Some excerpts from the book "Forever Hatter: Mad Tea Party Cookbook"
Wonderland Cafe is really coming to life. I can’t tell you how excited I am to see more and more of this project take shape. Last semester, I worked a lot on the images as well as the tech aspect (Internet safety). This time around, I’m bringing the food element in.
If you re-read the definition of the project, you’ll see what I mean:
Internet cafes, or cybercafes, are places that have computers available, usually for a fee, that you can use to go online. Internet cafes can be set up in actual eating/drinking establishments, cruise ships, or other types of locations.
Wonderland - A fictional country
Wonderland Cafe - A fictional cafe that exists in the mind and on the web. A place that brings together the coolest stuff that geek culture has to offer.
I was fortunate coming into my project-based learning class in that I already have a project going, which I started in Dr. Parlin’s graphic design class last semester. I was able to work on it in that class as well as add materials to it in my social media class.
So when I talked to Dr. Parlin about taking another class from her, she suggested this one. At that time, I was able to visit with her about some of the past projects that other students had turned in. She sent me a copy of an old syllabus for the class, and the more I read about the projects, the more excited I became. Project-based learning or PBL is what the class is all about. (See more about PBL here at this website.)
One project on that syllabus caught my eye. Unfortunately, I didn’t see it on the syllabus this time around, but in a nutshell, it was a culinary tour. Basically students were asked to discover where their food came from and write about that location. If memory serves, I believe that they also needed to get some recipes from that, too, and post those on the class website as part of the culinary tour.
This fit with the next stage of Wonderland Cafe for me. From the beginning, there was both a food and tech element to it, but I could only work on one at a time, so I chose tech last time around, which you see in the link that I provided.
This time around as I looked at the projects, I had something very specific in mind. I wanted to see how teachers used visual art in a project. I wanted that because I knew that once I found my students found the recipes for their food tour, I’d want them to draw and design a cookbook to publish.
This project allows them to learn about geography and anthropology (via food and cookbooks as material culture). It also encourages them to write their own cookbook and develop visual design and communication skills by illustrating the book.
Here are several art projects that I found in my research this week that touched on some element of this project. The food element was missing, but I already know about that due to my long experience working in the food industry. I’ve also published some cookbooks in the vein of what I’m talking about.
The Aesthetics of Wonderland
At the top of this blog post are some pictures of a book that I just released in the Wonderland Cafe series. You can see the visual aesthetics that carry over from the previous project. You can also see the influences of food and culture. This book talks about the difference between high and low tea in English society. It’s a tongue-in-cheek approach that I’ve always wanted to have with the project.
Dr. Parlin asked us to look at some of the projects on the BIE website for inspiration for our projects. I wanted to look at some projects that would complement the work I had already done on Wonderland Cafe, and I knew that I wanted to add an art element.
I also wanted students to develop some drawing skills, though I am not against them using some clip art in their work. I use it quite a lot, though I alter it and redesign it to fit the needs of my project. Whatever visuals the students produce need to offer a new take on the subject. I personally created new graphics for this cookbook by putting some Alice-in-Wonderland drawings by John Tenniel into Photoshop, and then remaking them. I added the checkerboard border, the writing, etc. Students will be allowed to do this, too, but I want them to do some drawing.
The following projects really helped to clarify my thinking about this. In other words, how did students use drawing and art to convey the visual communication aspects of their projects? These projects also gave me some ideas about elements that I hadn’t thought about including in my project. The maps that I mention later are an example of this.
The italicized sections represent the direct quotes that I took from each project.
Students have the opportunity to participate in a local community revitalization effort by developing a walking tour throughout town. Working in teams of four, students identify community landmarks that should be included on the walking tour, research history surrounding those landmarks using primary and secondary resources, and communicate their findings by writing and recording a narrative that will guide the tour.
Additionally, students will create a map on which landmarks will be identified and design an appropriate sign or marker to identify the stops along the tour. Each team will present its plan for a walking tour to members of the Community Revitalization Committee; one team’s plan will be selected for implementation.
The elements that appealed to me:
The tour, which touches on the geography element
The maps included in their work, adds both a visual and a geography element to this project
Students explore the transmission of folktales over time and continent to evaluate their validity as a literary genre. By reading and analyzing a variety of folktales, students will realize the cultural implications of the genre. Students will create and perform their own original folktale in the form of a script that combines and modernizes tales that they read.
The elements that appealed to me:
The folktales. This project started out embracing the modern fairy tale “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.” This book says a lot about English culture, including its history and customs. I want to continue this trend.
Students will explore the connection of local history and culture to their state’s artists and will discover how these artists created a sense of place with their artworks. They will accomplish this through research from online databases, print media, and interviews of people, and by sharing their investigations on a class blog. Using a medium and a shading technique of their choice, they will create drawings of meaningful places in their county.
Finally, each group will produce a virtual art gallery of their drawings, weaving their stories about the special places into this art gallery. Students will have the opportunity to be creative in this process. After their virtual art galleries are presented to parents and community members, their work will be published on the local newspaper’s website.
The elements that appealed to me:
The sense of place, developed through the artworks. Although my project will hopefully develop a sense of place or at least a sense of culture through the look in the book, the art should do this as well.
Students will assume the role of a working artist who specializes in ancient cultures. They will identify contributions of past civilizations and characteristics of artworks from different cultures to increase their understanding of the cultures. They will accomplish this through research from online databases, print media, and interviews of people.
Also, they will share their investigations on a class blog. Using the media and processes of the chosen culture, the students will create a three-dimensional artwork containing organic shapes and forms, symbols, and textures of that culture in order to experience the culture. The student artists will explain how their artworks reflect the influence of time and place during the opening of their art exhibit at the local library. Each group will be encouraged to present their presentations in an engaging and creative way.
The elements that appealed to me:
Students will be required to look at the evidence like archaeologists and identify the culture based on that. My students will do a similar thing with food as material culture in my project. They’ll need to look up the history of the food and where they find it.
For example, below are some of the videos that I looked at when I was looking up English culture and tea parties for a project.
What’s Missing Still
The students will need to gather some instructional materials on drawing and some information on food history (to give them more background information.) I can offer some suggestions for some books that they can read to help them with this aspect of their projects. They are, of course, also welcome to and encouraged to come up with more sources. However, given the size and scope of this project, I felt it was wise to help point them in the right direction. These books are also not necessarily mandatory reading if they can demonstrate that they acquired the information another way.
Books About Drawing and Art
Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain by Betty Edwards
How to Draw Comics the Marvel Way by Stan Lee and John Buscema
I have a foundation in drawing, but I would want to help participant gain some observation skills through drawing. “Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain” teaches that.
The other books teach art students how to look at the basic shapes present within each form. Most physical forms can be broken down into basic circles, squares, triangles, etc. The books by John Buscema, Stan Lee, and Mark Crilley all cover this.
I learned from my graphic design class that people respond faster to visual elements in text. They also comprehend the text better and faster with visuals if the visuals complement the subject. Recipe books are a good choice for that because these students can draw different foods, measuring cups, spoons, and other types of visual elements needed to make a cookbook visually understandable.
Books About Food History and Material Culture
Food history can be fascinating. Even the way that a menu is put together says a lot about the culture that developed it. Doing a cookbook project allows students to look at the origins of food and recipes in a cultural context. I must admit, having grown up in a diner family, I took this history for granted. Truthfully, it seemed a bit too mundane for my tastes…(pun intended.)
Here are two books that students can start with to give them a good overview of food history and to help them start thinking about the projects that they might want to do. While my particular personal focus on this project has been tea time and the food of the Victorian era, the students creating these projects won’t be limited to that. They can choose whatever type of cuisine, era, or food type (breakfast, lunch, dinner, dessert) that they’d like.
Here are some resources for them:
A History of Food in 100 Recipes by William Sitwell
Food and Culture Edited by Carole Counihan and Penny Van Esterik
Final Thoughts Before Leaving the Rabbit Hole
"Forever Hatter, " the coloring book that I created for this project over the last month is finally out.
The Kindle version, which technically is just a cookbook and not a coloring book. However, it offers a see-inside feature that shows you what the pages look like.
On a personal note, I’m excited about this project because this is the first book that I am dedicating to my dad. I get my drawing and graphic design skills from him. In doing this project, I am in a way following my own family history down the rabbit hole. It’s definitely been worth the trip!