipboard $4.00
(30 x 40 sheet, cut into quarters)
5. Washi Paper, 2 coordinating sheets $10.00
This is decorative handmade paper that comes in many
different patterns, textures and weights. Pick two sheets
you like together that are not tissue paper thin.
6. Mechanical Pencil $3.19
7. Exacto Knife & blades $3.63
I prefer the Fiskars brand if you want to upgrade.
8. Self-healing cutting mat $9.39
At least 12 x 18.
9. Stiff & springy glue brush $1.09
This price refelcts an inexpensive version of a chid’s
craft brush. Lineco makes a larger glue brushes if
you’d like to upgrade.
10. Non-slip metal ruler $3.89
This price reflects a cork-backed ruler. I find the foam
backed rulers sturdier, if you’d like to upgrade.
11. 8oz container of Acrylic Gel Medium $9.39
Coatings like gloss or matt do not matter because
we’ll brush this on and use as an adhesive to cover our
chipboard with paper.
12. Blank letter sheets of paper (20-25) $5.00
I like to use paper that feels good in my hands.
Sometimes I alternate blank pages with lined and
graphed paper. If you can’t find a ream of separate
sheets you like, then buy a pad of paper you like
and either cut or tear them out.

PLEASE NOTE THAT THE PRICES I'VE LISTED ARE TO BE USED AS A GENERAL BUDGETING TOOL AND ARE NOT NECESSARILY THE PRICE YOU WILL FIND ON THE SHELVES. People ask all the time what they should be prepared to spend on basic supplies. It varies everywhere and I don't keep close tabs on who charges what.Bring from Home
1. Scissors
2. Roll of Wax Paper
3. A phonebook to help pierce holes in paper.

Anne Elser: Bookbinding Classes & Workshops

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The Art Gardener

Please take a minute to check out my friend's new beelog: The Art Gardener. Ashlee and I first met (98/99?) when we worked together at The Partnership. We were young, thirsty and dedicated young women just delving into the beginning of our careers. Now we're both experiencing a professional rebirth (personal and spiritual, too) and love sharing the process with each other and you kind readers.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Seeing and Speaking Light

This is the latest in my new series: Light. About seeing and speaking light (enlightenment). The object is speech itself. My mouth now opens and reflects light and I get to watch it happening with my own eyes, instead of looking to another thing or person to reflect my own image. So freeing. Scary at times, but it's happening all the same.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Sexy Little Leather Book

First time I've bound a book in leather - this little man is warm and strong and flexible in my hands. Ufftdah. That sounded a little dirty! :)

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Anne Hanson Orchid Lace Mitts

They are finished! I bought this pattern from about 2.5 years ago and have JUST now completed the last mitt. These are lovely to wear - fit snugly and aren't bulky to wear. LOVE, love love them. Visit Anne Hanson's to see all of her patterns for sale or to see ehis pattern: Orchid Lace Mitts. She's a bonified Knitted Laca Diva!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

New Painted Books

I've finally made the first jump into painting the covers of my books instead of covering them with collages. My next exploration will be to combine the processes for a different kind of depth. These were SO much fun.

It's been a long time since I used acrylic paints. I've forgotten how quickly they dry but I love the way they layer. There's no mud! But while I paint, I've got to act quickly, because before you know it, the color you mixed is dry and no longer spreadable. Think I might explore using a retarder to slow down drying time. But so far, I'm liking the effect it makes on my thought processes.

Here are the covers. Tomorrow you'll see two of these books stitched up!

BTW, these will be for sale at the Kai Lin Art Gallery in Midtown. Opening show is called GRACE, featuring your truly and two other brilliant female artists.

Yay, Life!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Emilie Friday

Check out her work. A fellow calligrapher found her site and forwarded her to me. LOVE the work and flourishing. It's round and warm and fun. LOVE, love, love it!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Ivy's Shadow

One of my PC students, Ivy McCleod, has a sweet tiny little doggie named Shadow. Ivy brings Shadow to class when she can and we all take turns petting and snuggling with her during class.

Last week Ivy presented some pretty awesome illustrations as part of her Creative Strokes systems book and this witty portrait she did of Shadow caught my eye. Such a fun thing to do - enhance scale in a humorous way - it just stretches the meaning of the portrait.

Ivy's portrait of Shadow is absolutely perfect and a really good example of why I teach (it's fun and inspiring not just for my students, but for me as well.)

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Kitten Farm

This is at my Aunt Kris's old farm in Wisconsin YEARS ago. Her oldest boy Matthew is on the right, Mom's in the middle back, up front is my younger brother Peter and I'm on the far left. We're holding kittens and this was my first real pet experience that moved me. I've been a cat person every since and shortly after this summer visit, I asked for one of my own. She was a beautiful calico named Rosemary and I loved her and apparently, I was the only one she loved.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Olaf the laundry warmer

He's (Olaf) my studio assistant and has added to his skills, the ability (and desire) to keep laundry from the dryer warm, to resist wrinkling. Here he is, working himself to the bone, overtime, even. What a trooper.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Felt Hearts

I love this idea. Visit the page and have fun making puffy hearts. Just because Valentine's Day is over is no excuse NOT to whip out all your pink stuff and go to town. :)

Monday, February 15, 2010

How to Make Blue Poop

This is also how you make blue toilet paper. Just in case you were interested.

Sunday, February 14, 2010


A little fun sketch I did in our last Advanced Calligraphy class at Binders last week, after I'd watched the last 3-part presentation of Emma. Poor Emma. Sunny, yet scolded.

You can watch the entire series on the PBS site. Such a great service.

Emma on PBS.

Saturday, February 13, 2010


Here's my bunny, reading in the snow. We got hit big yesterday and made sure to take advantage of it. So beautiful!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Thursday, February 11, 2010

A Conversation with Anne Elser

Just read Ian Boccio's new Artist & Instructor: Anne Elser story on the Binders Art Blog... a really engaging interview and just as much fun to read. Thanks Binders! Thanks Ian!

Artists and Instructors at BINDERS, #1: A Conversation with Anne Elser

BINDERS is privileged to host workshops and classes with instructors like Anne Elser, whose depth of knowledge and level of craft skills are exceeded only by her accessibility and sense of play.

If you've ever been in the store in the evening during one of her calligraphy or bookmaking classes, you may have heard bursts of laughter coming out of the gallery where her students are learning new forms of artistic expression and having a great time. We catch up with Anne this week and find out a bit about what motivates her to teach in her unique style and how she relates to her craft.

BINDERS: Tell us a bit about where you're from.

Anne: I'm from Atlanta. When I was about three my parents moved down from the north and got a little house in the suburbs, Dunwoody, back in '71, and about ten days after they moved in my brother was born. They just moved out of that house last year!

BINDERS: As an artist, what do you think about the scene in Atlanta?

Anne: Actually, I'm just now re-emerging into the artist community. There will be a show in March at the Kai Lin Art Gallery. Yu-Kai Lin has this new gallery where they do an accelerated show cycle and he works with new and emerging artists. I met him through my bookmaking and calligraphy classes and started selling some handmade books at his gallery. After a few rounds of therapy I reached a place where I started painting again. The show is called "Grace", it's a group show with three women artists, and I'm doing a series of eight paintings about enlightenment featuring very ordinary domestic objects and images, along with some books that have painted covers. So it's like all the skills and types of art that I've learned are coming together into one person and one career. It's amazing!

BINDERS: When you were in art school, what were you studying?

Anne: I studied painting and ceramics, then after school I moved out to Albuquerque, New Mexico, because I figured I liked Georgia O'Keefe paintings so why not? I did a few shows there and then things just petered out. I mean back then, I graduated in '91, the art schools spell-checked your resume and wished you well and we all followed the stereotype of the starving, mentally challenged artist, but it doesn't have to be that way!

BINDERS: Since that time, you've become very involved in calligraphy and bookmaking, which you didn't study in school. How did that come about?

Anne: I lived in Albuquerque for about three years, teaching art classes for kids (which I love!), but the pay scale and the pace of life out there is just too slow and low and I didn't really have any life skills anyway, so I moved back to Atlanta and my parents generously put me through grad school at the Portfolio Center, where I studied advertising and graphic design, initially thinking it was kind of a sell-out, but I didn't care because I was tired of being poor! The Portfolio Center was a fabulous experience. They teach you how to market creativity, which is a wonderful skill to have, so I was able to market anything after that - most importantly myself! I started teaching at the Portfolio Center right after I graduated, got really great job here in the city at a small advertising firm where I worked for seven years. At the end of the seven years I met and married my husband and we moved back to Dunwoody where I grew up and bought a house. Then my son, Anton, was born (he's three now), and I left the firm and started teaching full time at Portfolio Center, six classes per week. My first calligraphy job was my own wedding! I'd taken a class from Carol Gray at Callenwolde. I got into bookmaking when I audited a class at the Portfolio Center taught by Michael Goodman, who is a wonderful bookmaker here in Atlanta. So that's how I got started and it was about two years ago that I called over here to BINDERS and said that I'd noticed they had fine art classes but no calligraphy or craft classes. The rest is history!

BINDERS: What kind of classes are you teaching at Portfolio Center? Do you teach bookmaking there?

Anne: I did teach a couple of bookmaking classes there, but I've incorporated the craft into a class called Production, for the first quarter students, just to introduce them to the joy of actually making things. The Production class at P.C. used to be about making a perfect white box with perfect bevelled edges, but that just wasn't my style. Maybe if it was a pink box... That's why I bring them over here to BINDERS and say "If you're going to make a perfect box it might as well be fun!"

BINDERS: You said your first calligraphy job was for your wedding. Was there something about that particular experience that made you want to start teaching calligraphy?

Anne: Calligraphy was something I knew very little about. Once I got the job out of grad school I decided I was going to take a yoga class, a tap class and a calligraphy class - I quit smoking, I started knitting, it was just that kind of time. But calligraphy is a very metered, measured, mastered sort of craft. It's like yoga, very meditative, and yet you've got to learn the rules for each hand before you can go crazy, which is what I'm doing now. The first ten minutes of that first calligraphy class I was convinced that I wasn't going to like it. I mean, you had this white pad of paper and guide sheets and everything had to be just so. I just thought 'oh well, that's $120 out the window, but it's OK." Then, by the end of the class, I loved it! You get into a rhythm of making marks over and over again, then threading those marks into letters and words, and then you can write anything you want. It's just another way to visually interpret a beautiful, or achingly sad, idea.

BINDERS: What drew you to take the bookmaking class from Michael Goodman? Was it part of that same time period?

Anne: That was later. Three months after my son was born, I went back to teaching. I'd had a very difficult third trimester in the pregnancy and had to be in the hospital and on bed-rest a lot. I was so weak I couldn't even walk up a flight of stairs without getting tired! So when I went back to teaching I also wanted to do something for myself and I thought Michael's Wednesday night class would be perfect because I love sewing and needlework and paper and it was like all those things rolled into one. I took the class right alongside the students I was teaching in other classes. It was really therapeutic, by the time the class was over the stairs were no problem! It was a healing experience.

BINDERS: What kind of students do you get in your bookmaking classes here at BINDERS?

Anne: Mostly women. I think there have been like two guys in the past, but they can range in age from late '70s to early 20's, the ready-for-graduate-school type of person. It's funny though, the first two nights of any class that I teach here I'm the only one talking and everyone's really quiet, watching the demos, and then all it takes is for me to make one error and have to say "Oh wait everybody, go back to step two," and then we start laughing and talking and by the end of the six week course we all know each other pretty well. All of these classes are treats, they're a form of self-love for anyone who takes them on. We talk a lot about life.

Anne Elser will be starting a new series of bookmaking and calligraphy classes during the 4th week of February, 2010. Check The ART School at BINDERS schedule online to get more information and sign up, or call the store and reserve your space over the phone!

Visit the BINDERS website at!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Februrary-March 2010 Calligraphy & Bookmaking classes

Hi Friends,

It's that time again to sign up for my calligraphy and bookbinding classes at Binders.
Here's the info:

Bookmaking with Anne Elser
Tuesdays, 6 sessions, Feb. 23-March 30 • 6-8:30pm • Fee: $140
Sign up now!

We will be making books and boxes in this class with a variety of materials and techniques. The objective here is to give you a fundamental understanding of how books are made - a backbone of knowledge so you can create your own books and journals. There will be an emphasis on neatness and craft and most of all FUN. Making books is a very rewarding experience. They make wonderful gifts, sketchbooks for yourself and journals, photo albums, etc. The only skills required are a love of paper, attention to detail, patience and again - a need to have FUN!

Copperplate Calligraphy with Anne Elser
Wednesdays, 6 sessions, Feb. 24-March 31 • 6-8:30pm • Fee: $140
Sign up now!

Are you fascinated with how beautiful calligraphy looks and want to try it yourself? This is an introductory look at Copperplate, an elegant and elastic hand frequently used for formal invitations, documents and bridal events. After we learn each upper and lower case character, we’ll spend the last two classes learning layout techniques for envelope addressing, a bit of flourishing and color experimentation. Calligraphy is less about pretty handwriting, but more about DRAWING each and every letter. It’s about establishing a pace and rhythmic motion as you write - giving you a consistency of shapes, letters, and spaces in between words and lines. It is highly relaxing and meditative. Like yoga for your hands!

Italic Calligraphy with Anne Elser
Thursdays, 6 sessions, Feb. 25-April 1 • 6-8:30pm • Fee: $140
Sign up now!

The Italic calligraphic face is one of the most widely used and versatile alphabets around. It is highly legible and can be transformed (dressed up or down) with ease. A wonderful face to learn for the beginning calligrapher yet versatile enough to experiment with for the advanced. We will spend 6 weeks learning the Italic face. Students will be given handouts and guide sheets. We will also address spacing and layout for addressing envelopes. Calligraphy is less about pretty handwriting, but more about DRAWING each and every letter. It’s about establishing a pacing and rhythmic motion as you write - giving you a consistency of shapes and letters, and spaces in between words and lines. It is highly relaxing and meditative. Like yoga for the hands.

Instructor Bio
Anne Dusenberry Elser grew up here in Atlanta and earned her BFA from the Cleveland Institute of Art in 1991 with a major in painting and a minor in ceramics. She then studied Graphic Design at The Portfolio Center in Buckhead, where she has been teaching design classes for over 10 years. Anne freelances as a graphic designer and illustrator and as a calligrapher. She is also an instructor in these fields. Her award-winning work has been featured in design annuals, books and magazines (Print, CMYK, Graphis and Communication Arts, Minimal Graphics, Then Is Now) and can be seen in several book jackets (Memory Of A Large Christmas, Storyville USA, Trickster Lives, Let Them Eat Data.) Anne’s experience as a fine artist, a designer in advertising, and as an educator for both children and adults, gives her classes a fun, friendly environment in which to grow and get to know others through self fulfillment and group therapy. Her bookmaking classes appeal to everyone from the casual crafter looking to make their next journal for a friend or family member, to the fine artist interested in binding their own sketches into a book or creating their own sketchbooks that open flat (ideal for sketching), to the designer looking to build their next portfolio. She has two cats named Gunther and Olaf, a six pound Papillon named Bjorn, a toddler named Anton (who is amazing) and a husband named Doug (who is also amazing.) Anne loves baking anything that isn’t good for you, playing the piano, knitting, blogging, gardening and chocolate. She also can’t wait to meet you.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010


Here's a work in progress for my show in March. (Taken with my iPhone:amazing little toy!) The self as inherently full of life and therefore safe. This is the first lighter underpainting I've worked over. I kinda like it. I used to paint the torso with a huge carved out of the core - my therapist noticed that and we've been working together on rebuilding Anne and reinserting her core. I think it's working.

Monday, February 08, 2010

The Turning Sun School

***Update: 12. 14. 2011

I'm adding a little more information here about why Anton no longer goes to Turning Sun (previously known as The Atlanta Progressive Preschool).
Read more at the bottom of this article.


After a long and patient search for a better school for Anton, Doug and I believe we've found the right one. Check that. We KNOW we have. Below is my story and review of the Kingswood School:

Anton was previously going to The Kingswood School here in our Dunwoody neighborhood, located inside the Kingswood United Methodist Church. It was recommended by a neighbor and was conveniently located 2 miles from home. Never having been a parent before, I didn't do much searching into researching schools back when he was only 2. I assumed because I was a Christian (at least I thought I still was) that he'd be safer and warmer in a church school and I liked the daily trip to the chapel as part of his routine there - liked the idea that he'd be exposed to spirituality.

Well, now that I'm not a Christian anymore, my notion of spirituality has drastically changed. And since I've been in therapy with Debra, an Emotional Intuitive, we've done lots of digging into my past, through my body, to unearth all kinds of notions I had about life that no longer serve me. In fact, they've started really hurting me. One of those, was my tie to the church. NO, it's not a bad place at all. Just my idea and deep knowing about God is so much larger than one religion can picture and preach. So I left last summer and began healing some pretty deep self-inflicted wounds in the process. Yes - I aim to take full responsibility for my life and choices. Everything that hurts was initiated by me at some point. And NO, I'm not there yet fully. Just on my way and trying to trust the process.

So. Back to Anton. He did just fine as a 2.5 year-old at Kingswood. By the mid-year parent/teacher conference, though - he got very low scores on their checklist of what they thought toddlers should be able to do and our teacher (her first year as a teacher/no teaching degree whatsoever) suggested he be tested. This left a really bad taste in our mouths. Anton acted just like all the other kids his age did and he was happy. So we shrugged their assessment of him, especially since before the end of that year - he was doing all the things on their list they said he couldn't. I remember his teacher telling me "we're no experts." And I wondered at why they'd give an expert opinion if they in fact weren't.

The very same thing happened this year. We had a first time teacher assess Anton with her list and suggest he be tested and asked if I was concerned. I said no, that I had trust in Anton's timing of things. She said he reminded her of her son and that both of her sons had Aspbergers (high-functioning autism.) I asked her then if she was suggesting Anton had Aspbergers. "Oh, no. I'd never attempt to diagnose a child." And with that statement, she gave herself away.

I was then struck with the memory of a conversation I had with the director of Kingswood. She told me how much progress Anton had made and reminded me of the fact that I'd first walked into the school carrying him. (And she thought this was bad. He was two. TWO.) She told me that because Anton was not yet verbal, he was controlling us and his world with grunts and sighs with the correct inflection, but that this was somehow a bad thing.

Guess what. Anton talks now. Just fine. And I know lots of boys who have delayed speech, etc and just get there at their own sweet pace.

There is a shimmering hum of panic and judgement at that school. At every turn, I was told Anton was a sweet boy, but not smart enough or fast enough. He never measured up. At least not at their dictated pace.

And I thought to myself, "Why am I sending my son into a learning environment that is mostly worried about measuring up?" He's being assessed. All the time. And not just Anton, but Doug and I as parents.

In comes my chance encounter with the Turning Sun School. Well, not by chance, really. But by God, I really believe. I walked into the Director's office and nearly cried. I told her my story about Kingswood and she assured me that she and many other parents had been down my path. Anton just wasn't in the right school. And no one was happy.

I, in particular, was smothered by this sense of doom that I wasn't giving Anton enough at Kingswood. I was sending him to a school that looked, felt and preached just like the ones I went to in the 70's. By now their approach is archaic. Nothing about them was new. Nothing was different, nothing revolutionary. No real story or process about this pace caught my eye or intrigued me or tugged at my heart. I was bored. So was Anton.

There are so many different schools out there with different histories, different agendas, different beliefs, different philosophies. Not every school is right for every kid or every family. And the process of finding the right one can be really scary. It was for me.

At the Atlanta Progressive Preschool, Anton's experience has been profoundly happy with just two visits and one full day as a student there on Friday. He sings a clean up song now and woke up this morning, listing all the fun things he did at the school after his first full day.

I spent an hour at a seminar Friday morning about an introductory lesson on the Reggio Emilia Approach, which the school has now officially adopted. Its history is as fascinating as watching the process occur today. Listening to the stories of teachers, parents and directors, I had to keep from crying - it resonated so strongly with me. This is the parenting/educational approach to Anton's young life that I have been looking for.

One of many reasons why Turning Sun is thought of as progressive is that while other schools MOLD, DICTATE TO and CORRECT children as they learn. They very directly teach kids information to memorize. The TS teachers watch with wonder as the kids learn and they support each child's individual approach to an activity, find a way in and act as a guide and facilitator, not as a dictator. None of them say to the kids, "Watch and learn. This is how it's done. Do it my way." Which is what most of us grew up with. These TS teachers, (who I'm beginning to think really are angels) watch and learn the kids themselves, and then construct projects of learning that the entire class can take part in. If the kids are all about dinosaurs, then the teachers facilitate a very thorough exploration of that subject of infinite lessons, realizations, philosophies, etc. Check out the mind map at the top of this article. It's one of the many in the older three class. And they explore all of these avenues!!

Here's a powerful statement from the Reggio Emilia site:
The Reggio Emilia approach to education is committed to the creation of a learning environment that will enhance and facilitate children's construction of his or her own powers of thinking through the combination of all the expressive, communicative and cognitive languages.

It's magical because guess what - that kind of freedom to say, "I'll learn about life through my own unique interests and what makes me tick. That's what turns me on and what turns me on, I'll get good at and that'll be my gift to myself and my community" is how we adults, the most successful and happy ones, live our own lives. And poof, before you know it, I'm a person with a lifetime of knowledge and experience and love that all started with the fertilization of my unique seed of wonder.

After Anton's first full day of school, his teacher remarked in wonder and enjoyment to me how cool it was that he was more interested in the wheels and construction of the Sensory Table (lots of sparkly rocks and pebbles and beads inside this deep table) than in the contents of the table. She thought he was mechanical. And she loved this.

So, OH MY GOODNESS, he's in the right place. He is SEEN. He is noticed. He is appreciated and supported for what makes him tick. He's not measured. And the atmosphere in all the classrooms is so magical. It is peaceful and exciting at every turn. Even the 3 year olds are baking muffins and cookies, they plant gardens, they compost, the recycle, they spend time in the "studio." Anton calls this the "Art School" which really makes me cry (in a good way!). Talk about full circle! And parents are required to provide 15 hours of service for the school in whichever gift you'd want to share most. They want you involved and believe we add to their diversity. Their approach is so different. And I need these teachers as parenting models as much as Anton needs support learning.

I feel like a different parent. I really do. I see more opportunities now to really lengthen Anton's perceptions - to find out who he really is - to aid him in his discoveries. To celebrate his assumptions, not to correct them when he's wrong. When you correct, you halt the flow of discovery - the chance for him to find his own way. You promote the cycle of negativity that our culture is so reluctant to let go of.

So wow. There is a reason for everything. And this new adventure I'm on as a parent JUST became infinite fun. Anton won't be the only one with an enlarged and ever-budding sense of wonder. His mom will, too.

PS: At Kingswood, they used to take Anton's hat off after I'd dropped him off. And he's a hat person. We have an ever-growing collection of his hats that hang on hooks in the foyer. He picks one before going out each morning and reaches for one if his head is without one. And guess what. Anton still had his hat on when I picked him up at APP. No one ever made him take it off. :) Rock ON, little man. You're an amazing boy at an amazing school.

***Update: 12. 14. 2011
I'm adding a little more information here about why Anton no longer goes to the Turning Sun School.

After about a year at TS, we had Anton tested and realized that he had speech delays. A few behavioral problems started cropping up and after further testing, we discovered that Anton had SPD (Sensory Processing Disorder.) So we were searching for a new school for him AGAIN. We found one. Coralwood. Fabulous place with just the right mix of structure, guidance and love. Turns out TS was a bridge for Anton, but not the right school for him, especially for kids with sensory issues or special needs. We found the environment to be incredibly supportive and warm, but ill equipped (as was I) to help Anton out with his sensory issues. 

Turning Sun's organic (child-led, teacher-supported) structure made Anton feel even less secure than he was already feeling. The free-form playtime he interpreted as overwhelming chaos and he had no space to call his own. For a child with both sensory seeking and sensory sensitive sensitive behavior, the Reggio Emilia approach was lost on him, especially in such a young school (they were just 2 years old when we arrived at The Atlanta Progressive Preschool (Turning Sun's original school) whose grasp on the Reggio concept was still in its infancy. Anton was lost. And it was really tough to watch him struggle.

In retrospect, I think TS is super fabulous for parents with typically developing kids. And the community of parents there is really fun and engaging, too. I've made great friends through the school and loved the creative and nurturing approach to parenting and community involvement many of us share. But I believe it is not the right place for many kids who have any kind of social anxiety, shyness, or sensory sensitive issues. The sensory opportunities given to Anton were done in an environment suited for a broad range of children. Turning Sun really isn't set up for one on one work with kids with sensory sensitive issues. We had begun to brush Anton, but the school wasn't able to brush him, or could allow me to come in and brush him. They did the very best they could for him, with the limited resources they had available. And that is really the most I could ask of anyone.

Anton also needed to have all of his activities presented to him framed within the opportunity to make the "better choice." He needed to be presented with the idea of consequences, rather than punishment. TS does not condone the idea of "punishment" and neither do I. But his mind and body were so out of control at the time, he really needed boundaries spelled out to him in ALL CAPS so that he could think clearly while trying to "make the best choice." Most typically developing kids don't need that kind of guidance at every opportunity. And this was ultimately why we were asked to leave TS. It just wasn't safe for him or his friends anymore.

Leaving the TS was gut-wrenching - for us and for the school. And not the way we would have wanted it to happen. We were all crying by the time we said goodbye. The school was very compassionate and kind, as they had been all along during this process, despite their argument that more structure was never the right answer for any child. It certainly was/is for Anton. But I'm still glad for the experience. I learned a valuable lesson, which is that EVERY approach to education has value. They are all different, all useful, and as a parent, you've just got to take the time to research each school and their platforms to find the right one for your child and your whole family. Listen to your gut. LISTEN to your child. Though it might make you uncomfortable, the Truth is always the right answer because it is tailor made for your life, coming from your source of inner wisdom. 

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Calligraphic names

Here's a couple's names I did in contemporary copperplate - a la Anne Elser (tee hee) a few months back. I think I forgot to post it then I was so busy! This is Sarah and Jack - a lovely couple and terrific to work with.