4th graders are beginning their abstract sculpture unit. I’ve been itching to do a Dale Chihuly chandelier (if you’re an art teacher, I would hope you too – no matter the grade – want to try one) but I didn’t want to just jump into it so after putting together the hard facts about our friend, Chihuly, we started with a simple look at Dale Chihuly’s Macchia work.
Students loved learning about glass blowing while we talked about Dale Chihuly. I showed them this video I found on youtube. It doesn’t tell you everything you need to know but it’s short, quick, educations, and has great visuals of the glory hole and blow pipe. We study Dale’s Macchia’s, glass bowl-like structures covered in spotting (Macchia means “spotted” in Italian) and read quotes about how he referred to his work as “The Uglies”. This made a great discussion about how if our work doesn’t turn out perfect, it’s okay because in a way, it could still fit the idea of Macchias.
Just like my 1st graders had to with the Japanese Folding Fans, my 4th graders began by planning out their Macchia. We will be using starch spray and coffee filters (a well know trick) that have been decorated with water-based markers. The water-based is so that the ink bleeds well when the starch spreads it. Any marker will work but water-based always spreads faster. They received a paper with a circle (shape of the coffee filter) and came up with ideas. They can use these ideas next week when we make the work or they can take these ideas and build from them. It eliminates not all but at least one round of possible mistakes that always result in the students wanting to start over. The only requirement in their design is that it had some kind of spotting (not necessarily perfect dots, either) just like Macchia.
Follow us to day two, here.