Sweet Treats Activity: Making Art That Looks Like Dessert

In this activity, found objects (yarn, tissue, bottle caps, etc.) are used to create art so good it appears edible.
By Meghan Burch

Ages

3-13

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Art Studio interns at The Carle help us in many ways, including with documenting our Every Day Art Program. It’s been great to have our J-Term intern Gabby's vibrant spirit here with us the past couple of weeks! Please enjoy her words and photos about the project Sweet Treats, in which children's love of art, along with inspiration from a zany poem, unite to create an art project you can do with your own child at home.

There’s something about the two-syllable word dessert that makes eyes of all colors, shapes, and sizes light up. We ask children, “What kinds of dessert do you like?” And the question is followed by a pensive pause, a bright flicker in the eyes, and either an assertive “ICE CREAM” (for one example), or the quintessential, "It’s hard to choose." We then hand over a (cardboard) plate, and tell museum attendees they get to make dessert. Initial hesitation is followed by wondrous fabric, paper, and tacky glue treats that would humble the Cake Boss himself!

The wacky ingredients for these Sweet Treats parallel the zany ingredients in Jack Prelutsky’s poem, "Bleezer’s Ice Cream." With a couplet rhyme scheme, the body of Prelutsky’s poem merges ingredients from the depths of the refrigerator to create ice cream flavors that make even the most daring taste-testers cringe!

In addition to the cardboard plate, the ingredients for the Sweet Treats are found objects — bottle caps, plastic eggs, tissue paper, puzzle pieces, fabric, wire, and colorful tape. Technically the Top Chefs who walk into the studio to make sweet treats aren’t baking edible arrangements, but the products look and sound more appetizing than the poem's “Almond Ham Meringue Salami [or] Yam Anchovy Prune Pastrami.”

Somewhere at the intersection of art, literacy, and the sweet tooth is a joyous activity fit for all ages. Sweet Treats is a great project because it allows people to repurpose material that tends to be relegated to specific tasks in order to create three-dimensional mixed-media collages. The nauseating combinations in the text of Jack Prelutsky’s poem are not only fun to read, but they also inspire guests to step outside of their comfort zone and make crazy concoctions. Guests don’t have to worry about messing up, because the more ludicrous the flavor or design, the more interesting the product is. People created their divine treats using the objects on tables before them, and others were inspired to use brain power to write down crazy treats on the board in the front of the studio. Everyone’s love for a treat after dinner, and an entertaining text, are part of the recipe that results in a project that everyone can enjoy.

Guests that came to look at art, stroll the halls of the Carle, and create in The Studio, have left as world-class bakers!

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