Painting the sticksThe art teachers used craft sticks (aka tongue depressors) for this activity.
The teachers cleverly taped the sticks to paper, so that the kids had a personal work surface that prevented the sticks from sliding, prevented mess, and made the sticks easy to dry on the racks. Each child painted their stick using craft swab(s) -- like a one-ended q-tip with a longer wooden handle.
teachers gave them some tips on color theory, pattern, and texture beforehand. (Mixing of 'muddy' colors was discouraged, but inevitable especially in the younger grades.) Words and images were not allowed as subject matter, to make the sticks more uniform and prevent potential content issues.
PlanningTwo art teachers and 3 moms gathered to talk about the logistics of assembling the sticks together into a coherent piece of artwork:
- How many sticks would we have?
- Should we try to do one big panel of sticks, or several?
- What should we attach the sticks to ... canvas? wood? foamcore? The base needed to be strong, but not so heavy that a bunch of moms couldn't handle it. But not so fragile that it could break or bend.
- Should the colors be randomly arranged, or in color families?
- Where could we hang the final artwork?
- How could we protect the sticks from damage?
- How to hang the artwork on the wall?
Math and Mockups
Here's the math in a nutshell:
- 949 sticks painted by students, plus we wanted to add a few 'label' sticks
- We decided on 4 panels of sticks, so we could divide up the assembly work and also keep the weight of each piece lower
- To get a number divisible by 4, we rounded up to 960 sticks, which mean 240 sticks per panel. (We filled in with some teacher-made sticks to get those last few.)
- 8 sticks made a 6" square, so 960 sticks created 120 squares of 8 sticks each, which could be arranged to fill a 30"x 36" panel. Adding a 1" border to the panels made the final size 32" x 38"
Panel Purchase and AssemblyThis was the most time-consuming part.
The PanelsThe wood panels looked a little rough, so we sanded the edges and then painted them a blue acrylic color, which would look nice on the cement walls. (TIP: put weights on the panels after painting them to prevent warping.)
Then, it was time to glue the sticks on with wood glue.