Sunday, April 29, 2012

Please Don't Eat the Art

See those right there?  See 'em? What do they look like to you? Popcorn? White cheese puffs?

Well they are all natural. They are made of cornstarch, but I wouldn't put one near my mouth. These splendid little objects are the new bio-degradable packing p-nuts found in all sorts of packages. I have been collecting them for about two years and finally reached a large enough quantity that we are ready to do some sculpture. (Teachers have donated the majority from many science packages shipped to the school)

I start off students with a paper base. We use a circle, however you can likely use any shape you want.

I used this specific size because I didn't want them to work too small.

Cut them out and don't forget to write your name on the back!

Now how do you make sculptures? We moisten each p-nut on a damp sponge. The material melts a wee bit and becomes sticky.

Then press the sticky end onto the base. Repeat this process and begin to stack p-nuts on top of each other. They can be stacked horizontally, vertically, and even diagonally.

I let students use about 20 of these p-nuts and build however they would like to. Some sculptures are tall, short, round, curly, etc. Each one is unique. I also have them choose their 20 before I show them how to stick them together so they don't later lose count.

After their construction, I encourage them to use vibrant color markers to eliminate as much white as possible.

I've seen materials like this in catalogs, but they can cost A LOT.  I was able to get all these free by simply asking people to keep an eye out for those particular packing materials.

I love these because you can make all sorts of connections: recycling, architecture, abstraction, etc. So many options. Clean up is minimal, assembly is easy for any age level, and if someone tries to toss one it isn't going very far.

This project takes about 1 forty minute class and can be loads of fun for that rather wild end of the year.


  1. These cornstarch thingies are actually sold in craftstores through the Netherlands and in Germany in fibrant colours. They are called playmais.

  2. Neat! I've not seen them in craft stores where I live, however they can be ordered through art supply catalogs. I see on Amazon you can get all sorts of kits with the "how to's" on making different shapes of animals.
    Great fun!