These were the major artworks my students created during their week long look at the art of glass blower Dale Chihuly. I wanted a sculptural project that would mimic glass, and had seen plastic bottle chandeliers on various websites, but I needed an artwork that each student could take home.
After looking at Chihuly's art for inspiration I decided to try using plastic wrap and clear packing tape to create 'glass' sculptures similar to his niijima floats.
Our Inspiration: Chihuly based his colourful orbs on the floats used by Japanese fishermen.
The students started by blowing up a balloon to the desired size and then wiping it down with water before completely covering it in a layer of plastic wrap. We then used clear packing tape, wrapping the whole thing in 3 layers. You will use A LOT of tape, but you need the sculpture to be strong enough to stand on its own without collapsing. My younger students (6-8) needed help with this step, so in the future I would only do this project with older kids. After applying the tape we used scissors to poke through the layers and pop the balloon. A magical moment for the kids with lots of oohhs and ahhhs when they see that the clear tape has retained the form of the balloon. We then took the scissors to cut the sculpture almost completely in half, leaving a hinge so that it opened like a book. Finally we removed the popped balloon and any loose pieces of plastic wrap before painting designs onto the interior, keeping the glass-like appearance on the outside. The students used acrylic paints to create colourful macchia spot and striped designs since tempera will flake off of the plastic. When the paint had dried we attached the two halves again with more packing tape to create the finished niijima floats.
A couple of pics showing sunlight streaming through the sculptures
A few close ups of the painted designs:
Alternatively, instead of making niijima floats you could have students work in pairs and then cut the sculptures in half using a wavy line to create macchia, like the ones below.