April 2020 marks the 50th anniversary of Earth Day. For our weekend family art activity, we’re inspired by upcycling and art that is green. Not the color, of course!

Janet Nolan made fantastic sculptural installations using materials that people would normally throw away, such as soda cans, bottle caps and broken umbrellas. Many important museums exhibit her work and even have her art in their collection, including JCSM. She also presented in a famous store in New York City, Bloomingdales.

When you look at her artwork here, how do you feel? Do you giggle? How do ordinary things seem now? Are you thirsty!?

Give objects in your home a second look. What can be transformed into art? Check out a step-by-step guide to recreating your interpretation of Nolan’s piece “Can Can.”

What You’ll Need

Help from a grownup

Aluminum foil

Scissors

Pencil

Small cylinder (empty toilet paper or paper towel rolls work great!)

Ruler (optional)

Art project materials, including scissors, pencil and foil.

Instructions

Tear a piece of foil that is about one foot long.

Using a pencil, mark lines on your foil.

Divide the foil into strips that are about two inches wide. A ruler is helpful, but not necessary.

Experiment with different widths and estimates.

Mark off sections of aluminum foil with a pencil.

Carefully use scissors to cut along your lines.

Ask a grownup for help because foil is sharp around the edges.

Aluminum foil cut into thin strips.

Combine three to four sheets of foil strips, stacking them on top of one another and folding the edges.

This gives your coil a better shape.

Aluminum foil wrapped around a ruler to give it a rectangular shape.

Be very careful as to not run your fingers along the sharp edges of the foil.

A ruler is very helpful for this step.

Detail of ends of aluminum foil rectangle.

If you have permanent or metallic markers, decorate your foil strips. What kind of patterns can you make with different shapes?

Draw a variety of abstract shapes on aluminum foil to create a pattern.

Roll your strips around your cylinder, and voila! You have your very own foil coils and green art project.

Decorated aluminum foil wrapped around an empty paper towel roll.

Once you are done, share your work with others to show them how you transformed recycled materials into art. Make a bunch of them! Maybe even ask a grownup to temporarily hang them to the wall with painter’s tape. Post to social media and tag us. We’d love to share your creation online @JCSMAuburn for a #MuseumFromHome.

A coil of aluminum foil decorated as an art project for children.

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