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Mind-Blowing Glass

Color and light explode with brilliance in hand-blown glass! Design an elegant sculpture reminiscent of Dale Chihuly’s spectacular, luminous creations.

  • Grade 6
    Grades 7 and 8
  • Multiple Lesson Periods
  • Directions

    1. The art of glassblowing involves heating glass to a very high temperature, where it begins to melt. The glass blower then blows air through a long metal tube while turning the hot and heavy molten glass. This requires a great deal of skill, strength, and patience. Dale Chihuly, a well-known glass sculptor, explored the team approach to glass blowing. Invite students to research Chihuly, his life and artistic career. Provide text resources as well as teacher-approved web sites for students to view.
    2. Chihuly’s art is usually based upon forms found in nature, particularly flower forms and sea forms. Organize students into small groups. Each group will select a focus for their glassblowing projects based on Chihuly's work.
    3. To create a sculpture which includes bright colors and organic form, ask students to look closely at living natural forms such as flowers, seaweed, and sea creatures. The Internet will have a large amount of these photographs to view. Then have students use white Crayola® Model Magic® to make several shapes that these forms inspire. Air-dry overnight.
    4. Students cover their work areas with recycled newspaper. Tear brightly colored tissue paper into small pieces. Mix equal parts of glue and water in a small bowl to make a glaze.
    5. With a paint brush, students moisten a small part of the sculpture’s surface with the glaze. Use the paintbrush to pick up a piece of tissue paper, and apply it to the moist surface. Coat the tissue paper with more glaze. Overlap tissue paper slightly. Air-dry overnight.
    6. Students compose a summary paragraph which includes insight into their learning about Chihuly, his life challenges and professional work. Display student artwork and writing in a school hallway for display case for peers to view.
  • Standards

    LA: Integrate information from several texts on the same topic in order to write or speak about the subject knowledgeably.

    LA: Write informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas, concepts, and information through the selection, organization, and analysis of relevant content.

    LA: Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions with diverse partners on grade level topics and texts, building on others' ideas and expressing their own clearly.

    LA: Report on a topic or text, tell a story, or recount an experience with appropriate facts and relevant, descriptive details, speaking clearly at an understandable pace.

    SS: Describe ways in which language, stories, folktales, music, and artistic creations serve as expressions of culture and influence behavior of people living in a particular culture.

    SS: Use appropriate resources, data sources, and geographic tools to generate, manipulate, and interpret information.

    SS: Explore factors that contribute to one's personal identity such as interests, capabilities, and perceptions.

    VA: Intentionally take advantage of the qualities and characteristics of art media, techniques, and processes to enhance communication of experiences and ideas.

    VA: Select and use the qualities of structures and functions of art to improve communication of ideas.

    VA: Describe and place a variety of art objects in historical and cultural contexts.

  • Adaptations

    Possible classroom resource includes: The See-Through Zoo by Suzanne Haldane

    Chihuly's artwork is based upon forms found in nature and he names his series. As a class, students determine a topic, or focus, for their sculptures. Individually or in teams of two, students create a sculpture based on Dale Chihuly's techniques. Display these artwork pieces in a public place in the school, along with a summary of Chihuly's professional career.

    Students explore the art of glass blowing. Watch glass blowers in action if possible to gain a fuller understanding of the entire process.


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