This has got to be one of my favorite projects to work on with my middle school art students. The project goes relatively quickly (2 class times) and my students love to learn about the glass artist Dale Chihuly. The sculpture in the picture above is made of 200 plastic bottles. Each bottle was donated by a student or staff member at our school. We started collecting bottles about 3 weeks before we started the project. Each student selected a bottle & painted it with acrylic. Acrylic paint works much better than tempera. Next, each student was assigned a style for cutting the bottle apart (star shape or spiral shape). Some students modified their styles slightly for a more unique design.
2/18/2016 08:10:15 am
Hello! I am student teaching this semester in a middle school art classroom. I absolutely love this project and am planning to do it with for my impact project. I have a few questions I hope you could answer. Do you have any suggestions for holding the water bottles while painting them to not get your fingers messy? Also, how did you grade the project? (not that I am so concerned with their individual grades, but need to apply some form assessment). Please e-mail me back!
5/9/2016 03:48:25 pm
5/9/2016 01:45:04 pm
Brilliant, Ms Bryans! I would love to have been in your class!
5/9/2016 03:49:04 pm
Thank-you so much Linda! I love this project.
1/3/2017 01:32:13 pm
Great project! Just a couple questions. Was it difficult to cut the water bottles? Any special tips or techniques for cutting the bottles? Did you use regular classroom scissors?
1/4/2017 08:01:36 pm
This project looks great! I was wondering what dimensions you cut your chicken wire at? Thanks!
5/24/2017 08:28:18 pm
I believe I cut the wire about 4 or 5 ft in length. It doesnt matter which width though.
5/24/2017 08:29:25 pm
The cheap water bottles (think costco or sams club) are the best. Do not use gatorade or other tough bottles. The cheap bottles were easy to cut. I helped several students get started.
5/28/2017 10:47:32 pm
How do you include Chiluly's creative process of sketches/sharing/back and forth & teamwork in all phases, etc. in creating these pieces?
8/8/2017 01:11:15 pm
This is probably a silly question, but how did you attach the bottles? Did you attach the water botlles by putting the mouth through the wholes in the chicken wire?
9/11/2017 03:15:28 pm
10/20/2017 08:43:10 pm
Thank you so much for this amazing write up of this project. I appreciate the step by step photos and all of the details. (I never thought to sand the bottles or precut them-- genius!)
10/23/2017 03:38:08 pm
Hi there! I am wondering why you had students sand the bottle? Is there a good reason behind it? I am going to do this with my students and I am trying to decide if the sand paper is important or not, I just genuinely am not sure why it was used and I am curious as to why!
10/23/2017 03:57:36 pm
I used just in case our paint struggled to stick...which it didnt. In the end, the Nasco acrylic paint was enough to stick and we really didnt need the sandpaper.
2/5/2018 01:27:51 pm
I love the Chihuly Art project. I'm not an art teacher, but probably should have been. I decided to invert the project and made an outdoor Christmas tree for my yard. My family helped me collect the bottles. I painted them shades of blue, green and purple. Then assembled the tree on a chicken wire frame that I staked in the yard with tent stakes. I looked pretty good, if I do say so. It certainly was unique. There are a few things I will do differently next year. Thanks for the inspiration.
Hello! We took some very thin wire and I had 2-3 student volunteers help wrap the wire (about 8 inches long per bottle) around the opening of the bottle and then loop it through the chicken wire and twist the wire together a few times. The lip of the bottle is enough to hold the wire in place. This was far easier than tying with string.
7/13/2019 06:42:52 am
I use clear fishing line to attach bottles to whatever form I am using. I usually put 4 to 6 bottles inside each other. Put fishing line between them knot several times then attach to form.
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I am a 7th year high school art teacher in Rochester, MN. I have taught middle school for 2 years and high school for almost 5 years. I truly enjoy working with students on a daily basis. I also enjoy teaching real-world skills such as problem solving, using technology, and the power of teamwork and collaboration. My joy is sharing my passion for art with others!
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