Imagine a warm fall day in the mountains. Now imagine a bunch of art teachers walking among the trees and gathering leaves, acorns, dried grasses, and branches. That describes our Tree Huggers outdoor art workshop offered at CAEA Southern Area Conference, held amidst the pines at Idyllwild, California.
Our sculptures were inspired by the Tree Hugger Project by Agnieszka Gradzik and Wiktor Szostalo. Tree Hugger Project installations feature large-scale figures created from branches and vines gathered on site. Copenhagen, St. Louis and New York City have had Tree Hugger Project installations.
Workshop participants created their own tree huggers using gathered cones, grasses, and branches. The instructor provided corn husks and raffia to bind the figures.
When doing this project with children, you may want to let them gather for a set amount of time. Just in case, you may want to have extra branches and leaves on hand.
Art teachers had a great time making these sculptures. Imagine how Tree Huggers would look in your town, created from your own regional (and seasonal) gathered materials.
Thanks to our instructor, Dr. Kenneth Sakatani, for leading the Tree Hugger workshop at CAEA Southern Area Conference.
Dale Chihuly is an American artist known for his fanciful, organic-shaped glass sculptures. Here is a group art project inspired by Chihuly’s ceiling installation at the Bellagio in Las Vegas. Our project turned out so well I installed it on my art room ceiling!
basket-type coffee filters, various sizes
watercolor markers (such as Crayola)
assorted plastic cups and bottles for drying
newspaper or other table covering to protect drying surface
The Art Project:
Students colored their coffee filters with Crayola markers. We did a quick review of the color wheel before coloring: students should select analogous colors, or use warm or cool color combinations. Avoid complementary color choices – the colors will muddy when sprayed.
Students DO NOT have to color every inch of the coffee filter! Leave some white space – the colors will run together when sprayed with starch.
Spray and Assemble:
Cover a table with newspaper. Set up old plastic tubs, bottles, etc. Invert coffee filter over the tubs and spray with spray starch. The colors will run and blend. Let dry over night.
Hot glue the flat bottoms of the dry coffee filters to a sheet of tag board. I punched holes around the edge of the tag board, and used T-pins to pin the artwork into my acoustic ceiling tiles.
(Guess what? My ‘Bellagio’ ceiling didn’t set off the motion sensor alarm. Hurray!)
Dale Chihuly makes fantastic, organic-shaped glass sculptures. They are in collections all over the world. This summer I saw the Chihuly chandelier at San Diego’s Mingei International Museum and participated in a group art project taught by art educator Jackie Hwang.
colored permanent markers (colored Sharpies or Art Color permanent markers)
pipe cleaners for assembling chandelier
UPDATE: single-hole punch
UPDATE: OPTIONAL rubbing alcohol and cotton balls
Jackie photocopied a spiral onto overhead transparencies. She made two sizes of spirals – a full sheet size, and a half sheet size containing two spirals.
The Art Project:
Families colored the spirals and cut them out, then turned them in to Jackie for assembly. Coloring time depended on the complexity of the design (but took FAR less than 30 minutes).
UPDATE: carefully punch each spiral on the tiny dot at the center of each spiral.
UPDATE: OPTIONAL: You may experiment with smearing the spirals with a cotton ball lightly dampened with rubbing alcohol. This will cause the colored sharpie to smear and blend. It’s a different look, and it takes extra time. Totally optional!
Jackie created the chandelier form using a mix of the large and small spirals. She used a couple of pipe cleaners to suspend the spiral clusters.
Jackie’s project is perfect for grades K-6. It would be super for art teachers on a cart, or art teachers that teach at multiple schools. You could fit the photocopied transparencies and all the other materials you need for this project in a tote bag.
Here is a 4-minute video of Dale Chihuly from the CBS morning show
Special Notice for San Diego Teachers and Parents:
Teachers: Do you want to take your class to the Mingei Museum? The Mingei provides free admission for all K-12th grade tours as long as they’re scheduled in advance.
Parents: The Mingei is free to San Diego county residents and military the third Tuesday of the month. Monthly Family Sundays offer admission and fun activities for just $5/family. Go to www.mingei.org for more details.
Coming up in the next post: two more Chihuly-inspired projects.
We had a fabulous time all week at my Paris-themed art and cooking camp. On the last day, we wrapped up our sculpture project and made yummy chocolate fondue.
A couple of campers wanted to make animal sculptures. They used foil and plaster or white Sculpey polymer clay to create their creatures. Not so Parisian, but I love how they turned out.
The recipe for chocolate fondue was the easiest of all our recipes this week: 8 oz. of chopped semi-sweet chocolate heated with 1/3 cup of half-and-half. Pound cake cubes, whole strawberries and sliced banana tasted delicious dipped in the warm chocolate.
So much fun!