We began by cutting the 8½ x 11"
( 21 x 28 cm) sheets of clear Grafix
shrink film in fourths, giving each
student a reasonable-sized piece to
work with. We then reviewed the
techniques we used on the Op Art
lesson, concentrating on the repeti-
tion of the element of line. Students
were also encouraged to use color
creatively to add more visual interest to their piece.
They watched in awe as They were then
the thin, flat plastic began given colored per-
manent markers to
to shrivel and twist and draw with on the
shrink into gorgeous little shrink film.
works of art. When the toaster
oven was ready,
students began lin-
ing up with their decorated sheets.
They watched in awe as the thin,
flat plastic began to shrivel and
twist and shrink into gorgeous
little works of art. I encouraged
my students to instruct me when
to remove the piece, letting them
decide when the forms were at their
most interesting stage. After the
plastic cooled, I let students hot
glue small magnets to the back of
each piece. They were so proud of
their works and couldn’t wait to
What pleased me most about this
project was the excitement level of
my students. What started out as a
small activity to keep them engaged
As an art teacher I am
always amazed at how
some of the best lessons seem to evolve out
of another lesson, or how they are
sometimes born out of happy little
accidents. Such is the case with
this lesson based on Dale Chihuly’s
fabulous glass artworks.
The lesson began with a line
composition based on the Op Art
works of Bridget Riley in which
students repeat the element of line
with gel pens on construction paper.
As always, some students finished
their work more quickly than others, so I scrambled to come up with
an activity that would engage the
students who had completed their
Then I remembered the shrink
art sheets I had
year before and
decided to let
Op Art line com-
positions with permanent markers,
then shrink them into decorative
magnets. As I began working on
my examples and melting them in
the toaster oven, I was intrigued by
the interesting forms they took as
the shrink film began to melt. They
reminded me of small art glass
pieces with their twisted shapes and
lines, and I immediately thought of
glass artist Dale Chihuly.
that decorate this amazing hotel.
The complexity of the forms, the
array of colors, and the play of light
within these works was awe-inspiring, and now I had the opportunity
to introduce this prolific artist to
my sixth grade students.
turned into a week-long project and
a lot of whining when I told them it
was time to move on to something
else. How often does that happen? With the bonus of adding yet
another artist to our repertoire, this
is sure to be a lesson that will be
repeated year after year!
Christine Grafe is an art teacher at
Cypress Grove Intermediate School in
College Station, Texas. email@example.com
Students integrate visual, spatial,
and temporal concepts with content
to communicate intended meaning
in their artworks.
I became a fan of Chihuly’s work
while visiting the Atlantis Resort
on Paradise Island in the Bahamas.
There I had the pleasure of viewing several of his massive works