Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Recycled Gargoyles~Guest Post!

Wow, another guest post, what fun! This one is written by Elaine Hirsch, who works with Lindsey from my last guest post. Elaine Hirsch is kind of a jack-of-all-interests, from education and history to medicine and videogames. This makes it difficult to choose just one life path, so she is currently working as a writer for various education-related sites and writing about all these things instead. Currently, she is a writer for an online PhD programs website.She has written about how to create gargoyle from cardboard cup holders. We're hoping to add some photos of the process, so check back for that!
Gargoyles from Coffee Trays

Teachers often drink a lot of coffee in order to keep up with students, and often one will go out and get a bunch of coffee for their coworkers, often bringing them back with a carry-out tray. Don't throw these out- collecting coffee trays is the first step towards a fun and educational gargoyle project. Not only does this give students an opportunity to see how entertaining recycling can be, but they will learn how easy and beneficial it is, as well as learn a bit about classical architecture.

Before you get started, a great way to get students excited during their brief gargoyle history lesson is to give them a crash course on the importance of gargoyles in Europe and to show them pictures of several different gargoyles around the world. Gargoyles date back to ancient times. The name comes from the Latin word, gurgulio, meaning to swallow or throat. Kids will recognize the other modern word derived from this root, gurgling! Gargoyles were originally used as rainspouts on buildings, to shunt rainwater off the roof and away from the foundation. They often depicted a frightening face, supposedly to ward off evil spirits. Today, they are more often used as decorative elements on buildings and tombstones, or as Halloween decorations.



Cardboard (5x5 in squares)

Lots of Carry Out Coffee Trays

Egg cartons

Masking tape

Paper pulp



Brown and Gray paint

Paint brushes


1. Make some paper pulp! First, soak shredded newspaper in water and stir. Then strain it, and add 1 cup of white glue to strained paper. It's best to do this shortly before class if you can so that it doesn't dry out beforehand.

2. Cut most of your coffee trays in half- these are to be the eyes. Make sure to leave enough trays to cut into quarters for mouths. Say if you have 20 students, save 10 trays for eyes, and 5 for mouths. Egg crates can be cut any way and used for horns.

3. The flat cardboard is to be used as the base of the gargoyle. Kids will write their names on the back.


1. Take the half piece and bend it in the middle so that it curves out. The curve will be the nose, the indents the eyes. Tape it down to the cardboard with lots of masking tape, but don't tape the bottom down yet.

2. Take the quarter piece and turn it so that the round corner (not the cut corner) makes the chin. Stick it slightly underneath the top half, and tape liberally.

3. Now make sure you tape all the holes on the gargoyle, so that the pulp won't leak through. This would be a good stage to tape on the egg carton horns if you want.

4. If you have time, take each kid's gargoyle and off the extra cardboard around the face.

5. Now kids can sculpt with the paper pulp! They can put it all over the face to create whatever expression or detail they want. Students can squeeze the water out of the pulp before they add it to the face to make it less mushy.

9. Use a liberal amount of glue on the face and then sprinkle sand on it. Let it dry for a day or two, then use brown and gray paint to finish the stony appearance. The result will be a very realistic and textured just as a stone would be. They should also be encouraged to look at recycled items in a new light and feel motivated to continue to create.

When students get creative recycling everyday objects, they can soon see caterpillars and boats and bird feeders out of milk cartons and pizzaboxes. The possible projects are endless. This could also be a good time to teach them about what items are recyclable and which aren't. It's fun and worth the effort!


Pat said...

If you could post some pictures with this tutorial that would be great! Thanks!

Janice Skivington said...

Yes, I am waiting to see some photos!

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