Mind-Blowing Glass

Mind-Blowing Glass lesson plan

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

  • 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.


  • 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.


  • 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.