Creativity at the Museum: Collaborative Art Project

When the idea first came up for me to build a larger-than-life replica of a bioluminescent Jack-o’-Lantern mushroom (Omphalotus olearius), I had to say yes!

After the completion of the firefly and smaller mushroom models in late June, this project began to take shape. The opportunity to create a collaborative art piece with the public seemed too good to be true, and I could not wait to start working on it.

A cart loaded with supplies.

The set up: our cart with all the essentials. Lots and lots of newspaper for the papier-mâché! And lots of cleaning materials for the mess! Image: Stephanie Hachey © Canadian Museum of Nature

For this sculpture we created a wooden stand for the mushroom to insure stability. Chicken wire was moulded around the stand to create the initial shape of the mushroom replica. Papier-mâché is placed over the wire to create the hard surface for the sculpture. After papier-mâché has dried you are able to paint over it (we will be using glow-in-the-dark paint). With these simple materials you can even make your own sculptures right at home!

A large cloth protects the floor while a sculpture is being made.

Our set-up in the museum. Image: Stephanie Hachey © Canadian Museum of Nature

On the first day of the project, we were off to a great start! I had a fantastic helper come by and tell me all of these wonderful ideas for how to make the sculpture look (and I quote) “Awesome!” He helped me decide where to put some wire, told me how to properly apply the papier-mâché, and came up with the idea that when it is finished, I should illuminate it with blue and green lights.

A girl works on the sculpture.

Our wonderful helper Evelyn adding papier-mâché to the sculpture! Great job! Image: Stephanie Hachey © Canadian Museum of Nature

One of my most memorable assistants was Evelyn, who kindly gave up most of her afternoon to help with the project! Evelyn, being very talented with art, has helped me with the papier-mâché step of the project—allowing for the sculpture to take its shape. Evelyn also was a great helper, showing others how to place the papier-mâché onto the sculpture.

The sculpture.

Close-up of the current stage we are at. Finishing up the papier-mâché shell and then on to painting! Can’t wait to see it glow! Image: Stephanie Hachey © Canadian Museum of Nature

After we complete the papier-mâché, the next step in the project is to paint! We will put a few coats of primer down and then glow-in-the-dark paint to add the final touches of our bioluminescent mushroom replica.

I have had a great experience working with our helpers so far and look forward to seeing the rest of you between now and mid-August! Don’t miss out on this great opportunity to create a collaborative art piece for the Canadian Museum of Nature!

This program runs
• Wednesdays and Sundays
• 10 AM – noon, 1:30 PM – 4 PM
• until August 13, 2014
• on the first floor, in the rotunda.

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