Sunday, September 22, 2013

Homeschool Art, saving the world, one child at a time.

Ok, saving the world might be an overstatement.

In fact, the fumes released from this project might have contributed to green house gasses, killed 50 or 60 of my brain cells...and 3 frogs living near our house.

But, it does use junk destined for the trash dump, so we are reducing our load on the environment, right?  Win-win? Great Art project anyway.

We made Alexander Calder inspired mobiles.  This summer, on a very educational trip to the Smithsonian Hirshorn museum of art, we witnessed several of the Calder mobiles, including the fish.

(photo from smithsonian site)

We decided then that we should make our own version of the fish.  We decided to change it up a bit however, and make a hummingbird and a flower, and instead of broken glass and pottery, to use recycled and heat shrunken colored/painted plastic.

For a few months, I collected all of our family's clear plastic from strawberry containers, the bottom of cookie trays (stolen from open house trash cans!) and salad containers.  We washed them, and stored them in the attic until a huge pile was accumulated.

We web searched for inspiration pictures of animals and flowers until we found some that were interesting enough for us.

We purchased 14 and 16 Gauge wire from Home Depot for the frame, and to attach the plastic.

We randomly colored alllll of the plastic with a variety of Sharpies, and a little bit of sparkle paint.  Translucent colors like Sharpie worked better, the paint tended to flake off when melted.

I then put the colored plastic containers on a cookie sheet, covered by tinfoil, in an oven at 350 degrees.  The amount of time that it will take for each piece to fully shrink will depend on the thickness of the plastic, and if you used paint of sharpie.  Pull it out of the oven as soon as it stops moving, or the plastic can start to get holes in it.  Keep a window open nearby, and put the exhaust fan on.  I did this over two days, as the fumes started to get to me.  Also, I kept the kid out of the room for this save her the brain damage.  The fumes are not strong, but better safe than sorry.

I then used the thicker wire to create a outside form for the flower and the hummingbird.  Alice and I cut up the colored shapes into more random shapes, and had Ali arrange them onto the wire forms as she thought the best represented the images.

Then, I used pieces of thinner wire to attach each piece of plastic to the wire frame.

It is not exactly as neat as an Alexander Calder work of art....but then again, he is not a 5 year old. :)

They are very colorful, and are hanging in our big picture windows now!


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