Tag Archives: recycle

Art – Bottle Birds


For this project with my high schoolers, we recycled wine bottles.  In order to get enough bottles, I just had to ask my co-op, and viola, they appeared.  Don’t judge!


They started out by filling the bottle with pea gravel to weigh down the bottoms.  Then, they stuck a long, heavy gauge wire into the neck, and all the way down to the gravel.  After that, they used newspaper and masking tape to make the neck, head, and beaks of the birds.  I told them they could design this bird any way they wished, and we had some very ingenious outcomes!  They were also allowed cardboard to make the wings or any other body parts they liked.

Schooled in Love:  Bottle Birds


Once they had the body, neck, head, beak, and wings formed, the students paper mached the entire sculpture to create the bird.

After layering it with paper mache, they let it dry, and then primed it.  I hate buying primer, so I make it by using a one-to-one ratio of white acrylic paint to white school glue.  Once the primer dried, it was time to paint the birds.  They turned out beautifully!  I am so proud of my high school girls!

Level 1 Art – Junkbots


Schooled in Love:  JunkbotsWhat a great idea to help all the hoarding homeschoolers!  Who knew they had all this junk?!

I put all the usable stuff in (some-what) sorted buckets on a table.  This created a “Junk Store.”  On their initial visit to the store, they could collect up to 10 items.  This was to make sure everyone had a fair opportunity to get the stuff they wanted.  After everyone went once, the students were allowed to go up as many times as they liked.

For our Junkbots, I gave the kids rules:

1.  Each Junkbot had to have a head and a body.

2.  It had to have eyes or some sort of visual aid.

3.  The students were allowed to have up to 4 items kept in their “natural” state.  (Stuff that wasn’t going to be spray painted silver).

4.  Each Junkbot had to have a name.


We used E6000 to glue the pieces, but that didn’t go as well as planned.  If some students were STILL having trouble, after trying to do it themselves, I would help them out with Gorilla Crazy Glue.

This was our Junkbot Store.  Notice the large selection of... junk.

This was our Junkbot Store. Notice the large selection of… junk.

The Junkbots are built:

Time to spray paint all the Junkbots silver.  I did this myself to save time and resources, but the kids LOVED them once they were done.  I guess they seemed more “legit.”

Line 'em up, and spray 'em down!

Line ’em up, and spray ’em down!


Once they were dry, the kids put up to 4 things on the robot that were left in their “natural” state.

Not too shabby for “junk!”


Level 1 Art – Water Bottle Fishes


Yes, “fishes” is correct:  they’re different species.  😉

To start, you’ll need the following for each student:  1 disposable water bottle, 1 12-inch dowel rod, 1 4 x 4 wooden block.

You will also need:  scissors (or an exacto knife), masking tape, scrap cardboard, a drill (with a bit the size of your dowel rod), newspaper, flour, water, a hand-mixer, mixing bowl, cheap toilet paper, joint compound, vegetable oil, Elmer’s Glue-All (NOT school glue), modge podge, sponge brushes, tissue paper, large google-eyes, Aileen’s Tacky Glue, and sequins.

First things, first.  Remove the outer wrapping, lid, and ring from the water bottle.  Drill a hole in your wooden block and push one end of the dowel rod into it.  If it’s loose, add a little glue-all to it to help it stay put.  Using your scissors (or exacto knife), cut a SMALL slit on the side of the water bottle.  Push the other end of the dowel rod all the way into the bottle.  If it’s loose, use a piece of masking tape to secure it.

Cut out fish parts from the cardboard, like the fins and tail.  Tape those to the water bottle.  Rip SMALL pieces (about 2-3 inches) of newspaper, and set them aside.


Here you can see the skeletal structure.

In a mixing bowl, put about a cup of flour, and add enough water to where it becomes the consistency of pancake batter.  Dip a piece of newspaper into the batter and pull it through your index and middle fingers to wipe it off.  Press it to the water bottle, and smooth out any wrinkles.  Once the water bottle and cardboard pieces are completely covered (make sure to look under it!), let it dry.  Add another layer of paper mache.


This is the first layer of newspaper on the fish. See the dowel rod? When we first started the project, I used bamboo skewers, not even thinking about the weight of the sculpture. Duh! Anyway, after getting real dowel rods, having them cut down to thirds, and re-drilling the hold in the wooden block, all was well in the world of Mrs. Darby’s art class.

To create the paper mache clay, remove the toilet paper from the roll, and soak it in a bowl of warm water.  Squeeze the water out of it, and pull it apart in very small chunks into a mixing bowl.  Add 3/4 cup of Elmer’s Glue-All, 1 cup of joint compound, 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil, and a 1/2 cup of flour.  Mix on low for about 20 seconds, then mix on high for about 30 seconds.


Here is the big bucket o’ paper mache clay, ready to go!

Once the fish is dry, smear on the paper mache clay in a VERY THIN layer, smoothing it out as you go.  I made sure there were tubs of warm water at each table for when the kids were done.  I didn’t want to pour that down the sink.  Let the fish dry.


Abby puts on a thin layer of paper mache clay. This helps to fill any gaps missed and to smooth out any weird spots. Notice the new, thicker, stronger dowel rod?

You’re finally ready for the colorful part!  Cut small pieces of tissue paper and adhere with modge podge (I made ours by thinning white school glue with water).  Let dry.

When you're ready to add color, saturate the area with modge podge with a sponge brush.  Then add a piece of tissue paper and cover the area with modge podge to seal it.

When you’re ready to add color, saturate the area with modge podge with a sponge brush. Then add a piece of tissue paper and cover the area with modge podge to seal it.

This one’s ready for the next step:  Embellishment!

All the tissue paper is on!  Now to add the details...

All the tissue paper is on! Now to add the details…

Add the google-eyes and layer the sequins like scales in some areas.  Done!  🙂

Schooled in Love:  Water Bottle Fish

This project took us about 6 class periods to finish.