Make your own hanging outdoor sculpture with recycled and found materials
Camp-in-Place #AtHomeArt projects from Camp Contemporary instructors and Youth and Family staff. Sponsored by SONIC Drive-In.
Oklahoma is where the wind comes sweeping down the plain — so let's use it to make some art! Today's #AtHomeArt project from Camp Contemporary instructor Autumn N. Brown offers step-by-step instruction on making your own vibrant wind sculpture.
This week's Camp-in-Place project combines recycled and found materials to create a sculpture that will sway in the wind and brighten up any garden, yard or patio. Rummage through junk drawers, craft bins and closets for items you can turn into art. The size, color and sound combinations are endless. Let's get started!
- Sticks (around 5-10 inches long)
- Acrylic paint
- Tape (duct, electrical or washi)
- Clean plastic container (sports drink bottle or clear canister)
- Multicolored Sharpies
- String (yarn, fishing line, thin ribbon or twine)
- Utility knife or box cutter
- Accessories! For example: beads, fake flowers, buttons, flat washers, jar lids, jingle bells, corks, etc. Remember to look around your house or backyard for materials.
Painting your sticks
- Use newspaper, a plastic tablecloth or a trash bag to protect your work surface.
- Gather sticks, acrylic paint, brushes, pallet (we use paper plates) and water cup.
- Choose three to four colors to start with and put them on your pallet.
- Paint your stick! The brighter the better. You’ll be adding details later so “large” areas of color work best.
- Set aside to let dry once completed.
- Once dry, embellish your stick with tape. You can even add Sharpie to taped areas.
Embellishing the base
- Make sure your plastic container is clean and dry.
- With an adult’s help, cut container to half or two-thirds its size. We suggest adults make the starter hole with a utility knife. Young artists can cut around the container.
- Adults can help add holes to attach the suspended elements. Poke as many holes around the bottom of the container as you will have suspended elements. You can use a utility knife to start the hole and then round out the holes with a large nail.
- To hang the sculpture, add three holes on top of the container using the same technique as above. These holes should be in a triangle shape.
- Using a permanent marker, cover the container with color, shapes, patterns and lots of designs. Have fun and experiment!
- Set the base aside to complete the remaining parts.
- You can use ribbon, yarn, fishing line, twine, heavy thread (be aware this might not hold up as well) or thin craft wire. We used yarn to connect sticks to the container and fishing line to add embellishments.
- Cut a piece of yarn 24 inches or longer.
- Match up on end of yarn with stick. Lay yarn directly on stick, about a quarter of an inch down the object, then tape down with just a bit of tape. Then start wrapping yarn back up over and around the yarn and stick until you reach the top of the stick. Once at the top, loop it wide around the stick, leaving space between the yarn and stick. Then thread the yarn through the loop twice and pull tight. You will want to secure the knot with a dab of glue.
- Set aside until ready to connect to main container.
Adding string to bottom of stick / adding embellishments
- Repeat directions above. The string will trail down at the bottom of the stick. For this, consider what will be strung onto the string. (We are using beads with smaller holes, so we decided to use fishing line.) These can be as long as you want them to be. Just remember that the longer they are, the harder they are to untangle, so you will want to keep them away from each other as you add the embellishments.
- Working on one vertical element at a time, add all the beads, plastic flower bits, buttons, corks and metal washers-- all the found things. Then tie off the end of the string.
- Repeat for each vertical strand.
Putting it all together
- First, add the string to the top of the decorated container, which will be used to hang the sculpture. It will be harder to add it if you wait until after the embellished strands are attached.
- Take the three strings and knot them together, then string them up from underneath the container to the top of the container. Pull strings up and taut and gather strings together. Leave enough length on each string to tie a loop around where you will put the hanging sculpture.
- Attach each individual decorated strand to the decorated container by the holes made earlier.
- Once finished, take your wind sculpture out to your garden or yard and display it for all to see!
Autumn N. Brown is a teaching artist who has taught around the Oklahoma City metro area for more than eight years, including Camp Contemporary, after-school programs and homeschool co-ops. She loves introducing children to contemporary art ideas while sneaking in the fundamentals. Brown has a background in arts nonprofits, galleries, advertising and television production. When not teaching, she balances her time between working on her own art and homeschooling her children.
Return to New Light.