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Instructions: Make an Art Storage Box

Make an Art Storage Box art lesson

At the high school, there are roomy built-in wooden drawers for the students to use to hold their materials and project pieces as they work from day to day. We have a few projects coming up which will require lots of little materials and parts to assemble, so students will want to keep theirs separate from those of other students. For example, I will have them create these two wonderful projects from dickblick.com:

Character Nichos
Painted Accordion Books

This coming week, I will assign one drawer per student. Then I will have each student create a new painting on the front of his or her drawer, covering over the paintings of earlier classes. There are over forty drawers, so there will be enough for my two high school art classes. I expect the project to take one week, and they will be able to use acrylic paint.

This left me with the challenge of creating similar storage at the middle school, where there are no such drawers. As I often do in the wee hours of the morning after I am awake but too lazy to get out of bed, I brainstormed. The students really don’t need much more space than, say, a 3″ x 6″ x 3″ box without a lid. 72 such small boxes would take a reasonable amount of shelf space. Eight boxes could fit in one square foot, and pieces taller than six inches in one direction, but narrow in another, would simply stick out of the tops of the boxes.

I came up with the one-week project below.

Materials: 9” x 12” sheet of white tag board, ruler, pencil, scissors, glue, color media.

Click on the image below to download the larger PDF you can print out and copy for student instructions. I drew it in Adobe Illustrator and you may use it too for free.

Make an Art Storage Box

Update 01/11/07

The project is over and went pretty well. I found most of the middle school students to be enthusiastic about creating their own little storage container.

I required my students to decorate the box inside and out, and to put their names on one side of the box. I defined “decorate” as “creating image, pattern or text.” Flat colors were not sufficient.

I made watercolors available for the first time this year. I made a hard and fast “lose your brush privilege” policy: no brushes left sitting vertically in the box or in the water cup. This bends the bristles. I asked them to fold up a sheet of paper towel, and lay the brush on it after it has been rinsed in the cup and is not in use. A number of students lost their brush privilege this project, but they will get another chance next week. I am trying to get them into good habits, and of course I am trying to keep our brushes from being ruined. Many of our brushes are cheap, but the better ones are quite expensive and I don’t want to have to replace them.

Students were also allowed to use collage, construction paper, colored pencils, crayon, and colored markers. One student even used the paper weaving technique we did a few weeks ago. I’ll post up a photo soon.

Update 01/13/07

Here are photos of the finished boxes:

Student Work - artboxes
Student Work - artboxes

Update 01/18/07

Here are the boxes filled with pieces from the Character Nicho project:

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Update 01/31/07

This project has been very successful. After 24 days and much use, the boxes are still intact, large enough for the Nicho project, and extremely useful. I hope to continue using them for the Book project, in which the largest materials are 3″ x 3″.

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