Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Chihuly Artist Study

Dale Chihuly is a glass artist who makes beautiful, colorful, gigantic glass pieces that fascinate kids.  He's also an exciting artist to study because he's still alive and creating.  And he looks like a pirate.  I'd never even heard of him until Crazy Bug and I went to the MFA.  In the middle of the museum there is a 40 ft glass sculpture entitled Lime Green Icicle Tower.  It's incredible to look at up close.  It glows in the the light on a sunny day.                                                                                                             Since Chihuly is a recent artist, we couldn't find a children's biography about him.  But the Indianapolis Children's Museum came to the rescue with their Chihuly unit for teachers.  It includes a two page biography that worked perfectly for us.  There are also online games and videos that allow children to explore glass work.

Our first project was to make "glass" bowls that explore color mixing.

Coffee filters
Washable markers
Water mister
Spray starch (try your local dollar store for a can)
Glasses, bowls, or tupperware

The process is pretty simple.

1.  Have your child decorate a coffee filter with markers.  Try different color combinations and patterns.  Feels free to swirl the colors all around each other.

2.  Mist the coffee filter lightly with water to help the colors start mixing.

3.  Lay down some newspaper and place upside-down glasses, bowls, or tupperware on top.

4.  Put each coffee filter over a bowl or glass and spray it with starch.  Use your finders to fold and mold the coffee filters into interesting shapes.

Crazy Bug loved this project so much that she made dozens of bowls.  They lay around our house until my mother suggest using them to make a flower garden on Crazy Bug's bedroom door.  I trimmed some green paper into a grass border and taped it to the bottom of the door, then added thick green ribbon stems.  We then tapped the bowls to the top of the stems to make flowers.  Too cute!

The second project was to make a free form "glass'' installation.  I picked up cheap clear plastic cups and stemmed glasses at the Dollar Tree and we colored them with permanent markers.  (Medium to light colored markers look best.  We painted the inside a few of the ones shown here with acrylic paint, but those turned out too dark and matte for my taste.)  I then placed them on a foil covered cookie sheet and broiled them for a couple of minutes until they started to melt.  Watch carefully and open all your windows!  Afterwards, I hot glued them together and hung them with strong thread.  This looks beautiful hung in front of a window where it will catch the light!

If you like near Indianapolis, go check out Fireworks of Glass!  We'll be soooo jealous!

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  1. Oh my gosh this is so cool! I've got to do this with my kids before we go to the new museum in Seattle this summer.

  2. Wow! I love these Dale Chihuly ideas! Thanks for sharing.

  3. Yesterday we had lunch at the Chihuly museum right below the Space Needle. We had just come from King Tut, so we didn't go into the museum itself, we only ate there. Anyhow, I pulled up your blog post on my husband's phone and it was SO PERFECT to show to my seven year old. It was a mini educational moment right there, thanks to you!

    I'm going to blog about it myself soon. I need to go buy spray starch first...