Art teachers hate glitter; there’s even a blog called Art Teachers Hate Glitter. Glitter is easy to hate on, it sticks to everything and no matter how well you clean you’ll find flecks of glitter mocking you for months afterwards.
Here’s another reason to loathe glitter; it’s a micro plastic that contributes to water pollution. Those little bits of plastic make their way into the ocean and into the bellies of fishes. Imagine trying to digest glitter! Companies like Bioglitter are now producing glitter made from plant derivatives. Biodegradable glitter has a softer texture compared to plastic glitter and is used for cosmetic, craft and educational purposes.
I did an art lesson with kindergarten and I knew it needed something else—something sparkly—yes glitter! The lesson introduced printmaking and radial symmetry. Kindergarten made snowflakes with cardboard dipped in white paint. When the snowflakes were complete, they looked dry and lifeless. But, there was no way I’d give the little people of kindergarten bottles of glue and sparkle rain. No way not in my art room!
I’m not a total glitter snob. When my kids were little, I allowed them to use glitter, and we called the errant flakes fairy dust. But, if you have 20 little ones sprinkling glitter, it will get nasty.
In my art supply stash, I have a large container of glitter with a variety of colors and types. I think it’s better to use it than tossing it in the landfill. Whether it’s plastic or natural, it will be messy.
Determined to conquer this menace, I experimented with making glue skins impregnated with glitter. I poured white glue onto plexiglass, in a thin layer. While it was wet, I sprinkled glitter on it to encase the glitter in the glue. I thought they would be pliable sheets of glitter that the kids could cut into shapes to glue on their snowflakes. When I peeled the glue skins off of the plexiglass they were flexible, so I cut them into squares. While I was prepping for the lesson I realized that the glitter squares had turned brittle. Not what I was expecting, but the glitter pieces looked like ice shards which went with our wintry snowflakes.
My experiment didn’t eradicate the glitter mess, but the glue encased about 80% of the glitter and I contained it to the area where I poured the glue skins. Best of all, the printed snowflakes came to life by adding the glitter shards!