Project: Mixed Media – Change of State
Participants: Year 4/5 pupils
Partnering with: Hyrstmount Junior
Artist: Fiona Goodwin
Science topic: States of Matter
To link with the States of Matter topic we have chosen to focus on grouping and comparing substances and materials according to their physical properties. We will conduct heating and cooling experiments with liquids, pigments and wax to see how their states change in response to different temperatures and heat sources, and make observational drawings to record our findings. We’ve got ideas about experimenting with different coloured pigments and liquids to see how they react on different surfaces such as blotting paper and fabric, which will give us the visual material for our final artwork – possibly a 3D installation.
Wow, what a great start, so much fun! We began the session by splitting ourselves into three table groups for the experiments that lay ahead. We are Red, Yellow and Blue groups initially as we’re referencing the colour wheel as part of our investigations. We’ve carried out tests so far on absorbent and non-absorbent materials, both wet and dry, exploring ink, water, baking soda, vinegar, PVA and ice. We’ve carried out controlled experiments (as controlled as possible in our excitement!) with mobile and frozen states of water, charting our colour mixing studies and predictions and documenting them as we go. Some experiments went to plan, others didn’t, but our journey was one of excitement, discovery and surprise as the comments below suggest.
“The water is expanding onto the paper…the ink will dilute across the page on wet paper…it feels waxy”
“It’s gone like a rainbow colour and spread out…I can’t wait to use the vinegar, it sounds fun!”
“My prediction for the smallest dot was wrong – I put blotting paper but it was actually tracing paper”
Another energetic session with some fabulous results. Our focus this week was on wax, again looking at colour and the changes that take place as its melted. We began by drawing out our first colour experiment, with varying proportions and combinations of colour. This really excited us as they were colours we favoured, and we very quickly generated a range of designs for our melted wax tablets. We carefully laid the graded – so much fun bashing crayons with a rolling pin! – sizes of wax crayons into the tins, crossed our fingers and waited as they were slowly “cooked” and heated in the oven. It happened far quicker than we predicted and the wax melted at a much lower temperature than we expected. The outcomes were interesting, in some cases really pleasing. Some of the high colour was lost, lots of darker tones achieved, and we learnt that wax is a far more difficult medium to control in its melted form. All together though they work beautifully and we’re quite happy! In the latter half of the morning we quickly prepared some colour wash tissue sheets with ink in preparation for our next session, as we hope to build a further wax piece for the exhibition. Can’t wait!
“We’ve made grey, I don’t know how that happened…I put white on it and it exploded. That looks sick!”
“I’ve made gold! How did you do that Brendon?…By mixing yellow and black”
“I like this colour because they are all mixed in, it’s awesome!”
“I put lots of red on with a pipette, then black, then with a pipette I splattered some more black”
Sadly, our final session this week. We began work in earnest, all geared up for our huge team effort, combining our experiences and knowledge gathered so far. In groups we began working on three pieces to sum up our experiments on the changing states of ice and wax, which we hope to feature in the exhibition. Some of us worked on a colour-wheel wax piece using palettes of handcrafted papers created in the previous session – we loved observing the changing state of wax as we immersed our pieces into the wax pots, removing and flattening them into layered sheets as they cooled. It was a warm pleasurable experience for most as our hands got covered in it. Meanwhile another group were busy developing and refining our colour mixing skills in the creation of a large ice and salt piece on paper. The preparations and workings out took a great deal of time and care, but the final piece took just minutes to create. We loved coming together to watch the piece being created, wondering whether the colours would eventually blend and merge together as puddles of colour as we left it to dry. This was followed by one final piece made all together, a one-pot wonder wax dish for the oven using up all our left over wax crayons, which was still melting as Fiona left. It’s been so much fun!
“My favourite part is waxing”
“I loved dipping the paper in the wax pot and feeling the warmth of it”
“Waxing and wax melted, it felt slushy”
“I love colour mixing”
“We put loads of yellow in it to make green”
“I made brighter orange with some orange and yellow and sampled some white”
“We’ve made burnt orange!”
The comments we gathered from the children show their wonder at the visual effects of the changes in materials and recording those changes in a fun way to create a piece of art. Making the final piece for the installation, the colour wheel, involved a great deal trial and error and of skilful colour blending to create the finished product.
Having a professional artist working with them gave the children a great boost and the fact that there was a real purpose to the sessions – i.e. producing a finished piece of art for display in a gallery – gave them a feeling of genuine pride in their work.
The trip to MOSI was a particular highlight, especially for children who don’t often get the opportunity to visit museums outside school.