Thursday, June 16, 2011

3D wooden blocks - Children's Auction Art Project

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Remember last year's (2010) auction art project 'Vase with Flowers'?  And last February's  'Our Neighborhood' from the primary students? Well I'd finally like to share the lower elementary class auction art project 'Our Universe.'
children's school auction art project

Dan helped me cut 4x4 posts to varying lengths.  Because a 4x4 isn't truly 4 inches by 4 inches, these squares were about 3.5 x 3.5 inches.

The students primed the blocks with gesso and then painted each one with acrylic black paint.
tutorial watercolor school auction art project

Working with one to three kids at a time, I gave a short tutorial on watercolor techniques while referring to a laminated poster of samples I painted.

Each student was given a piece of watercolor paper divided into four 4x4 pieces using blue painter's tape.

The students were encouraged to use a limited color pallet to avoid muddy paint.  We received our bright wonderful watercolors as a donation from Discount School Supplies.

After all paintings were dried and complete, each student chose his or her best two.  The watercolors were then sprayed with UV protectant and a gloss and allowed them dry.  We separated them (making sure names were on the back) and played around with their overall placement for the final piece.

Separately from the watercolors, we organized the blocks in an equal type fashion.

The students helped give the final okay.  Everyone voted and decided upon the name "Our Universe."

Each block and coordinating watercolor was given a code from A-1 through H-9.  Actually I had to have help with that.  For some reason, I just could not get the letters and numbers from my head to my hand.  (call me coocoo.....)

With the help of the teacher and the room mother, we traced and cut the papers to match the coordinating block. Because we didn't plane the posts, each block was shaped slightly different around the edge.  Getting it just right was a bit tricky.  We then glued the painting to the block using an artist quality glue......but NOT before writing down the code and coordinating name of student (for graph).

8 blocks one way was different then the other way due to slight differences in size.  

The frame consisted of two 1x4s and one 1x2 planed and glued together.  The corners were mitered, a back was added and the whole thing was glued and nail gunned together.  We primed, painted and glossed the frame.

Next I double checked the placement of the blocks.  A couple adjustments were needed to achieve a balanced piece.

In a fast maner, Dan and I glued each block to the frame using liquid nails.  The glue dries quickly so we had to keep up a certain pace to literally allow for wiggle room.  

The final piece was absolutely beautiful.

Dan added a support bracket to help with weight.

This was quite a piece!  Unfortunately I did not do a sample one with my family first.  Maybe someday we'll make something similar for us to keep!

Thanks to the wonderful family who won the bidding war at the auction. 
 May you enjoy it for years to come!

A big THANK YOU also to DISCOUNT SCHOOL SUPPLIES for their awesome donation of watercolor and brushes!  Thank you so much!!!!


  1. It is out of this world Laura! Great idea and great shots and descriptions of each step. You continue to inspire....

  2. This is incredible! I would love to do this for our school auction! What did you use for the back?

  3. Thanks! We used 1/4 inch plywood for the back. Best of Luck!!!

  4. I love this! I am going to attempt it for my son's third grade class auction project. Do you have a good site/book that explains techniques for watercolor painting? Thanks for your awesome directions and inspiration!

  5. Here is my link for water color:

    Thanks! Good Luck! Please send pictures!

  6. Love this! You just glued the paper to the block of wood?
    Going to try this one for my daughter's class!

  7. Would be cool with black and white versions of baby photos or other photos.
    Great project!!! Love it. I've headed up quite a few years of class art projects for it to then be sold at auction. It is fun, but tiring. I love this one big time. Thanks for posting.

  8. Love the project! Did you use a treated 4"x4" post? We can't find one that is not treated.

  9. I love this idea! I've been wanting something to hang over my fireplace and now I think I have an idea formulating! Thanks for sharing the "how to". Great instructions.

  10. I am attempting this project, thank you for the inspiration! Could you tell me what kind of glue (brand) you used to adhere the water color paper to the blocks? Thank you!!!

  11. I want you to know that my daughter's class is attempting to make this for our class auction project and it is coming out beautifully! This is the most awesome project we have seen in a long time! THANK YOU SO MUCH!! for the inspiration!!

  12. You are so sweet. I'm glad to know it's turning out okay. Send pictures when you are done!

  13. Honestly I'm not sure the brand blue. It was an art quality no acid white glue. Just make sure your paper is thick enough to be glued, and don't get it too thick. Make sure there are no bubbles.

  14. I was recently tasked with putting together an art piece to be auctioned off for my son's 1st-3rd grade class. Thank goodness for your blog! It took my just "okay" concept and turned it up about 11 notches. We are lucky enough to have a school that has all of their classrooms named after famous artists... so how cool was it to take your idea, but instead of having each child create their own block of art, we took "Wheat Field with Cypresses" and had each child recreate one or two grid sections of this Van Gogh masterpiece. It turned out so beautifully! The auction is tomorrow night and I can't wait to see what we fetch. Thanks again for your wonderful idea.

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