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Making an Assemblage & Learning about Louise Nevelson


Learning about Louise Nevelson and making an assemblage with childrenI have seen variations of this project many times but have never tried it with my students.  I am pleased with how our assemblages turned out!  This was a great opportunity to clean out the junk in the classroom and teach about using found objects.

Learning about Louise Nevelson and making an assemblage with children

My Primaries (or first grade) learned a little about American sculptor Louise Nevelson.  There is a short clip on YouTube that explains about her artwork.

Making an Assemblage

I put a call out to families to donate shoebox lids for our projects.  Then, I gathered a whole bunch of random odds and ends from the art room and my house.

Here are some of the fantastic things you can collect for sculptures.

Plastic Toys and Buttons

Materials for an Assemblage

Marker Caps, Ends of Tape Rolls, Corks

Materials for an Assemblage

Cardboard Scraps

Materials for an Assemblage

Metal Odds and Ends

Materials for an Assemblage

Wood Scraps and Sticks

Materials for an Assemblage

After digging through the boxes of stuff and selecting the pieces they wanted, the first graders used Elmer’s glue to adhere the pieces to their boxes.  The next class period, the flipped their boxes over to see what was still loose.  We determined that most of the plastic pieces did not stick down with regular glue, so I took out the glue gun and helped them secure their pieces.

Materials for an Assemblage

Materials for an Assemblage

Choosing our pieces and gluing them down took about two or three 40-minute periods to complete.  Then, when the weather was nice, I took the pieces outside and spray painted each of the boxes with the color of their choice.  I had four different colors of Liquitex Spray Paint to color the boxes.  I think they turned out wonderful!

Learning about Louise Nevelson and making an assemblage with children Learning about Louise Nevelson and making an assemblage with children Learning about Louise Nevelson and making an assemblage with children Learning about Louise Nevelson and making an assemblage with children

Learning about Louise Nevelson and making an assemblage with children

Here are our boxes as a group.  It took me about an hour and a half total time to spray paint all of these boxes, because they needed several coats.  I had 4 cans of spray paint which colored all these boxes with paint left over in each can.  If I were attempting this with a larger group, I would have the students use acrylic paint to paint their boxes, or I would use parent volunteers to help spray paint.  I would not allow the children to spray paint their own boxes.  Next year I’m going to have the students collect their own things from home or go on a walk to find items.

Learning about Louise Nevelson and making an assemblage with children

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About Marcia Beckett

Marcia is an elementary art teacher and loves painting, drawing, sculpture, art journaling and clay. Her blog, Art is Basic, features many exciting art projects for kids.

7 Responses to Making an Assemblage & Learning about Louise Nevelson

  1. Mrs.C says:

    These came out wonderful!!! I have been thinking about something like this with my 3d grades. Thanks for sharing! 🙂

  2. OMG! I am in the middle of doing just this with my grade 4 children right now and thay are loving it! I have given them a piece of thick cardboard for the background, collected heaps of art room “junk” which is donated all the time (plastic lids, bubble wrap, jigsaw pieces, toy car wheels, plastic spools, buttons, keys, etc, etc), made a list of which glue works best with each junk category(wood/plastic/etc) and the children are trying to do at least a little bit of simple layering (lids within lids) as Louise Nevelson did, then fiddling with their arrangement until it looks right and then gluing it all down. All the grade 4’s decided after discussion that I would choose one colour for their whole grade to paint with so when displayed their individual assemblages will join together to look like one large assemblage, and thus more like Louise Nevelson’s work than small individual pieces. I have estimated that painting each piece with acrylic will probably need 2 coats to make sure they get into all those nooks and crannies. Where I am going to store them all in between sessions is going to be a challenge!!!!! Wish me luck!

    • That sounds really cool! It’s amazing how much the kids love to work with found objects. I see more collecting and assembling in my future. What glues are you using for the difference materials?

  3. craftyd says:

    I’m not a teacher but this looks like a wonderful project for the stash of wood shapes that I’m no longer using, I might even get the grandkids to make one too. Your students did an awesome job with these and they really look neat all grouped together.

  4. Diana Hobson says:

    It’s definitely a good idea for the summer vacations of kids as kids used to love this abstract art. I think it should be colored by giving them big brushes and by pasting all there broken toys on cardboard box.

  5. Pam Boone says:

    They look great! I have started collecting bits and pieces to do this next year. I’m thinking of doing some “junk” printing first and then using the “junk” for the assemblage.