Saturday, 9 August 2014

Playing with Plaster - Balloon Sculptures & Leaf Imprints

 I've been wanting to try plaster balloon sculptures ever since "The Artful Parent" did a post on it a few months ago.  Jean did say in her post it could be hard to do in larger groups yet I'm always up for a challenge.

The leaf imprints into plaster I spotted over at "That Artist Woman" ages ago.  It has been at the back of my mind ever since and seemed the perfect activity to team with the plaster balloon sculptures.

The balloon sculptures were without a doubt a massive hit - just for the process side of things.  It was a challenge getting around the room to fill all those balloons yet the children just loved it.  Especially when the plaster started to gel, then hardened and then heated up.

I followed the directions on both websites so probably not worth repeating here (they both give excellent directions).  However here are a few pointers if you want to try these activities (I had 10 or 11 children in my group).

  • I  measured the plaster into zip lock bags prior to the class so all I had to do was add the water.  I had several ready to go.  I used Jeans method of transferring the plaster to the bottles for the balloon sculptures and I poured it straight from the zip lock bags (with corner cut off) for the leaf imprints.
  • I got the children to blow up their balloons to stretch them and this seemed to entertain them whilst I made the plaster.  I started with the leaf imprints so they could be arranging their leaves whilst I then started going around the room filling the balloons with plaster.  They did need to be a bit patient with me on this as it took a while yet they seem quite happy chatting away, arranging leaves, blowing up their balloons and talking about the process.
  • As soon as the plaster starts to "gel" for the balloon sculptures ensure the children hold their balloon in the shape they want and do not move it.  I had several children who continued to try to manipulate their sculptures as the plaster was trying to harden and this resulted in broken sculptures that were a bit crumbly.  That said it didn't really matter as they loved the process so much anyway.
  • The heating up process was absolutely fascinating for the children so ensure that the balloons stay in front of them once they have gone hard so they can keep touching them and feeling the heat.
  • You can paint your sculptures with any paint yet I loved the look of the metallic paints on them.  They look like Gold nuggets! 
Balloon sculptures before removing the balloons
  • I collected some leaves and also got the children to go into the garden and choose some of their own.  The best leaves were the lettuce, cabbage and strawberry leaves.  These were harder to get out yet left much more interesting imprints
  • Remind the children to place the leaves with the back facing down (some will still forget)
  • Some of our leaves got a bit stuck into the plaster, we just used a bamboo skewer to scrape them out.  If they left a bit of green it didn't matter as we just painted over this.
  • I also got the children to paint white around the leaves as it cleaned it all up where they had dropped paint or gone over where they shouldn't. 
  • I didn't bother adding varnish before painting yet I did add varnish afterwards to give them a gloss look.  
Leaf Imprint before removing the leaves
The Results:

Here are some examples of the results.  The balloons will make lovely paper weights and the leaves will look good on a shelf display.


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