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Wood collage plays with shadows

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Webelos Cub Scouts that are working on the art pin are required to make something from wood or plastic. This project was modified from a similar work of art I saw at UWF. It was a starburst that was about four or five feet square. When you first look at the collage, you see the star burst, but on closer inspection, you see Army men, ball point pens, bubble gum machine toys, party favors, paper clips, bread bag clips, pony beads and all sorts of small plastic items. All of this was spray painted silver, a color that reflects light and creates shadows among the items.

When my husband and I were leading Webelos, we made a similar project from small plastic items. Each scout was given a piece of Masonite (thin particle board). Floor tile adhesive (used to lay a linoleum floor) was spread over the entire surface using a grooved trowel made for that purpose. Then the boys arranged the plastic items in the glue. It took about an hour for the glue to dry. Then the artwork was spray painted silver or gold.

The work pictured is similar, but made of wood. It works better than the plastic project because white glue doesn’t smell. White glue can be applied to each item instead of the whole background, which eliminates the race against time to get the pieces on before the glue dries. The wood absorbs the water in the glue, allowing it to dry quickly.

The background is a piece of one-inch lumber, sanded smooth. Wood putty was applied to the grain ends of the board to make them smooth. Any type of thin wood will do for the background.

Mark the center of the back, and nail a picture hanger to the back of the work first. Once the other items have been glued to the front, it will not be possible to do this. If this is a group or class project, write the student’s name on the back at this time as well.

Turn the board over, and start gluing small wood shapes to the front with white glue. The items include wood shapes left over from country crafts, Popsicle sticks, clothes pins, wooden beads, small wood items used in cabinet making, wide craft sticks or tongue depressors that were cut into diamonds and squares, and scraps left over from other woodworking projects that were sliced thin with a band saw.

I would like the arrangement better if it had saw dust glued in between the items to give it more of a one-piece look, and more variety between big and small items.

When the glue is dry, paint the arrangement gold or silver. This project was painted with acrylic paint and a paintbrush that was stiff enough to go into the little cracks and spaces. Acrylic paint takes more time than spray paint, but it doesn’t smell and has fewer drips.

In addition to teaching radial symmetry, this project practices fine motor skills in gluing, placing small objects and using a paint brush.

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