Friday, February 15, 2019

Homeschool Art: The Fake Slime Spill

We did not do this project on the first day of April, but it WOULD make a terrific April Fool's Day prank!

You might remember that Syd has been obsessed with slime since... honestly, I think it's been since before slime became a universal tween obsession. It's been a looooooong time. We've been making oobleck and gak since the kids were babies, but Syd, especially, has taken ownership of the slimer lifestyle since at least 2015.

She did an entire science fair presentation on slime in 2017!

In 2018, while she was away at camp, I set her up with an entire slime studio space, and I haven't yet regretted having one place where all the slime stuff lives.

Well, I mean sometimes I regret it a little, because it usually looks like this:

But whatever. We don't like that carpet anyway. And we didn't keep our stuff nice even before we had kids, so it's not like they're even the main reason that all our stuff looks like junk.

For this art lesson, I found a slime tie-in and we also explored our other favorite pastime, tormenting Matt.

To begin, we watched this excellent video from PBS Digital Studios:

Our local university's art museum actually owns one of these Duchamp fountains, so we've seen it several times before. There are also these stories of artist's pranks to peruse:

I think the most salient point to make is that by utilizing an artifact to comment on an aspect of our social conditioning, you can defend the claim that this IS art!

What we're about to do, however, is not art. It's just messing with Matt.

I taught the kids that adding paint to white glue will dye the glue. Here, we're using powdered tempera, ideally to keep the consistency of the glue/paint mixture thick, but you can also use craft acrylics (we still have a couple of bottles of this particular set of homemade school glue dyed with acrylic paint, and they're still great!):

Cover a tray with a piece of waxed paper, then comes the best part: make a spill!

The kids tried a couple of different containers, but the most realistic, I think, was the exact same little deli containers that Syd uses to store her slime. Will made a fake spill from a plastic cup, but it didn't end up looking like anything that would be consumable.

After the spills are settled, you have to find an out-of-the-way spot for them to dry out for several days. I didn't mark the time on this, but I wouldn't have been surprised if it was at least a couple of weeks before the kids could peel their fake spills away from the waxed paper.

Shortly before Matt was expected to come home one evening, Syd chose her favorite of the fake spills and set it on the rug in our family room--not right in the middle, but off in a corner, where it could conceivably have gone unnoticed by us during the day. It was next to the coffee table, as if fallen from where a careless child had set it.

I wasn't in the family room when Matt came through, but I clearly heard him saying, "What is THIS?!? SYDNEY!!!!! GET IN HERE!!!!!!!" Bless her heart, she couldn't even keep a straight face for a second, which just made Matt madder until he reached down to pick up the slime container and the whole thing lifted neatly off the rug and the prank was clear. It was possibly one of the best moments of Syd's life to date.

Unfortunately, the prank only worked once, as a similar slime spill in our bedroom was ignored, and so was one in the playroom (fortunately for Syd, because that one was NOT one of the fake ones...). But the kids had made their point, using a created artifact to comment on the social norms of family life and the surface-level assumptions of what it means to be "clean" in society today.

Okay, I made that up. This one wasn't art--just a prank!

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