In my school district, the 3rd graders have art for two 45 minute classes per week. This allows me to do a few more complicated projects with the extra time. Two years ago we were invited to participate in a special nature-themed exhibit. This project was developed for that exhibit. It took 5 class periods to complete (2 1/2 weeks).
The 3rd grade class learned about the work of glass artist Dale Chihuli. Although we do not have the means to work with glass in our art studio, we did experiment with a few ways to imitate the effect. First, students learned how to roll an even slab of clay with wooden slats. They draped their slab over a plastic bowl to create a form similar to Chihuli’s “Macchia”. Since Chihuli’s work can often be found in natural settings, we turned our glazed “macchia” into dish gardens where real vines live side by side with “glass trees” made from melted plastic cups. The results were so much fun that I had to share them.
Note to teachers:
Melting large quantities of plastic in your oven is not great for your lungs! Make sure you have proper ventilation. These cups are similar to the ones we used. They can easily be found at any grocery store.
Our school orders clay supplies from Portland Pottery.