Wednesday, August 13, 2014

3D Kandinsky-Inspired Melted Cups Art

It's been ages since I snuck some art history into our after school learning. This project combines mixed media, three-dimensions, and melting (yep, that's right - melting!) - all of which made this a little more palatable for my art-avoiding oldest son.

Wassily Kandinsky is considered the pioneer of abstract art. His works were perfect to explore with my son who has the opinion that if your art doesn't look like real life, it's no good. We talked a lot about the criticism that Kandinsky must have faced.

We looked at a gallery of his work online and stopped at his color study of concentric circles. This was the work that inspired our activity.

What you Need
9 oz clear plastic tumbler solo cups
Permanent markers in a broad range of colors
Parchment paper
Construction Paper (optional)
Hot glue (optional)

What to Do
Color the outside of the cups with bands of color using permanent markers. Start by coloring a circle in the middle of the cup's bottom and continue outward using a variety of colors in varying thicknesses.

When you're done, use scissors to trim the lip of the cup off.

Place the cups two inches apart on a parchment paper-lined jelly roll pan.

Preheat an oven to 250 degrees F. for a few minutes. Then put the pan of cups into the oven and watch the magic happen through the window on the door.

Our cups didn't flatten completely, but the translucent colors of the marker became vivid and solid. The effect was truly magical.

To finish, cut colored squares of construction (or cardstock) paper. Glue to a piece of flat cardboard or mat board, and with hot glue, adhere the melted cup circles. Display in a shadow box frame.

To enhance my fourth grade son's understanding and appreciation for Kandinsky's art, we read a wonderful fiction book by Barb Rosenstock. The Noisy Paint Box: The Colors and Sounds of Kandinsky's Abstract Art explains beautifully the wonderful integration of music and art in Kandinsky's work by watching his interest in art grow and develop from the time of childhood.

This project was inspired by the mobiles on Arts for Life.


  1. This is such a cool project! Did the plastic smell when it melted in the oven?

    1. It didn't, but I purposely did the project on a cool day in case we needed to open windows. I was pleasantly surprised there wasn't a noticeable odor.

  2. WOW - this is awesome on so many ways. I am a Kandinsky fan! Will try soon!

  3. Going to use this project in conjunction with Phoenician history lesson. Very cool way to have fun with "glass Art"

  4. How long does it take for them to completely melt down? I am trying it right now and its been in for about 10 min and the edges of the bottom are just starting to curl but it doesn't look like much is happening.