Sunday, March 22, 2015

It's raining in art!

 My DragonWing Arts students recently built the most peculiar-looking batch of rain sticks you've ever seen, but they sound terrific!  To start, we hammered nails spiraling down a cardboard tube.  I was lucky enough to have strong mailing tubes, but other cardboard tubes will work just fine.  Do not put the nails on the spiraling seam in the cardboard, or you will risk splitting the tube. 
 The kids thought it was pretty cool to look down inside the tubes and see the pattern made by the spiraling nails.  
 The students put tape over the nail heads, to secure them.  
Because we were using mailing tubes, we had caps that fit snugly in the ends of the tubes.  But if you are using other cardboard tubes, you can make end caps out of cereal box cardboard, to attach with tabs and masking tape.   Put a cap on just one end, and then test the rain stick for sound, using a selection from rice, beans, popcorn, split peas, barley, and lentils.  (You can also use pebbles or beads.)  If the filling moves too fast through the tube, dump it out and add more nails.  The best rain sticks can have 100+ nails!  Different fillings will make totally different sounds - rice for a soft rain, popcorn for a good steady rain, beans for a heavy shower, and so on.  My students liked making a mix of various ingredients. 
 Once we were satisfied with the way the rain sticks sounded, a second end-cap was added, and the students put a layer of papier-mache over the entire rain stick.  Mailing tubes are sturdy, and only need one or two coats of papier-mache, but if you are using something like a wrapping paper tube, you will want multiple layers of papier-mache to give it additional strength. 
We also added a final layer of papier-mache using a white paper instead of newspaper, so that we could paint the rain sticks without first priming them with gesso. 
 Then the students were given a selection of acrylic paints, and when the rain sticks were painted, they had the option to embellish them with felt, yarn, feathers, and more. 
 This 2nd grade boy, below, decided to make his rain stick look like my giant fake pencil.  The big hunk of orange felt is a pencil grip that he added. 
 A sample of the insane over-imbellishment!
 Below are my samples that I shared with the kids prior to them making their own rain sticks.
 a close-up
And now I wanted end by sharing a brief video of the kids flipping their rain sticks, to show you that, despite the fact that the kids' rain sticks look bizarre, they sound terrific.  But I hit a technical glitch (in other words, I have no idea what the heck I am doing) so unfortunately the video isn't available for you today. 

1 comment:

  1. I love the sound of rain sticks - this looks really fun. Gonna have to try it!

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