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.





Heritage Self-Portraits

heritage self portraits

Thinking about a self-portrait project? This project starts as a basic self portrait but turns into a family ancestry art project when students add in national flag designs. This lesson uses basic materials and takes just two 40-minute classes. It comes straight from the wonderful Artisan Des Arts blog.


  • White drawing paper, 12″x18″
  • Pencils and erasers
  • Chisel-tip markers (we used Mr. Sketch)
  • reference photos of national flags

We began by looking at the great student examples on the Artisan Des Arts blog post. Then I asked the students, “Where does your family come from?” After a quick discussion,  Next we looked at flags of the world. Then the students drew their portraits in pencil.

Because most of our students have mixed heritage, they had the option of using multiple flags in their design.  It was up to them to figure out their own designs. The most common choice was to have one flag design on the face and a second on the shirt.

As a final touch, students had the option of cutting out their self-portraits and mounting them to construction paper.

I really look forward to our next art show.  I think the parents will be THRILLED to see their heritage honored in this project.

heritage self portrait 2

heritage self portraits 1

heritage self portrait 3

What a fabulous lesson plan! I will definitely repeat next year. Thanks to Aly at Artisan des Arts for sharing this great project.

Do you have a special twist on a portrait project?

Canal House Reflections


canal house reflections print

Third graders just finished making reflection prints. They made reflections of the canal homes in Amsterdam, and they just loved the printing process.


  • white paper, 9″x12″ (we used sulphite paper)
  • watercolor markers (we used Mr. Sketch)
  • oil pastels (we used Crayola)
  • spray bottle

Day 1:

We looked at photos of canal homes in Venice, Italy and Amsterdam. The third graders were excited to see houses that had canals out front instead of streets! We looked at this photo of Amsterdam canal houses, and paid special attention to the reflection of the houses in the water.

Houses in Amsterdam reflected in canal.

Houses in Amsterdam reflected in canal. Photo source:

Then we looked at this beautiful artwork, ‘Canal Homes of Amsterdam’ by San Diego artist Grant Pecoff. Students noticed  how the reflection was wavy, probably because of waves on the canal. They also noticed the roof tops were a little wavy as well!

Canal Homes of Amsterdam by San Diego artist Grant Pecoff

Canal Homes of Amsterdam by San Diego artist Grant Pecoff.

Time for the art project!

canal house collage


1. Fold paper ‘hot dog style’. On the upper half, make canal houses. Color the sky completely.

2. Take artwork to the printing station. Spray the lower half of their artwork with water.

3. Fold the colored half down and rub.

4. Open carefully. If the color didn’t transfer to the bottom half, spray a little more water and try again.

Let dry.

Canal house reflectionsDay 2:

The dry artworks looked great. However, we noticed the top half was a little blurry after printing. The students re-outlined the buildings on the top half of their reflections. Then they re-colored the top half with matching oil pastels.

After the reflection has dried,  outline top half with sharpie, and color with matching oil pastels.

After the reflection has dried, re-outline top half and color in with matching oil pastels.

 canal house reflection

We mounted these without left and right borders so they can be displayed side by side, just like real canal houses!

This lesson was adapted from this fun lesson on the Fine Lines blog. To learn more about San Diego artist Grant Pecoff, and see more of his colorful artworks, please visit his website .



‘Tie-Dye’ Butterfly

It’s spring! Time for a butterfly art project. How about a lesson that delivers perfect symmetry, color and fun in only one 40-minute session?


  • round (basket) coffee filter paper, white (available at the dollar store)
  • Sharpies
  • watercolor markers (we used Crayolas)
  • pencils
  • spray bottle of water


  1. flatten coffee filter
  2. fold filter in half.
  3. use sharpie to draw 1/2 a butterfly on the folded paper.
  4. Trace over all the Sharpie lines again (this helps transfer ink to the other half of the filter paper).
  5. Open the paper. 
  6. Retrace all the faint lines with Sharpie.
  7. Re-fold the paper into its original position.
  8. Color the folded paper using watercolor markers. We used warm and neutral colors for the butterfly, and cool colors for a band around the edge of the paper.
  9. Place folded filter paper on drying rack, colored side facing up.
  10. Spray with water. I try to saturate the paper (note: put some newspaper on the floor under your drying rack to catch the colored drips).
  11. Let dry before removing from rack.

I love the faux tie-dye effect created by the diffused color. I also love the round format. Bonus: coffee filters are available at the dollar store! So this project costs a couple of cents.

Second graders use Sharpie and crayola marker to make symmetric butterflies. Allow one 40 minute session.

Inspiration for the Sharpie/coffee filter/watercolor marker method goes to Kati Oetken at ARTASTIC!

More coffee filter art experiments on this post.

Japanese Design Surprise

Don’t you just love a beautiful surprise? The third grade made Japanese fans from this post on ARTASTIC! . So much fun! After they dried, I opened the folded paper and discovered these:






This happy accident occurred because the students
1) completely colored 1/2 the round with watercolor marker
2) probably sprayed a lot of water on the folded filter paper (I let the kids spray their own papers. Not only that – I had a 3rd grader supervise the spraying process!)
3) used white crayon selectively as a resist for clouds, snow and fish scales
4) used new (wet!) sharpies for the black lines

I’m thinking symmetry or reflection project for next year.

Check out all the instructions on Kati Oetken’s ARTASTIC! Blog.

Have you had a beautiful surprise result? Do tell!

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