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School auction project info

Good morning! It's gray and rainy here, but I hope the sun is shining on all of you. I thought that I would write a little bit about each auction project we did to answer some of your questions. I really wish I could do tutorials for these, but I didn't take step-by-step photos and, honestly, I just don't have that kind of time right now. If you have specific questions, I'll do my best to answer them in the comments. OK? All right, let's get started.

Auction mosaic

1. Glue Batik Quilts (4th grade) - We used the glue batik explained by That Artist Woman in this post. Each 4th grade class has 23 students so I knew we needed a 4 x 6 grid. To make it a decent size throw blanket, I decided that 12" finished squares (12.5" unfinished) would work well. We started by cutting large pieces of white paper into 13" squares that the children drew their picture on. One class did an ocean theme, the other a sun theme. We did this so each quilt could have a unique color combination, making them similar to each other in technique, but entirely different in look.  Once the kids drew their pictures with pencil, they traced it with a black marker.  Then they put a 13" white fabric square on top of their drawing and traced the art with the gel glue.  I used Kona white for the fabric and cut the squares a 1/2" bigger than I needed so I could trim the squares to a uniform size.  When the glue was dry, the kids used watered down acrylic to paint over the glue relief. After the paint had dried, I brought all the squares home and washed the glue out of the fabric in the bathtub. This took a decent amount of time and a little elbow grease. Some paint came off the squares, especially on the ones that had been heavily painted. This didn't effect the final outcome - it actually took care of some of the squares that were a little crunchy with paint at the outset.  Once dry, I ran the squares through the washing machine on a cold cycle and dried them in the dryer on low heat. From that point, I trimmed them to 12.5" and sewed them together. The quilting was done freehand and with variegated thread. I used the same solid fabric for the back and for the binding.

2. Fingerprint Critter Desks (3rd grade) - This was Plan B. Plan A included kid art and decoupage and didn't really work out the way we had wanted so we scrapped it and moved on.  The solid wood chair desks were spraypainted and then using high adhesion latex paint, each child put their fingerprint(s) on a portion of the desk.  The next week we went back with a fine point Sharpie paint pen and turned the finger prints into critters, Ed Emberley style.

3. Eric Carle inspired canvases (2nd grade) - These are always a huge seller at our auction so I knew that we would do this again.  The art teacher handles this entirely by herself. The kids paint and pattern different papers and then cut them into shapes to make a collage on a canvas with a painted background. After the paper is glued to the canvas, it's sealed. I'm not sure what she uses for this, but I can find out if anyone needs to know. Different themes we have done over the past 3 auctions are: meadow, ocean, jungle, street scene, balloon race and fireworks over the city.

4. Tile mosaic planters and bird bath (6th grade) - I bought the pots and birdbath at a local garden center. I was able to find glass mosaic pieces at JoAnn's - they were kind of pricey. If I had more time, I would have searched online. The white background tile came from the bathroom section at Lowe's. I bought 4" ceramic tile and smashed it myself by putting it in a towel and hammering it.  To adhere the tile to the pots, we used liquid nails. I went this route because after googling "How to make a mosaic planter", this was suggested because both the tile and pot are porous. I really don't have much experience with tile work, but figured that I could manage it with a little research. I got super lucky, though, because a 6th grade parent took over and grouted and sealed everything for me. These were BIG sellers at the auction.

5. Rain barrels (5th grade) - I bought the rain barrels locally. They were the standard bright blue which I roughed up and painted using a spray plastic primer from Lowe's. After 2 coats of that, I continued with 3 coats of enamel spray paint in blue and green.  The kids then painted bugs/umbrellas using a high adhesion latex paint (I'm not sure what it was - it was donated by a parish family that owns a paint store). I then brushed on 3 coats of polyacrylic.  Sounds easy, but was actually very time consuming with all the dry time between coats.

6. Painted outdoor furniture (7th grade) - I think this one is self-explanatory. We used high adhesion exterior latex paint on a picnic table and adirondack chair and then I brushed on a couple coats of polyacrylic.

7. Photography (8th grade) - Another parent and I worked with the 8th graders on this. Using our DSLR cameras, the kids took photos of the architecture of our church, both inside and outside. We put the cameras on auto, encouraged them to look at things from interesting angles and asked that they take vertical shots so they'd all be the same perspective. Each child took 5 or 6 photos.  I went through all the photos, chose each child's best also trying not to have too many of the same object. Using photoshop, I turned them black and white, adjusted the contrast and made them into a mosaic. The mosaics each contain 12 photos, 4" x 6" in size, with a 1/4" boarder between shots.  I had the mosaics printed locally and then matted to fit 24" x 36" poster frames that were bought on sale at JoAnn's.

8. Advent calendars (1st grade) - Using markers, the kids drew ornaments on 3" square pieces of paper. The artwork was scanned into the computer and I printed it out on fabric.  I bought the printable fabric at JoAnn's on sale - I wasn't worried about it being the best quality as I figure these will likely never get washed.  After the artwork was printed, I attached the fabric sheets to felt using a spray adhesive (505 is the one I use) and stitched around the figures with about a 1/8" boarder.  I cut them around the stitching and attached a sticky-backed velcro dot on the back of each ornament.  To make the actual calendar, my friend and I stitched the numbers on 4" squares of red felt using embroidery floss. I drew the tree on felt, cut it out and sewed that and the squares on an off-white felt background with about 1/8" seam allowance.  To hang the calendars, I sewed a rod pocket at the top for a dowel that has a large length of red grosgrain ribbon tied in a bow.  We used acrylic felt for everything to keep the cost down.

9. Play tents (Kindergarten) - I made these two years ago and you can read about that project in this post. The process this time was exactly the same.  The bamboo came from Lowe's - it's way sturdier than the kind they have at my Home Depot.

Phew. There you go.

Some other things to mention:  Cost is always a concern when doing these projects.  With a little planning, you can do this on a budget. We spent $866.00 on 18 projects and brought in $6800. Not bad, huh? I use coupons from JoAnn's and Michael's like crazy. I have my friends save theirs for me so I can use more than one a week. I also shop the sales. I don't think I paid full price for more than a few things. Also, use your resources and find people who can donate items and supplies. Our 3rd grade desks were donated so the cost on those projects was minimal. The matting for our photography project was done at cost - local businesses are often willing to work with you especially if you mention them in your program or give them a big shout out at the auction.  Look for larger items at consignment, thrift and antique stores. Sometimes we base what we do around what we can find. If you have a carpenter friend, maybe they could build something simple for you to work with.  Finally, working with kids takes time. Give yourself a lot of it, and then add a couple extra weeks to be on the safe side. We had a few time setbacks that were out of our control - snow days, sick kids, etc. If you are finished early, bonus!

I think that's it. Questions? Fire away.



Wow. I know you had a lot of help, but wow. This is a such a great resource.


No wonder you don't have much time! What an impressive collection!


What a lot of work, but sounds like it was worth it, both for the funds raised and the creative experience for the children. Definitely better than making them sell magazines or wrapping paper.

Bettina Groh

Your ideas and results are fantastic and three huzzahs for the kids' artistic talents!! I am amazed and congratulate everyone on the results! And on the $$$ raised!!


Thank you for all the great ideas!


The ROI was fantastic. Thanks for sharing more details on all of the projects.


Thanks for taking the time to write all that up! I'm sure it will help many others with their fundraising efforts. I just wanted to also make sure you were aware that Joann has discounts for teachers and non-profits. It's not that much (10%), and it might not apply here, but it couldn't hurt to look into it. Every little bit helps, right? :-)

beverly hittle

Wow! That school is so lucky to have you! I hope they appreciate all you do for them, because I know that it had to be very time consuming. Plus, the projects were so creative & thoughtful. Job well done Erin! They look great & sounds like very successful!


Seriously! all of it.... Phew is right..kick up those feet! You did an awesome job with all of it.

krista - Poppyprint

Oh my gosh, I cannot believe how many projects you personally took on! That's an amazing contribution to your school community. Congratulations - that's a heap of money you raised. All of the items are super cool, but I love the photography project.


What a great project to throw your time into!! They are lucky to have your talents, but I'm guessing very fulfilling for you too... congrats!


One question on the mosaic pots. Were the pots and birdbath plastic or ceramic originally? I'm thinking plastic but not certain. : )
Thank you

Erin | house on hill road

They were both Terra cotta.


Thanks Erin


That is so great! They look wonderful!


You've inspired me so much that I just sent an email to my PTO fundraising committee.


I just caught up on your last ten or so posts, most of which were auction-related, and I gotta tell you - I'm exhausted. I cannot believe how much you did for the girls' school. Seriously, you're one awesome parent. And you managed to sneak a really cute haircut in there, too.


You, miss Erin, are a force of nature. My stars, your school must be cheering madly to have you.


Wow. Really, wow! Not only did you get all of that tremendous, terrific work done for the auction, but then you turned around and posted all of it in such detail! I enjoyed all of your ideas and am so grateful to you for sharing! Our little school's auction will benefit next year from your creativity! Thank you!!

Nicola@Which Name?

I love and appreciate that you shared these ideas. Our school does an auction as well and while I have personally contributed and shared that on my own blog, it never occurred to me to share what the parents pull together from each grade. Last year's huge hit was a quilt made by the kindergartners (they each did a square) and sewn by a willing parent. But art by the kids has also been a hit. (We bid on, won, and have some displayed in our house.)
Lovely post.
Warmly, Nicola

Gretchen Schock

Wow. I love all these projects! What wonderful ideas. A friend and I are brainstorming on how to create an art auction at our children's school. This post has been a huge help! Thank you.

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