Birthstone Art Project

Project Goal: This birthstone drawing project helps students celebrate one another’s birthdays, teaches geometric shapes, radial design and symmetry, and ties into an inspiring poem.

Recommended Ages: This project was primarily designed for middle-school through high-school age youth to make art that would lead to discussion. 

Step 1: Identify each student’s birth month and stone.

Step 2: Show students gem stones or pictures of stones representing their month. Explain process of shaping stones. 

Brilliant cut facet: The most common cut for a diamond is the brilliant cut; it consists of 58 facets spread over two faces, which are separated by a girdle. 

 

Step 3: Teach students to use a ruler, compass, triangle, protractor and graph paper to draw some of the most popular gem cuts including cuts like princess, cushion, emerald, step, trillion, table, heart, rectangular, round, brilliant, radiant, rose and so on.

Step 4: Read Poem (below).

Our True Heritage
The cosmos is filled with precious gems.
I want to offer a handful of them to you this morning.
Each moment you are alive is a gem,
shining through and containing earth and sky,
water and clouds.
It needs you to breathe gently
for the miracles to be displayed.
Suddenly you hear the birds singing,
the pines chanting, see the flowers blooming,
the blue sky,
the white clouds,
the smile and the marvelous look
of your beloved.
You, the richest person on Earth,
who have been going around begging for a living,
stop being the destitute child.
Come back and claim your heritage.
We should enjoy our happiness
and offer it to everyone.
Cherish this very moment.
Let go of the stream of distress
and embrace life fully in your arms.
 
Step 5: Have students discuss the significance of this poem for them. What are their strengths that make their lives rich? How are our differences also our strengths? Like the cutting of a gem stone, what life experiences have shaped and polished  you to allow your greatness to shine? For our high school students, this project also often leads to discussions around horoscopes, astrology, astronomy, color, and flowers representing each month, crystal healing, the placebo effect. It has also led to more serious discussions of environmental and child labor effects of mining, synthetic lab created stones, and my favorite- birthday cake preferences!

Reflection: In a world where more and more seems to be expected of us, I often share my desire to ask questions that help co-workers and students tap into their “super powers”, which for me is the stories we tell about ourselves and how adversity has shaped us to be more beautiful. This poem from “Call Me By My True Names” The Collected Poems of Thich Nhat Hanh is one of my favorites and does just that – it taps us into our limitless beauty with a moment of mindfulness 

In addition to using this poem while teaching the drawing of our students’ birth stones, we have used this poem to open walking meditation which includes nature walks for students, leaf collecting for printmaking in playgrounds, and drawing trees and birds in neighborhood parks where we often also bring different stones and discuss and teach geology

 
 

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