Wednesday, February 22, 2012

makin' macchia

My kindergartners are making these beautiful "Macchia" in the style of Dale Chihuly! These are SUPER duper easy to make and every single one of them turns out breathtakingly beautiful.

Before we even started, I showed them a portion of the video "Chihuly in Action" so they could see how glass is actually blown and made. We then viewed some macchia from the Macchia Loop on his website. We talked about how "macchia" means "spotted" in Italian and about the process we would use to create Macchia of our own without using the dangerous supplies Chihuly uses to create the real deal. The kids loved how Chihuly initially called his Macchia series "the uglies"!!!

You will need:

3 coffee filters per child

Water-soluble markers (Crayola work perfectly!)

HEAVY spray starch

cups or yogurt containers

rubber bands

mat-board for final display

*I found that 3 works nicely for a display and they were able to complete this many in one class period. Obviously, vary this for your needs!

Process: Have students use marker to color designs on the coffee filters. Make sure you have something underneath (scrap paper or place mat) to catch the colors because they bleed through. Lay completely colored filters over cups and secure with rubber bands. I allowed my students to spray their own projects with the starch. They loved to watch the colors bleed together! It takes about 6-8 hours for the macchia to completely dry. It takes about 6-8 hours for the macchia to completely dry. When they were dry, we took them off and arranged them on a piece of 8x8 matboard!

You could extend this project in many different ways--

  • Make a "ceiling" of Macchia similar to the ceiling at the Bellagio in Las Vegas

  • Have students use color schemes on each different coffee filter (complimentary, secondary, primary, tertiary, hot, cool,etc)

  • Have students re-tell the macchia-making process or write about it (cause and effect)

*We used our iPads and an app called Fotobabble to re-tell the process of creating the Macchia. These Fotobabbles were displayed with the students' work. More on that later!

Happy Macchia-making!


  1. these are beautiful! I'm definitely going to try this out!

  2. Joanna, these are beautiful. Love working with coffee filters. Pinned.

  3. Not sure if you have seen our district Chihuly blog or not?!? When we had Chihuly's work at two locations in Nashville...we did a push of it in the district.

  4. Are they supposed to become hard when completely dried? 'Just checked on some I did as a test, and after 5 hours, they're dry, but feel just about like they do without paint and starch. They're beautiful, but just not sturdy, as I thought they'd be. Did I do something wrong?

  5. I'm the Editorial Assistant for Fun Family Crafts and I wanted to let you know that we have featured your project! You can see it here:

    If you have other kid-friendly crafts, we'd love it if you would submit them. If you would like to display a featured button on your site, you can grab one from the right side bar of your post above. Thanks for a neat project idea!

  6. I love this lesson. I am having first grade do this and every other grade wants to do it as well. Dale Chihuly taught at my school (RISD) when I was a student, so I have a special passion for his work and love being able to translate it into something simple and doable for the students. Thank you!