The number of individual cardboard components I have cut out over the last fortnight.
Those components were masterfully constructed into:
250 Marvelous Masks
400 Outrageously cool Junk Bots
What a seriously crazy and seriously fun fortnight.
What was it all for?
I have met lots of great people on Instagram. It has been an endless source of inspiration for me but also of connection and collaboration. One of the best collaborations has been with the wonderful Liz from Curiosity Works AU who was I was introduced to by my friend and colleague Agnes from Hello Wonderful who ironically lives on the other side of the world!
Liz has been working in public art activation across Sydney for some years now. Our backgrounds and passions for bringing art to all have proven to be a great match and we were thrilled when we were approached by IKEA to present two weeks of holiday workshops under our combined umbrella brand Re-Create.
Sustainability is one of the core values that underpins the IKEA philosophy. With this in mind and my own personal passion for creating 'something from nothing' I designed two activities which used recycled IKEA packaging as the basis of the project.
All the cardboard lovers out there will be with me when I say that IKEA cardboard is the BEST cardboard for art making. It comes in great big, flat sheets that are just begging to be turned into something awesome. After lots of testing and thinking and testing and thinking I decided on jointed Junkbots and Marvelous Masks, then I got cutting...
and cutting, and cutting.......
The other materials for the workshops came from my local reuse center and included bottle tops, lids, foam off cuts, sticky contact and recycled papers.
The Set Up
We were allocated a great big space in the cafe which we could section off and really own. Tables were arranged in groups of 4 and a 'Candy Bar' buffet was set up at the front of the room. This set up works really well for large amounts of people and as long as it is properly monitored allows kids to be really creative and empowered with their material choices while ensuring waste is kept to a minimum.
To decorate the main table I make two big cardboard signs from you guessed it, more IKEA cardboard.
In this set up children are handed a tray and then they move along the bar choosing their materials. For Junkbots they were instructed to take two pieces from box one (heads and bodies) and around four from box 2 (arms, legs and shapes) and then a selection of materials from the other containers. For masks participants chose one cardboard shape for the mask head a selection of materials from the other containers, a large paddle pop stick and tape to attach it.
Other materials and tools such as scissors, hole punches, paint and glue were pre-set on tables to be shared in groups.
The workshop - junkbots
I always like to begin a workshop or project that I do with a child with an open creative prompt. For robots this was easy and a simple question of 'If you had a robot of your own, what would it do?" was enough to get most people creative juices flowing. For those that were still stuck I turned on silly mode and told them all about the dream robot I would design which made me pizza, and cleaned my house while playing all my favourite songs.
Once the families were sat at the tables with their chosen materials myself and the other staff on the day gave a simple explanation of how to punch the holes and insert the split pins to make the joints move. The rest of the instructions we tried as much as possible to keep to an absolute minimum.
I was truly amazed at the variation of bots that came out of this workshop and the amount of people too! On day two alone we made 250 bots in two hours. We had Love Bots, Darth Vadar bots, Dino Bots, Puzzle Bots, bots that planted Flowers, bots that spoke 100 languages and every bot in between!
THE WORKSHOP- MARVELOUS MASKS
The masks were more straight forward in their construction that the bots as they did not strictly speaking require assembly. I really tried to encourage kids to go abstract with the masks as I had found that this worked beautifully in my examples when I layered cardboard shapes, papers and paint in Picasso-esque arrangements. For all my waxing lyrical about the beauty of my cardboard off cuts, I would say about 60% of kids went with something figurative. Did it matter? absolutely not, and I was genuinely surprised and amazed at how ingenuously people used the materials and shaped them to fit what they had designed in their minds.
As this workshop took place in the second week of the holidays it was slightly was slightly quieter with on average 100 per session. Its not always a numbers game though you know as often smaller groups have a better level of engagement and in general stay longer.
What was particularly nice about the second week was the number of parents that got really involved and made their own masks to take home!
And now I am just going to spam you with LOTS of pictured of masks... ENJOY!
Big thanks to Isabella Moore for her wonderful pics and to all the staff that made the event run so smoothly.