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Chihuly Sculpture

Created for Saturday Art with University of Cincinnati (Ages 9-10)

Lesson Summary:
In this project students will work collaboratively to create an abstract sculpture inspired by the glass work of Dale Chihuly. They will work together to decide on the color palette and to create the pieces. They will construct their sculpture with painted and cut plastic bottles.

Specific Objectives:
Students will:

  • Discuss what a color palette is and decide on one for their sculpture.

  • Construct an abstract sculpture together.

  • Work together to find a place to hang their sculpture withing the designated display area.

Materials List: Plastic bottles (clean and at least 3 per student in class), Acrylic paint, Scissors, Hot glue gun, String/Yarn, Water, 4 Spare containers

Instructional Aides: Images of Chihuly sculptures and an example of the final piece.

Vocabulary: Recycle, Abstract, Color palette


Pre-class Preparation:

  • Check that bottles are clean and have them set aside and accessible to students.

  • Have acrylic paint out but not divided, this will have to be finished prepping while art making is happening.


  • Have students come in and sit on ground as a group.

  • Show Chihuly glass sculptures and the example of what they will be creating.

  • Talk about how colors have meanings.

  • Discuss what meanings they associate with certain colors. Do combinations of colors change what the colors mean?

  • Explain the basics of what a color palette is.

  • Have 4 empty containers laid out and accessible for the students.

Art Activity:

  • Guide the students while they decide as a group what color palette they would like to use.

  • They should all agree as this project is a whole group effort.

  • There should be between 2-4 colors chosen for the palette.

  • Have each student go up and get three bottle and bring them back to their seats.

  • While students get their bottles separate the colors of paint that are present in their colors palette.

  • Have students mix 1/3 water and 2/3 paint of their chose color in each bottle.

  • They should screw the cap in tight and shake the bottle until paint covers the entire inside of the bottle.

  • Once paint is coating entire inside they should dump the extra paint in the container of the associated color.

  • Once there is paint that has been dumped students may get paint from the container that has the color they want

  • Once the bottle has been emptied of any extra paint the student should leave the cap off the bottle and let it dry and move on to the next bottle.

  • When all the bottles are coated on he inside let them dry for about 10 minutes. While the bottles dry have students clean up any paint that got on the table then  take students to possible display areas for them to begin considering where to hang their final piece.

  • After the paint has dried, the students should use scissors to cut the bottom off the bottle and cut them in a spiral towards the top.

  • As the students finish cutting  the bottles help them to assemble the final sculpture.

  • Tie yarn or string through the mouth of the bottle and tie bottles together, use hot glue where necessary to hold the shape of the sculpture.

Clean up:

  • Try to start clean up with about 10 minutes left.

  • Check for any paint or bottle pieces.

  • Wipe up any paint left

  • Throw away any pieces of bottles that haven’t already made it to the trash.

  • Have students put scissors back where they got them.

  • Make sure all paint is sealed

  • Dump any excess paint in containers and clean containers once students have left.


  • Students should reflect on their chosen spot, does it suit the sculpture they created? Could there have been a better spot?

  • Students should discuss what works about their color palette. Would a different combination of colors have looked better? Why?


The Crayon Lab. (02/06/2023). Recycled Chihuly. 5th Grade Class in Atlanta Georgia.

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