Shadow Box Art Books

Mary Peterson‘s cigar box sculpture that inspired the theme for our fall after school art series, “The Art of Books.”

We adapted the project for the classroom using cardboard boxes.



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The students created a character using air-dry clay as the head, and told the story with their box.  The body was a pencil or chopstick punched through the box.

We talked about working 3-dimensionally, and wrapping the imagery around, above, below, inside, and out.  Students were encouraged to work in layers, using papers, fabrics, clay, and mixed media to set the scene.  Many kids made small clay charms that represent the wishes, hopes, and dreams of their characters.

Every artwork tells a story, but even so, this project would be a terrific link to a creative writing assignment.

Wax painting

Another successful community push toward recycled art!  THANK YOU to everyone who contributed crayons.  We collected about 25 lbs. of old, beat-up crayons for this project.  TWO of my favorite things – UPcycling, that is, diverting items from the landfill to use in artworks, and collaboration, that is, folks coming together for the sake of art in the community.

Our theme for this visual art series was the Circus.  Inspired by old-time circus posters, we created accordion-style books from mat board scraps, newspaper, black tempera paint, duct tape, and crayons melted into liquid wax form.

Students discovered that the process of starting with a newspaper background, and sketching with a fat paintbrush with black paint led to a loose, painterly underpainting.  Then they gooped on layers of melted wax to create a deeply textured surface, which could be carved into and manipulated in an almost sculptural way.  The wax cooled quickly so we had to work fast.

Details may have been a bit elusive with this medium, but that places the burden of emphasis on your composition and form, or in layman’s terms, it forces you to focus on the big picture instead of getting lost in the small details.  Art presents many profound lessons for life.