Magazine article Arts & Activities

Chihuly-Inspired Balloon Sculptures

Magazine article Arts & Activities

Chihuly-Inspired Balloon Sculptures

Article excerpt


When I heard the glass artist Dale Chihuly was going be exhibiting his work at the Missouri Botanical Garden, I knew I had to take my fourth-grade students to view his extraordinary sculptures!

Just as I predicted, students were in awe of his organic three-dimensional sculptures. Before taking a field trip to the Missouri Botanical Garden, my students watched an exciting video called Chihuly Over Venice, which allowed them to see him in action working as a team with fellow glassblowers.

Students watched how quickly the glass had to be blown and manipulated before it hardened to the shape desired by the artist. Each blown piece was carefully created and then put together to create magnificent three-dimensional chandeliers.

After our field trip, students were divided into groups of five to seven students to start the process of creating their own Chihuly-inspired chandelier sculptures.

Of course, we didn't have the resources to blow glass in our elementary classroom, so we had to think of a material that would give us the look of glass, but would be safe, familiar and easy for elementary students use. So, what would that material be? Well, the first thing that came to mind was balloons.

The members of the student groups quickly discussed which particular sculpting jobs they would be good at--blowing balloons, tying balloons closed or arranging balloons on the strings.

Each group was given an assortment of balloon sizes and shapes. They were to first blow up the balloons and attach them to vertical strings, which hung from the ceiling of the art room. Students had to problem-solve their way through the creation. How would they create balance using color and size? How would they attach the balloons so they would stay on the string? How long or wide did they want their sculpture to be? These were just a few questions they had to think about when creating their Chihuly-inspired sculpture. …

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