UM-Flint ECDC Toddlers Create Water Bottle Chandelier

Share or print this article
ECDC children help create chandelier.
ECDC children help create chandelier.

For the two-year-old children bustling around in the Fiore classroom at the University of Michigan-Flint’s Early Childhood Development Center, grasping an empty water bottle holds great potential for fun.

Just pushing the box that contains the bottles across the floor, then reaching down to grab one and hand it to their teacher brings them joy.

In recent weeks, the children in Diana Hensley’s class at the ECDC have been using empty water bottles to create a beautiful chandelier which, when finished, will be displayed by the dining area windows at the Flint Farmers’ Market May 10-12.

ECDC children maneuver a box of empty water bottles for their project.
ECDC children maneuver a box of empty water bottles for their project.

Though the center’s water is filtered and continues to be tested safe, the center has received donations of bottle water, leaving plenty of empty bottles for use in the classroom project.

The project is intended to help the Flint community view plastic water bottles in a positive light and to see this artwork through the eyes of the children who happily picked the colors, shook the paint-filled bottles, and sang songs as they created it.

“The purpose of it is to create something beautiful out of an ugly situation,” Hensley said.

With that in mind, Hensley’s research turned up a water bottle chandelier project inspired by renowned glass artist Dale Chihuly. Chihuly’s work is familiar to visitors of the Flint Institute of Arts who can see his FIA Persian Chandelier permanently on display by the lobby skylight.

Children admire the colors of their developing chandelier with Diana Hensley, head teacher.
Children admire the colors of their developing chandelier with Diana Hensley, head teacher.

To create their chandelier, the teachers work with the children to identify and select different paint colors, pour paint into the bottles, cap them, and shake them.

The children sing songs while shaking the bottles to distribute the paint. After the paint dries, the kids hand Hensley their bottles one by one, as she cuts ribbons of colored plastic from each bottle and arranges them into the chandelier.

“It’s pretty” was one child’s first impression of the unfinished project—the perfect name for their chandelier. Be sure to look for the ECDC’s “It’s Pretty” chandelier on display at the Farmers’ Market this week.

Contact the Office of University Relations with comments, questions, or story ideas.