Thursday, May 10, 2012

Mr. Imagination's Creations

I am always on the look-out for teaching students about awesome, seldom "undiscovered" artists. I mean, everyone knows about Picasso. Everyone knows about Van Gogh....but have you ever heard of Mr. Imagination?!

Mr. Imagination (born Gregory Warmack) is one of those artists the kids never tire of, and I love doing this lesson with my Kindergartners! Pictured above is me standing under the "Unity Arch" at the House of Blues in Orlando, Florida. Mr. Imagination built the Unity Arch out of cement, plaster and thousands of little knick-knacks given to him from passers-by as he was building the Arch. 
This is a close-up picture of some of the things in the Arch. Other things include dog tags, a space-traveled coin, dentures, earrings, and family photographs. Mr. Imagination built the Unity Arch in 1998 and dedicated it to the late Princess Diana. 
With my kiddos I seek to give them the same artistic freedom Mr. Imagination had--- to create a "memory tile" using plaster, beads, buttons, and baubles of significance to them.This is how I set their tables up, a cup of pre-measured dry plaster, pre-measured water, square (donated--- they used to be allergy shot trays) trays, and a tray of buttons, beads and other treasured items.
 My students mix the water into the plaster cups and mix with a popsicle stick.

 They then scoop out the plaster into the tray. I intentionally make it a little runny so it doesn't harden before they want it to!
 The fun part comes when they get to go through the "treasure tray" to pick things out that pertain to themselves... certain colored or shaped beads, animals, soccer balls, sea shells, etc.

 They then start dropping the items into the plaster and create their masterpiece!

 I also love having the students monogram them with their first initial, and they like it too (though it is difficult for some!) My Kindergartners are currently making these for Mother's Day gifts, so most of them want to include their first initial! Fine-motor skills, anyone? Anyone?!

 While Mr. Imagination had a large Arch which showed "unity" by unifying all different walks of life into one piece of artwork, my Kindergartners did the same thing (just on a much smaller scale). They created a memory tile that gave their audience (Mom) a glimpse into their interests (colors, numbers, age, letters, balls, etc). A treasure a Mom will adore...and a work they can be proud of!

 When the projects were dried we popped them out of their trays, decorated some paper bags and sent them home for Mom to enjoy! What's not to LOVE about these beauties?!
 For a more advanced option, you can do this with cement and foil cake pans. You can use glass beads or tiles and create garden stepping stones. Plaster has been the way to go for my Kindergartners since I have 138 of them. I have also done this lesson and have asked parents to send in a meaningful item for their kids to embed in the plaster, but not all participated and it made things difficult. I find that if I have a large assortment of "stuff" it works out great!

Happy creating (and Happy Mother's Day!)

Joanna Davis-Lanum is a National Board certified Art Teacher at Garden Elementary School in Venice, Florida. She is the author and voice behind her classroom blog We Heart Art and adores "handmade anythings" from children. For more lessons or ideas, please hop on over to see more!


  1. This is an amazing lesson!! I love your blog!

    1. Thank you!!! It's definitely a FUN one!

  2. Love the photo of the Unity Arch! Amazing! Fab project too for children too which resulted.

    What a lovely blog!

    Glad you popped by my blog yesterday, so I could return and say "Hi!" It's been a pleasure visiting you :D

  3. What a lovely lesson with such a great example. I bet your students love this! Carolyn

  4. Awesome lesson ... and what a special Mother's Day gift! I pinned your post to the Mother's Day Ideas Pinterest board at

  5. This is a great idea that can be modified for letter and number recognition, matching shapes and colors - not to mention a great visual motor activitiy! Thanks for sharing!


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