Sculptures in space

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By Robert WattsProgramme Convener for the MA in Art and Design Education at Roehampton University.

Mention rockets, planets and airships and the children’s imagination will run wild. Plastic bottles, cardboard tubes and papier mâché are ideal resources to create a planetary world


A minor incident in our local park last week unexpectedly brought back some happy memories. Alfie, my four-year-old son, accidentally let go of the string attached to the balloon he had just been given and it quickly disappeared into the blue sky, leaving him in tears. As I reassured him that the balloon was off on an adventure to the moon, I was reminded of the hours I spent as a child, patiently transforming boxes and balloons into rockets and planets. I suddenly realised that the best way to stop the tears was to introduce Alfie to the wonders of papier mâché.

If you consult any passing four-year-old before removing the recycling, you will quickly discover that what resembles rubbish to you looks more like potential inter-planetary craft to them. Some plastic bottles seem like they have been purposefully designed to live another life as a spaceship. Exciting transformations can take place in a matter of minutes, but if you want to ensure that the finished results of the craft survive past playtime then papier mâché is the answer. The following are a selection of ideas that could help to reposition your setting in a galaxy far, far away…

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