Do you have a box of recyclables with a plan to turn them into art or something amazing? Today we’re sharing one of our favorite recycled art projects using found objects, inspired by this project at the Boston Children’s Museum. and the Random Challenge Boxes from Matt Jervis at Make it Creativity.
Recycled Art with Upcycled Materials
I recently led a fun maker station for the California Museum Association’s (CAM) annual conference that we called the Mystery Box Challenge. While we often share child-led projects here on TinkerLab, the participants in this challenge were all all museum professionals. To see how my children interpreted the same prompt, click here. This project was inspired by the Art Studio at the Boston Children’s Museum.
Mystery Box Challenge
For the Mystery Box Challenge, I prepared a bunch of boxes by filling them with all sorts of interesting found objects and trinkets: pieces of wood, surplus plastic, cupcake holders, pipe cleaners, pom-poms, etc. Each participant received their own box with a prompt to make a critter from any or all of the supplies in the box.
I found the boxes at the craft store, some of the supplies came from RAFT (Resource Area for Teaching, a non-profit that sells low cost surplus materials for education), and others were found at the craft store and a local party store. We were also lucky to receive a generous donation of low heat glue guns and glue sticks from Blick Art Materials. Thanks Blick!!
My colleague and art buddy Danielle and I set everything up, and then we waited for people to show up.
The table got busy and it was amazing to see the high level of focus from our incredible makers as they cut, glued, assembled, and invented their characters.
Once their critters were done, we invited everyone to have us take a photo of their inventive designs. Those who were on Instagram tagged their images with #tinkercritter. One of the best things about an open-ended prompt like this is to see how differently each person interprets the invitation and materials.
We were blown away by the creativity and ingenuity in the room!
Margie, Director of Education and Public Programs, Sonoma Valley Museum of Art
Mary, Graduate Student, University of Washington
Tyrena, Camp Coordinator, Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History
Jamie, Mutual of America
Elizabeth, Santa Cruz Museum of Natural History
Carl, Director of Education, Curiodyssey
Maria, Museum Studies Student, San Francisco State
Elise, Long Beach Museum of Art
Dawn, Curator, Heidrick Agricultural History Center
Conny, Graduate Student, San Francisco State
Kristine, Community Education Director, Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History
Mandi, Exhibit Envoy
Invite us to your School or Event
Thanks to everyone who played with us in Napa at the CAM Conference. It was so nice to meet each of you. If you’d like to have us come out and lead this or another maker project at your school or event, shoot me an email at rachelle at tinkerlab.com
Buy a TinkerLab® Mystery Box
Click here to buy your own mystery box, a TinkerLab.com exclusive.
Love this….This would work great in a school too. Maybe my sculpture class! Did people trade materials?
This would be so much fun in a school. I noticed that some people shared materials — you could make up whatever rules you want!
Wow. Looks like such fun. You gave me some great ideas to do with my girls.
I’m so glad to hear this!
I would love to do this with my daughter’s school! How would I.go about doing so? Thanks!!
What glue did you use
We used this low-heat glue gun: https://amzn.to/2VrNJFS (affiliate)
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