Article Type Making Art Together Making Art Together Categories Sculpture Theory and Resources

Materials in Motion

Diana MacKenzie

Boats, airplanes, wagons and cars are on the move in the colorful illustrations by Leonard Weisgard, and an exhibit of his art work is currently on view in The Carle’s East Gallery in the show, Magician of the Modern: the Art of Leonard Weisgard. Using an assortment of found materials from the restaurant supply store and our own collection, guests recently made sculptures inspired by things that go.

Guests started with 8 -1/4” x 4 -3/4” colorful foam supermarket trays for their sculpture base. The foam was perfect for this project because it’s light weight (it could float OR fly!), a great size for a vehicle, easy to cut or poke holes into, and the price was very affordable when ordered in bulk through Webstaurant. We used almost 2,000 foam trays for this 6-week activity!

The main art supplies for this project were either from the restaurant supply store or recycled materials made from paper, plastic, metal or wood: hot drink cups, cone cups, muffin liners, condiment cups, corrugated cardboard, towel tubes and empty tape rolls, plastic bottle caps (we pre-drilled holes into the center of thick plastic caps), bubble wrap, colorful drinking straws, paper straws, coffee stirrers, and container lids of various sizes.

For connecting materials we offered colorful masking tape or wire. I intentionally did not provide glue for this project because it would have actually been more frustrating to use during construction; many of the plastic materials are non-porous and do not glue together easily. It was interesting to watch guests brainstorm ways to connect their vehicle pieces together with the materials provided, and they came up with amazing solutions!

Also on each tray was a laminated card to inspire different ways to move. The card’s prompt: How will your sculpture MOVEwas followed by a list of action words: twist, drift, pivot, fling, arc, weave, jump, touch, whip, orbit, swing, run, roll, march, split, take off, skip, fly, whirl, zigzag, grow, maneuver, revolve, carry, glide, float, flow, circle, bend, step, turn, loop, capsize, sway, propel, push, and leap.

We had a wide range of scooters, motorcycles, trucks, skateboards, wheel barrows, space ships…and boats!

Here are a few of our regular guests testing out their boats in the sink.

A few more boats that stayed on dry land.

A big thanks to Studio Assistant, Rebekah Buettner, and Studio intern, Shannon Dover, for helping me organize all the materials for this project!


Diana, smiling wearing an orange scarf and brown shirt.

Diana MacKenzie

Public Art Program Educator from 2007-2016, Diana has a BFA in Printmaking from Syracuse University and creates mixed-media works inspired by her travels, combining her interests in printmaking and sculpture. She received her M.A.T. from Mount Holyoke College in June 2017, and continues teaching visual arts to children and adults.