Plaster Fish Sculpture

Vintage ad for Pariscraft plaster bandage fish sculpture. School Arts magazine, February 1972.

Vintage ad for Pariscraft plaster bandage fish sculpture. School Arts magazine, February 1972.

Check out these instructions for a plaster fish made on a balloon armature. This is an ad for Pariscraft plaster wrap I found in the February 1972 issue of School Arts magazine.

You’ll need the following materials :

  • Pariscraft or other plaster wrap
  • Balloon, 7-8″
  • Scissors
  • Old cereal box or light cardboard
  • Tape
  • Dowel
  • Wooden base
  • Acrylic paint
  • Old bowl for dipping

Doesn’t it look amazing? Can you imagine a display of these at the art show?

You can still get Paris Craft at Amazon. I have never used this brand – I’ve had great success with Pacon Plast’r Craft  plaster wrap. Click here to read my tips for handling plaster wrap in class.

Happy throwback Thursday! Stop by on Thursdays and see what else I’ve found in my stash of vintage art Ed magazines.


p.s. Remember – never pour plaster water down the drain!


note: this post contains affiliate links


Tree Huggers – Environmentally-Friendly Sculptures

tree huggers - CAEA 2013

Do you like to create art outdoors?

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.


tree hugger from CAEA 2013


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.


tree huggers from CAEA southern area conference 2013


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.


Easy Chihuly ‘Bellagio’ Ceiling

bellagio ceiling collage


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!


Chihuly bellagio



  • basket-type coffee filters, various sizes
  • watercolor markers (such as Crayola)
  • spray starch
  • assorted plastic cups and bottles for drying
  • newspaper or other table covering to protect drying surface
  • tag board
  • hole punch
  • hot glue

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!)

This project was inspired by one of the many projects in the Chihuly unit from Nashville public schools.

More Chihuly Resources:

The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis has an extensive virtual glassblowing interactive for kids.

Watch a variety of Chihuly videos on Yahoo Screen.

Check out my earlier post for a 30-minute group art chandelier.





30-Minute Chihuly Chandelier

30 minute chihuly chandelier

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.

Mingei Museum Chihuly Chandelier


  • Overhead transparencies (like these  – make sure they are made for photocopiers)
  • photocopier
  • colored permanent markers (colored Sharpies or Art Color permanent markers)
  • scissors
  • pipe cleaners for assembling chandelier
  • UPDATE: single-hole punch
  • UPDATE: OPTIONAL rubbing alcohol and cotton balls

spiral acetate chihuly


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 for more details.

Coming up in the next post: two more Chihuly-inspired projects.

What’s your favorite Chihuly project?

Art + Cooking Camp: Degas, Sculpture and Chocolate Fondue

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!


Let’s Go to Paris! Art + Cooking Camp
Day One: Crepes and Monet
Day Two: Madeleines and the Eiffel Tower
Day Three: Meringues and Degas
Day Four: Cherry Cake and Pointillism

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