The eccentric Austrian architect and artist Hundertwasser
(1928-2000), was a visionary creator who used his art to spread his ideas of
life in harmony with nature and individual creativity.
I always liked his whimsical paintings of humanized buildings
and colorful nature scenes of flowers and trees but wasn’t aware enough of his
amazing and nonconformist architectural creations.
After viewing both his paintings and several
of his buildings, the kids and I discussed how his buildings don’t have many straight
lines, how colorful and happy they are, how each segment or floor is different, and
how he thought about gardens sprouting from the roofs so that even if you live on
the upper floors you can still enjoy park like life. We had a talk about how
when you are designing a house you have to take into account several things: what the function of the house will be, and what kind of feeling you want
the residents of the house to have. I
gave the kids a large white paper to design their house. It could be anything
they wanted – a residence, a community building, a shop, hotel, palace and
even totally imaginary house. They used either oil pastels or markers to color
their paintings. I also said that these painting can be their inspiration for
the Paper Mache building that they are going to build later on.
After finishing the paintings, the kids could start planning their paper mache buildings. I handed them lots of paper rolls, empty salt containers, soap and paint tube boxes, empty tape rolls, and cones. They first planned their building and decided on its function. Then they started placing and attaching boxes together using masking tape.
Second step was to wrap everything with newspaper and tape. Then came the gluey layer of torn pieces of brown paper bags dipped in art paste. The next class, after the brown paper had dried, came the 4th step of painting the structure with black acrylic paint.
I explained to the kids how the black base coat will give their colors the vibrant look that Hundertwasser's buildings have. Usually we paint the paper mache works with white acrylic or apply a layer of white paper and this time being different was a bit difficult for the kids to accept at first. But afterward they realized how beautiful their colors came out over the black.
Couple of weeks ago I posted about a project I did with my 7-9 year old students that was about motion and action in the human body. The kids portrayed themselves performing their favorite sport or movement in a painting. We took this idea further and transformed their two dimensional figure into a 3D one by using a paper mache layer method. Here are the results and the step by step process.
So here are the steps:
1. Gather the materials.
You will need:
plastic coated wire, 18 gauge
brown paper shopping bags
2. Cut your wire to 3 lengths.
The length of each of them depends on the desired end size, ours were about 12", 8", and 6". The 8" will form the head and the arms, the 12" will be the body and legs, and the 6" will be the thighs.
3. With the 8" one held in the center, form a loop and twist around it two or three times as shown:
Bend the ends of the wire to form hands.
4. Take the 12" wire and hold it at its center while holding the "neck" of the other wire that you had shaped into head and arms like so:
Twist each side around each "arm" to form shoulders. Make sure to twist both wires around each other, so it won't be wiggly. Decide where the waist is and twist the long ends to form body and legs.
5. Now take the third length, hold it at its center and twist it around the waist.
Twist it around each "knee" to form thighs (otherwise the body has a weird shape where the legs are sprouting in a triangle shape from the body).
6. Now you are going to start wrapping it with a dry layer of newspaper to give it some body.
Rip a few strips of newspaper, tape a piece of masking tape to one of those and tape it anywhere on the wire skeleton, start wrapping it all around the skeleton and secure each piece with tape as needed.
When you get to the looped areas (head and body) wrap around the loop and not around each wire...
The head is a ball of aluminum foil secured with tape (Sorry, don't have a picture of that)
7. Now you are ready to start the wet layers. Rip pieces of brown paper and dip each one of them in the art paste glue. For the art paste, I start with a cup with water and pour a tablespoon of powder each time. Let it sit for a few minutes and then stir it with a craft stick. The kids really like to make the glue. Some kids did not like the feeling of it and complain that it is itchy. I cook a flour glue for them. There are plenty of recipes on the web for a flour based paper mache glue. 3-4 layers of brown paper are enough to make it pretty stiff but the more the better.
The kids lose interest after 2 classes of doing only layers of wet gluey paper so we finished after about 3 layers. For the face we used a paper mache clay (A terrible material to work with, it is muddy and messy and hard to manage the right consistency but good for making face details).
After the brown paper layers dried completely, we used mod podge to adhere a layer of tan color tissue paper. I thought it will stiff it just a tiny bit more and that it will smooth the wrinkles and make it easier to paint. I think it served the purpose of itoverall...some kids left it as skin color and some painted their own skin color. We then painted the figurines with acrylic paint, added props (Like skis, helmets, tennis racquet etc.) and some kids went on to add a whole environment, like a swimming pool for the swimmer...
Last month, after years of wanting to do so, my husband and I finally flew to New Orleans. What a weekend!
When we planned the trip, we knew little of the fact that the Mardi Gras actually starts almost a month before the official dates in February. We were in for a lovely surprise when it turned out that there are a couple of parades that started that weekend. We heard from our local tour guide that these parades are smaller in size and hence they can actually go through the french quarter. Also, he recommended to be ready for a much naughtier and explicit parade than the later ones. Nevertheless, we were very happy to be in the midst of all the buzz...
The day of the parade we stopped with our rented bikes at the artisans market and purchased a few Venetian masks "for the girls".
I just had to do a lesson with Venetian masks with my 5th graders! So here it is:
We started with heavy duty foil cut into squares about 8 inches by 8 inches and folded 2-3 times.
We then shaped it over our face to form our unique face shape. We used a store bought paper mache masks as a guide to cut the eyes in the right place.
We then covered the foil with a few layers of brown paper bag pieces that we dipped in wall paste ("Jelly glue" as the kids call it).
We used containers (takeout soup containers) to keep the drying paper layers in round shape. After 2-3 layers of more brown paper, it was stiff enough for applying decoupage and embellishments (third lesson) but not too stiff, so it will be comfortable with wearing. We cut it to the desired shape.
We used Mod Podge to glue tissue paper pieces, music sheet pieces, napkins, and feathers.
When I took these pictures the glue was still wet, hence the white cloudiness...