Saturday Studio: I Found This

Naomi Vanderleest, Education Assistant

Reading the labels in an art museum can be helpful as not only can it tell us who made the work but what materials the artist used to make it. Look at the jellyfish in the picture below. What do you think they are made out of? 

Sayaka Ganz, Japanese, b. 1976. Mysteries. Reclaimed plastic ware, custom designed LED with custom software, wire, heat shrink tubes, cable, tennis racquet wire remnants, 2018. Museum purchase. Photo courtesy of FWMoA.

If you guessed a tennis racquet you would be correct! Sayaka Ganz is a Japanese artist, based in Fort Wayne, who believes that everything has a spirit, even plastic items. When Ganz is creating a new artwork she is inspired by the curvilinear forms of plastic. She looks in thrift stores and trash bins to create pieces of art. Without the artist, these jellyfish would still be in the trash! After reading the label for Mysteries, do you see where she used the tennis racquet wire remnants? Take a closer look..

Sayaka Ganz, Japanese, b. 1976. Mysteries. Reclaimed plastic ware, custom designed LED with custom software, wire, heat shrink tubes, cable, tennis racquet wire remnants, 2018. Museum purchase. Photo courtesy of FMWoA.

The wire was used to create the tentacles of the jellyfish. Can you identify any other materials? Ganz likes to look at animals to create her sculptures and uses certain poses to show the animal’s movement. Seen here with the jellyfish, look at how the tentacles are positioned like it is swimming in the air. She believes it is an artist’s duty to bring the natural world back into people’s lives. Ganz’s work is also about finding harmony in situations that appear chaotic. When viewing her work up close, you might see small holes and gaps. The artist believes it is best to look at her work from afar because these imperfections disappear and the viewer is left with the whole picture, a sculpture in harmony. Today, we’re going to create a sculpture from found objects just like Ganz. When creating your sculpture, don’t be worried about perfection; instead, find beauty in the objects you have, just like Sayaka Ganz.  

Look around your home: do you have items that Ganz would use to make art? Think like an artist and look past the trash to find artwork! Try looking for items like this:

  • Plasticware
  • Wires
  • Wrappers
  • Lids
  • Paper clips
  • Clothes Hangers
  • Containers
  • Anything collecting dust

You will need these items:

  • Glue, Tape, or Plastic Ties
  • Scissors

Not necessary but helpful:

  • A base, such as a block or a plate to attach your sculpture to help it stand
  • Paint to change the color of an object
  • Hot glue gun to help attach pieces together
  • Heat gun to melt plastic and change the shape of objects
  • Hole punch to create space for ties to go through
  • A helper

Now it’s time to brainstorm! What can you create with these items? Try starting with one item. What animal does it remind you of? You don’t have to use a bunch of different things to create a sculpture. Take this artwork, below, for example:

Sayaka Ganz, Japanese, b. 1976. Cluster. Reclaimed plastic party wares, cable 
ties, and adhesive, 2021. Loan from the Artist. Photo courtesy of FWMoA.

This artwork uses plastic bottles and cups to create this grouping of sea anemones. What patterns do you see in the objects that you have? Any similar shapes or colors?

This is the item I started with… What animal does it remind you of? 

I thought it looked like a turtle. The top looks like its arms and the feet look like its flippers. Below is everything that I found to shape my turtle. I already started cutting away at the plastic to find shapes that I could add to my turtle’s shell. 

Once you have an idea, arrange them in a variety of ways. What would happen if you changed the color of that object? If you decide to paint, I would do that next and let the paint dry. Then, you can start attaching objects; and this is when I think your idea really comes to life. I used a heat gun to attach my items because of the way it could change the plastic and create even more unique shapes. Below is my creation: do you see how the plastic changed with the heat gun? What other plastic items do you see? 

If I didn’t have a heat gun, how could I have created this sculpture? Once you have finished creating your sculpture, use glue to make the artwork stable and ensure it doesn’t fall apart. (I used a hot glue gun to help my turtle stay together.) After creating my artwork these are my tips and tricks:

  • Don’t feel pressured to use everything that you find
  • The more items that you find from the trash the better, try to stay away from craft supplies
  • Think about a pose for your animal (how does the animal move in nature?)
  • Scissors can transform plastic materials
  • You can attach objects in a variety of ways, find what works best for you
  • Take your time. If you are using glue, wait for items to dry before you continue to attach
  • If you decide to use a heat gun be careful, once an object is melted it can’t return to its original state
  • Paint isn’t necessary, I decided to not paint my sculpture to highlight the qualities of the plastic

Once you are finished, think about how you gave new life to these objects. What would have happened to them if you wouldn’t have created this artwork? 

2 Replies to “Saturday Studio: I Found This”

  1. So informative and I lightening.. I really enjoyed knowing why the art was formed and the message behind the art.

Leave a Reply

error: Right click disabled for copyright protection.
%d bloggers like this: