The process of creating the 2018 Guidecraft catalog cover An interview with fine artist and art teacher, Patipat "Tae" Chaiwitesh
"With weaving, kids can build their patterning skills through the repetition of process."
GC: What is your plan for the activity and art lesson today?
Today we will start with a warm up exercise. I will read a book to the children so that they can discuss and share their thoughts. This is a great way to let the kids get more comfortable with each other, for a more natural and fluid experience. Then we’ll move to IO Blocks. I will let the kids explore and see what IO Blocks can do. That way, the children can learn the building language and basic functions of the toy so that they can come up with their own creations. Then, I’ll ask them to create their own patterns from IO Blocks to lead into the lesson. In this activity I will teach about negative space, positive space, how shapes connect to each other, and how to repeat units. After this, we will move into the Art Lesson.
The Lesson is sort of like Thai weaving, which is normally done with materials found in nature. However, for this lesson I set up material stations using various shapes and forms of felt and paper. Children can select the pieces that they want to use to make their art themselves, so that their work is more natural and sincere. When kids work with different shapes, they will combine them and create new shapes and forms. For example, when you put a triangle next to a circle, you create a new form. Kids will be able to use their imagination and problem-solving skills to bring their ideas to life and put it on paper.
GC: How is your work and building with IO Blocks similar?
IO Blocks are similar to the unit block, and have similar forms and functions that are the same. The shared forms that IO Blocks have naturally invite patterning. IO Blocks are also objects that were created to be combined to build a new form. However, not every piece can connect together 100 percent. There are some parts that cannot connect. I think this is where IO Blocks and my work are similar, because I believe that not everything is for everything. Every object has its own perfection.
GC: Do you have any observations after teaching the Art Lesson?
Children have their own imagination. In their mind, they know what they like and what they don’t like, so we can’t direct them too much. It’s impossible. We need to let them do what they want first and then guide them. Show them a way to do it. Then kids can run the rest of the show by themselves using their own imagination. IO Blocks and the Art Lesson are both centered around building and connecting. Where they differ, is that IO Blocks are objects specifically created for building and in the Art Lesson, we used objects that aren’t normally used for that purpose. Now you have to figure out a way to connect them as well. We chose weaving them into place as the connection. Working with either one is about finding a solution. It’s all about problem solving.
GC: What was your favorite toy when you were a child?
When I was a kid, I liked robots that could transform and reform. For example, you could change the legs to make it into a car, or change the head to make a plane. I liked to play with mechanichal stuff, especially race cars. Do these toys and my experiences with them influence my process? Yes. Those toys always had mechanics, and when I design products, I always think of those mechanics.