Glue Art for Kids: Ancient Assyrian Metalworking
The Assyrian Empire is known for its rich material culture—magnificent stone wall reliefs, colossal gateway figures, and legendary towers. Often overlooked, however, is Assyrian metalwork. Assyria had a thriving metalworking industry, considered superior to any contemporary state in the region. Much of ancient Assyrian metalwork was excavated from the Assyrian city Nimrud between 1949 to 1963. Assyrians produced large quantities of sophisticated bronze and ironwork—some of which were intricately decorated.
Here’s a unique art activity for you to try with your kids. It’s simple, exciting, and gives kids a reason to use glue for a purpose other than gluing (which is pretty much their dream come true). The only catch—it’s a two-day project. Luckily, both parts to this project are equally exciting.
- Elmer’s glue
- Metallic acrylic paint (stick to gold, bronze, and silver colors)
- Paintbrushes (or sponges)
- Photos of ancient Assyrian patterns
- Take some time to google “Assyrian art patterns.” You will find many exquisite designs that can serve as your inspiration for this project. Print some of your favorite images to be your guides when drawing out the patterns. You can make this step part of your prep work, or you can decide to do it with your child. Either way, before getting started, be sure to take some time to discuss the various geometric patterns, the similarities between designs, and common features—such as the Assyrian stone rosette. Also, talk to them about the history of metalworking.
- If the kids are old enough, they may be able to do this step on their own. But for the younger ones, you’ll want to include this as part of your prep. Using a pencil, draw Assyrian-style designs on pieces of cardboard. Different sizes will make for a more interesting project, but we recommend that you keep the shape to a rectangle “plaque.” Keep the designs simple, both to remain true to Assyrian designs and to avoid winding up with a big blob of glue when we get to the next step. We simply cut up cardboard boxes to use for our plaques.
- Now that you’ve got your patterns down on the cardboard plaque, use Elmer’s glue to trace over the pattern. Remind the kids to go easy on the glue, and have them start at the top and work their way down. Your child may not follow the design exactly (it’s tough for even adults to do!), and that’s perfectly fine—the end result will still be great.
- Let the glue dry overnight. It will dry clear.
- Once dry, have the kids use paintbrushes (or sponges) to paint over the designs using the metallic acrylic paints. Be sure to cover the entire plaque. Encourage children to paint in streaks for a smoother end result—but of course it’s okay if they don’t.
- The plaques will dry quickly. Once they do, they look awesome! The kids will love the process and their final pieces—we promise.
- We picked up all of our paints at Michael’s Craft Store. We went with Emperor’s Gold, Venetian Gold, Rose Gold, Worn Penny, and Shimmering Silver (all DecoArt products). Never pay full price at Michael’s. They’ve always got great coupons on their site, and be sure to check out RetailMeNot where you might find a better deal. It varies.
- When letting the glue dry, be sure the cardboard is set on a completely flat surface. Otherwise, the glue will slowly but surely start sliding across the plaque, distorting your design, and will likely drip over the edge.