Article Type Making Art Together Making Art Together Categories Painting Sculpture Theory and Resources

Awesome Assemblages

Sara Ottomano
In the Art Studio, we have an Everyday Art Project that rotates out every six weeks, inspired by current exhibitions.
Our most recent project was inspired by Christian Robinson’s artwork and his Making Space videos. We enjoy his videos and the way he introduces artmaking as approachable, experimental, and accessible. We also loved seeing his usage of found materials in his original artwork on view at The Carle including doilies, recycled paper, and hole punches. We hoped to encourage the use of everyday objects as art materials through a sculpture and painting project.  
A tray of materials, sample sculptures, and a sign that suggests different ways to change the shape of paper without scissors.

Sculpture Materials  

Each person that came into the studio was offered a cardboard box, a paint palette, and introduced to a tray of materials on the table.   

To have enough consistent supplies for museum guests, we purchased sculpture materials for this project. (If you were making a sculpture at a home or school setting, you could use materials that are on their way to recycling such as cardboard or plastic containers to give them a creative reuse.)

We chose to purchase materials that are uncoated paper because they take paint well (including watercolor) and if large enough, they can be recycled where we are in Amherst. For this project, we provided a variety of paper objects including cups, cones, doilies, watercolor paper offcuts, straws, and cupcake liners. 
Four different shaped appetizer holders made from sugarcane byproduct.
We also researched other sustainable options and purchased a few types of bagasse products which are made from the fibrous byproduct of the sugar industry that is typically burned as waste material. They are sturdy, interesting shapes, and have a smooth and rough texture due to their molding process. We found a few options from Webstaurant that worked well for use in sculptures.  
A young artist holds back a doily on their artwork while applying glue.
To help folks attach materials, we provided tacky glue inside of glue pots with brushes, one of our favorite accessible tools. (While tacky glue can take longer to dry, it is very strong and tends to hold only a few minutes into making.)  
A young artist squeezes paint into a paint palette to mix a pink color.


In addition to the sculpture materials, we provided materials for guests to paint. We had out our no-spill paint cups, paintbrushes, and 2 oz bottles of washable tempera paint in five colors: red, yellow, blue, black, and white. (The no-spill cups and 2 oz bottles are also two of our favorite accessible tools.) With those five colors and a palette, guests could mix any color they wanted for their artwork. There were many unique colors mixed over the project!  

A crocodile sculpture with torn paper teeth, cups for feet, and eyes made from cups.


Because of the complexity and number of materials, we chose not to provide scissors for this project. It was helpful to provide this intentional limitation not only because it can lead to creative problem-solving, but because there was a lot of material maintenance that needed to happen with the paint and sculpture materials in a drop-in space. (Practically speaking, the scissors can become sealed or encrusted with glue and paint over the course of the project.)  

A family works together to make their own sculptures with a sign in the middle of the table suggesting ways to change the shape of their paper without scissors.

To help guests problem-solve around this limitation, we provided a sign that had suggestions on how to change the shape of their materials without scissors. There were a lot of creative solutions including folding, expanding, bending, and tearing.  

Here are a few more examples of artwork left behind by guests, we loved seeing the variety across the six weeks!  


Sara smiling in front of Art Studio display.

Sara Ottomano

Art Educator from 2016-2023 at The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art, Sara (she/her) is enthusiastic about helping others approach art through exploration and experimentation.

Explore Further
Making Art Together
Use found materials to create moving sculptures of sea creatures.
Making Art Together
Read about how we deconstruct past projects to reuse as many materials as possible.
Making Art Together
Explore how the set-up and selection of materials can give children the opportunity to explore paint in a self-directed and manageable way.
Making Art Together
Explore how a simple cardboard box can become a back drop for stories.