Our family loves the arts, and we also love creating our own works of art. A few months back I read about a very cool art project for kids on the blog Mary Making and it inspired me to do a similar project with my children. The project was to create a plastic sculpture that resembles one of Dale Chihuly’s fantastic glass sculptures. My friend makes sculptures and she gave me a sculpture base to get me started. I wanted this to be an all-encompassing project, where we learned about the artist before embarking on the actual art project. I think that the idea of exposing children to famous works of art in order to inspire creativity within them is a brilliant idea. And we are lucky to have some fabulous museums in our area, so I decided to take advantage of our local art museum and do our own family project, a Dale Chihuly-inspired sculpture. You only need a few supplies, and this can last for hours. We even stretched out our project over several days. Our journey began with trips to Museums, and ended with my children having learned about an artist and creating their own masterpiece.
Chihuly Sculptures in Museums:
First we went to the Cincinnati Art Museum to visit the beautiful Dale Chihuly sculpture that hangs in the front lobby of the museum. It is a gorgeous blue glass sculpture called Rio Delle Torreselle Chandelier. The kids and I spent quite a while underneath this sculpture talking about how it was made, and what it looked like to them (the answers included fish, snakes, blue grass, flowers, and more). Have I mentioned how beautiful it is?
Also over the summer we visited the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis (which is an amazing place to take the kids!) where there is another Dale Chihuly sculpture: Fireworks of Glass. And that’s exactly what it looks like, fireworks. This sculpture was awesome because there was an exhibit at the museum oriented around (or shall I say “under”) the sculpture. You could lay back on a rotating couch and look up at the sculpture. It was as if you were inside of a kaleidoscope. There were also hands on activities for the kids, like using plastic pieces replicating the glass pieces to make their own sculptures. Very very cool stuff. This piece is Chihuly’s largest permanent installment, and is made up of over 3,000 pieces of glass and weighs 18,000 pounds.
The kids were fascinated by these sculptures. They have always loved exploring museums of all sorts, but this focus on Chihuly’s glass sculptures had intrigued them, and it was a great conversation starter for them. I loved hearing their imaginative and unique perspectives on the sculptures. It was fun for me to watch their young minds at work on this project. Dale Chihuly has installations all over the world, and I highly recommend you find one near you to visit. And then, if you’d like you could do this art project…because it is so much fun!
How to Create Your Own Chihuly Sculpture ::
First you gather your materials: Shrinky Dink paper (I found 8×11 sheets on Etsy – aka Polyshrink), sharpie markers (the more colors the better), an oven, and a hot glue gun.
How To: I cut the large pieces of polyshrink into smaller squares, circles, hearts, and other shapes. Then I let the kids loose with the permanent markers (an old plastic tablecloth is a must for this project). I worked right alongside of them, coloring my own pieces of plastic. We worked on these pieces over a period of several days, because it was a lot of coloring!
After you color each piece you heat them in the oven according to the directions on the package of the shrinkable paper. Keep a close eye on them, it doesn’t take long at all…when they start curling and shrinking yank them out of the oven. While they are still warm you can manipulate the plastic a bit into designs (carefully! adults only!).
Once all of the pieces are “cooked” and contorted into their funky shapes you can use the hot glue gun to mesh it all together into one big sculpture. We hung ours from the dining room chandelier. The kids were so proud of their work, and very excited about this project. And I was excited that they were interested in learning about artists and enjoyed our visit to the Art Museum. I am looking forward to doing a few more artist inspired projects in the future!
And thank you again to Mary Making for the great idea!