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Family Activity Inspired by Jun Kaneko's Dangos

Jun Kaneko layers tons of clay over weeks and months to shape some of the world’s largest ceramic artworks. With a touch of humor, the artist refers to these objects as dangos, after a Japanese term for dumplings and other gently rounded forms. He finishes his dangos with colorful patterns of geometric shapes, abstract marks, and drips. His work is currently on view in the exhibition The Space Between: Frank Lloyd Wright | Jun Kaneko at Frank Lloyd Wright’s Martin House in Buffalo.

In this activity for kids and families we’ll walk you through how to make your own paper dangos inspired by Jun Kaneko.

Installation view of The Space Between: Frank Lloyd Wright | Jun Kaneko at Frank Lloyd Wright's Martin House. Photograph by Brenda Bieger.

Getting Started

  • What patterns and colors can you see on the surface of Kaneko’s dangos?
  • Apart from pattern and color how else are the dangos different from one another?
  • If you were to paint one of these giant forms how would you like to decorate it?

Materials

  • Thick white paper or cardstock (a cereal box or some cardboard also works)
  • Selection of colored construction paper (three half sheets in different colors)
  • Coloring materials (markers, crayons, or colored pencils)
  • Scissors
  • Pencil
  • Glue stick
  • Tape

Artmaking Activity

1. Sketch the shape of a dango or rounded form on your thick paper or cardstock. Then draw a right-angled triangle for a stand and a rectangle for a base (see below). Cut out all three shapes.

2. Use your coloring materials to draw different patterns (stripes, spots, squares, etc.) on each of your sheets of construction paper to give your sculpture some character.

3. Cut sections from each of your patterned papers and lay them out on your dango. Stick each piece of construction paper down with your glue stick. Then, turn over your dango and cut off the excess construction paper from around the edge.

4. Attach your stand to the back of your dango with a piece of tape. You can also add your base if you want your finished dango to look like it’s sitting on a platform.

Find somewhere to display your finished piece!

Vocabulary

Pattern: a repeated decorative design

Sculpture: the art of making two- or three-dimensional representative or abstract forms, especially by carving stone or wood or by casting metal or plaster

Ceramic: pots and other articles made from clay hardened by heat

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