Summer Art Series: Degas

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Hi friends!

I mentioned last week that this summer I hope to have a bi-weekly post on some sort of art or craft project for kids.  Lately my kids have been really fascinated by the art masters and have been wanting to check out books and videos from the library.  They were fascinated by Degas, partially because they've seen some of his paintings, but also because my kids love to dance.

When I think about Edgar Degas I think mostly about his paintings.  However we read the picture book, "Degas and the Little Dancer"  my kids were much more excited about making a sculpture than painting a picture. (The picture book is good, btw!)

We made the these ballerinas over the course of two afternoons, and I have to say this project was a total hit!  My kids loved sculpting the bodies and playing with the clay.  They wanted to make more out of clay after we finished the ballerinas.

The ballerinas have a pipe cleaner and foil center, and the clay is just wrapped around the formed body.

Ready for the tutorial?  Let's go!

Here's what you'll need for each ballerina:
  • a 20 mm wood bead
  • 2 pipecleaners
  • foil
  •  modeling clay.  I used polyform model air, and it worked well.  It's very light and pliable.
  • permanent marker to embellish the face
  • small scraps of tulle for the skirt, if desired
  • paperclip 
  • hot glue gun to attach the skirt
 Let's get started!

Start by making the body out of two pipe cleaners and the wooden bead.  I made a loop at the top of the head so that I could loop a paperclip through.  This is great if you want to make your ballerina into an ornament.

Wrap foil around the pipe cleaners to make the body.  We found that our clay didn't stick well to the pipe cleaners themselves, so make sure you cover it all in foil.

Once your ballerina is about made, let it dry at least 24 hours.  Mine was still a little wet the next morning. We took strips of tulle and ran a simple gathering stitch to puff them out.  Then I just used a hot glue gun to attach the skirts to the ballerinas.

We used a permanent marker to draw in the eyes.
And that was it!  Of course you can always add some more details with markers or even paint them!  So fun, right?

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