Let’s Make Macchias!

Picture1Chihuly wears the patch to cover an injury from a car accident he experienced while exhibiting his work in London

Dale Chihuly, a living glass sculptor, not pirate, has been the featured artist during our first unit of study this school year. Chihuly’s work is world famous and easily recognizable due to his ability to transform molten glass into unique forms for the creation of his giant glass installations.

Picture2 What kind of mood do you think this sculpture would be in if it were a living, breathing object?

Picture3This sculpture can be found in the Indianapolis Children’s Museum. It is 5 stories high and contains 3,200 pieces of glass! Some of our students have been lucky enough to see it in person! I’m jealous! Our school-wide Chihuly installation will look something like this piece!

Picture4Chihuly is from Washington State. The environment and natural resources of the Pacific North West serve as huge inspiration for his work. What do you see when you look at these Chihuly forms? What from our own unique DC city-scape could serve as inspiration to us?

Students have learned about the different states of matter that glass can take, as well as the chemical makeup  of the material. They also know that glass blowing is a collaborative art form and takes multiple team mates to form even just one piece.

Picture6Reheating liquid glass in the Glory Hole–a 2000 degree furnace!

Picture5Flexing molten glass into signature Chihuly forms in preparation for a large scale glass installation

We kicked off our Chihuly unit by creating macchias. Macchia (MAH-key-ah), which is Italian for “spotted,” are one of Chihuly’s famous sculpted forms. His idea for creating macchias started on a train trip when he challenged himself to blend all 300 colors of glass into different color combinations. With so many colors, some people thought his new creations were ugly, but Chihuly loved them and kept on making them. Today, they are displayed in museums around the world!


Our macchias, made from coffee filters, introduced us to color blending and manipulating forms. We created “spotted” designs with washable markers on coffee filters then sprayed the filters with liquid starch and sculpted the wet, liquid forms as if we were bending molten glass. When the starch dried, our macchias froze in the positions we sculpted them in. The process mimicked the time sensitive nature of glass. Artists must work quickly to form their pieces before the 2000 degree glass cools. Each Maury macchia is unique in form and color.  Can you spot your favorite?

for blog 012Mini Chihuly artists hard at work. These kindergartners in Mrs. Vick’s class are at the early stages of their artistic process. They begin by coming up with complicated color combinations for their macchia.

for blog 026This artist took note of the fine detail Chihuly includes in his glass work by incorporating one of his signature colored rims in her design.  She also applies her color in spots, like a true macchia!

for blog 030Mrs. Cooper’s first graders hard at work in the dimly lit studio.

maury and chicago 016This 5th grade artist begins sculpting her macchia around a solid form so that her wet work will take the  same form once dried

maury and chicago 015Spraying our forms with liquid starch to mimic the liquid to solid transformation of glass

maury and chicago 159The hallways at Maury are lined with over 350 macchias!

maury and chicago 158Each form is unique!

maury and chicago 157

maury and chicago 163

maury and chicago 160

From creating macchias, to grasping the complex world of color theory, to planning, creating and implementing the designs for our installation and learning how glass art is made, all Maury artists have been deeply involved in each  aspect of the artistic process. Stay tuned for the next steps in our school-wide installation project!

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