Shannon from Hatch is back with a wonderful, open-ended art invitation for kids: stacked cardboard sculptures! Also known as threaded sculptures. Aren’t these FABULOUS? What I love most about Shannon’s idea is that it can even be done with toddlers. It’s very process-art oriented and works those small motor and hand-eye skills.
Here is Shannon in her own words…
I am always on the hunt for three dimensional invitations-to-create that are engaging and exciting for all ages. If it also re-purposes a ton of cardboard, is an excellent fine motor workout, and looks super cool when finished, even better! Enter the threaded and stacked cardboard sculptures.
I knew I wanted to introduce a sculptural piece for children as young as 18 months. At first, I considered doing a notched cardboard sculpture. This has proven to be really tricky for younger artists in my experience. If you have little ones at home, you know that threading beads or stacking objects (like block building) are universal activities that that build hand-eye coordination, fine motor skills, and more. A light bulb went off! What if we could just thread and stack simple cardboard shapes? No glue, no tape, no notches!
I found tons of inspiration in some stacked clay sculpture work from Arielle Goddard at Art Camp LA, and from Alie Edwards and her students at Creation Space. So pop over to their feeds if you are looking for more gorgeous kid art. And, of course, you’re reading this on Art Bar… so if you’re looking for more recycled art, you need to grab a copy of Cardboard Creations!
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Supply list for Stacked Sculptures:
~ Wood skewers (we used 10″ but chopsticks will also work in a pinch)
~ Clay or dough of some kind (we used air dry)
~ Cardboard cut into shapes
~ Cardboard TP or paper towel tubes cut into small pieces and rings
~ Egg cartons cut up
~ Optional: wood beads or bolts from the hardware store
Setting up the Stacked Sculptures invitation:
1. Set out a tray of the cardboard shapes. Cardboard is tough to hole punch, so I did that ahead of time, punching several holes for various threading options.
2. Stick each skewer pointy end down into a little ball of your clay and flatten the bottom against the table so it stands up, set aside.
3. Invite each artist to add color to both sides of the cardboard shapes either before or after stacking. With our older groups (ages 2.5+), we added color first with my favorite bingo dotters and neon tempera cakes. With the younger kids, it made better sense to build the sculptures first and then paint the whole thing with regular tempera paint. However you structure painting, kids can thread the cardboard shapes any way they like.
I love the openness of the little cardboard tube pieces, and the wood beads and bolts give a little space between each stacked shape. Some children delighted in just stacking the wood beads and bolts and that was totally fine too.
This was such an enjoyable process for our young artists, some even requested an additional skewer to thread more pieces of cardboard!
Here are a few ways you could extend this invitation or adapt for what you already have lying around:
- With a large piece of styrofoam as the base, you could poke lots of skewers in and make a collaborative sculpture.
- Try stacking hole punched plastic lids, metal rings and other interesting pieces, or even stiff bits of fabric.
- For very young children, you could skip the paint and just focus on the threading (use a larger hole punch to make this activity easier, or just use the tubes)
Allow the clay to harden and dry, and display your child’s super special sculpture in a prominent place at home! Invite kids to revisit and recreate their sculpture as many times as they’d like. This is a perfect opportunity to practice arranging and iterating (trying an idea over and over again to make changes).
A little about Shannon:
Shannon Merenstein is the owner, creative director, and lead educator at Hatch. She is endlessly inspired by the creativity, joy, and imagination of children. Shannon returned to the wonderful city of Pittsburgh after graduation from Pratt Institute, where she studied painting and art education. For the past 8 years, Shannon has been an art educator and instructional coach at the Environmental Charter School in Pittsburgh, all the while dreaming up and testing out new and creative art projects for her children. When she became a new mom last March, the inspiration for Hatch started to emerge. Looking for creativity-building experiences for her son, Graham, Shannon saw a need for a studio like Hatch in the city. When they stumbled upon a former gallery in Point Breeze, Shannon and her husband, Cole, envisioned a beautiful space to inspire and activate creative thinking! Part art-making studio, part community-gathering space, Hatch aspires to be a special place in Pittsburgh for people of all ages to explore, create, and imagine.
More stacked sculptures from Handmakery!
Our mutual friend, Ami, from Handmakery art studio in Colorado did this project with her students last week and I wanted to share these photos with you as more inspiration!
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