I can’t ever teach a sculpture unit without mentioning Dale Chihuly and his GORGEOUS glass sculptures. A few weeks ago, I took my daughter to Fairchild Tropical Botanic Gardens. Every year on the anniversary of my mother-in-law’s death, I try to plan a special field trip to a place I know “Grandma Meg” would have liked taking us. Besides gorgeous landscapes of exotic palms, lakes with wading birds and soft-shell turtles, butterfly gardens, and trails enshrouded in endless displays of orchids, Fairchild boasts a permanent Chihuly installation.
Chihuly’s glass installations are formed with a variety of hand-blown organic forms. You can see a little more of the artist’s process here: Chihuly-Through the Looking Glass.
Obviously, using sand and fire with little ones isn’t such a great idea, so I came up with my own way of creating a “glass-like” form using recycled materials.
This lesson is suitable for kindergarten through adult.
Here’s how you can make this Project Artwork at home:
- pool noodle
- 8 oz water or soda bottle
- acrylic paints
- medium size paint brush
- 4-8 coffee filters
- pan watercolors or water-soluble markers
- Sharpie permanent markers
- Cellophane cut into 6-8-inch squares or circles (I buy cellophane at Party Supply stores and sometimes find it at Dollar Stores)
- 1 clothespin
- (optional) hot glue gun and hot glue sticks
- (optional) hole puncher
- (optional) pipe cleaners
- (optional) various trims, beads, pom poms, etc.
Cover your work table with newspaper or old party tablecloth.
Cut a 3-inch piece off the end of your pool noodle with a bread knife.
Using scissors, cut off the bottom 3/4 of the water/soda bottle. Save the smaller mouthpiece end for the project.
Fill the 3/4 inch bottom of bottle with water for rinsing your paintbrushes.
Set out a paper towel for blotting paintbrushes and wiping up spills.
Set up a palette of acrylic paint colors on a small paper plate.
Step 1: Paint Inside of Bottle Piece with Acrylic Paint
Paint the INSIDE ONLY of the bottle while holding it in one hand. Do not use an overly wet brush, or the paint will run out the bottom. Paint the smaller, mouthpiece opening first, then the middle, and then the top near the larger opening. DO NOT PAINT THE OUTSIDE OF THE WATER BOTTLE. You will be adding Sharpie details on the outside later and you want to try and preserve the shiny, glass-like finish of the water bottle.
Place the painted water bottle piece into the pool noodle to dry, discard your acrylic paint palette, rinse your brush, dry your work area, and move on to Step 2.
Step 2: Paint the Coffee Filters with Watercolors
Make sure you have dried your work area and placed your water bottle in the pool noodle to dry. Then paint your desired pattern on each coffee filter.
Hint: less water will make the colors brighter and more intense. It is not necessary to wet the coffee filters with water first, as this will only dilute the colors.
Because the color seeps right through the coffee filter, it is not necessary to paint both sides.
Step 3: Drying Time!
I know, I know, it’s a bummer to have to wait for things to dry, so go grab a snack, read a book, have a nice little walk outside, or draw in your sketchbook. In other words, go have fun doing something else for a little while, because you can’t move on until all these pieces are 100% DRY!
Step 4: Draw Details with Sharpie Markers
You can put patterns and designs on the OUTSIDE of the bottle,
on the edges of your coffee filters,
or even on the pool noodle.
Step 5: Hole Punch the Water Bottle if You Think You Want to Add Pipe Cleaners.
Pipe cleaners may also be poked into the pool noodle later, so it’s okay if you forget to do this now.
Step 6: Assemble All the Pieces
There is no right or wrong way to do this. Coffee Filters may be placed in the top of the water bottle or sandwiched between the bottle and the pool noodle.
Cellophane can be grabbed from the center of the square and pinched into a bundle with other cellophane and coffee filters. The clothespin works great to hold it all together and then pops easily into the large opening of the bottle. Or you may choose to wrap your whole pool noodle in a piece of cellophane tying it together with a pipe cleaner.
You are basically trying to come up with an arrangement of cellophane, coffee filters, pool noodle and bottle, that is fun and creative.
Step 6: Add Details and Glue
Now is the time to add the beads, pipe cleaners, pom-poms, as little accents to the 3-D form you have just assembled. Once you and your child have everything in place, take a few moments to glue down anything that seems loose. I like the glue-gun for this task–it’s super quick- just be careful not to burn yourself because it does seep through the coffee filters!
Take a look at these glass-inspired beauties!
As you can see the possibilities are endless!
Want More Chihuly Inspiration? Visit the NORTON MUSEUM OF ART and get a serious neck-ache while looking at the Chihuly ceiling!