Julie Lagace’s seventh grade art students work on their Chihuly-inspired chandelier. From left: Josh Liebes, Brandon Wallace, Isabel Phalen, Audrey Newbrey-Smith. Photos courtesy of Julie Lagace.

Julie Lagace’s seventh grade art students work on their Chihuly-inspired chandelier. From left: Josh Liebes, Brandon Wallace, Isabel Phalen, Audrey Newbrey-Smith. Photos courtesy of Julie Lagace.

Plastic bottle chandelier complete after months of work

Chief Kanim Middle School students completed the project in December 2018.

Chief Kanim Middle School (CKMS) art students recently completed one of the largest art projects they’ve ever attempted.

For about 11 months, some 150 students have been working on a Chihuly-inspired chandelier made of plastic bottles.

Julie Lagace, an art teacher at CKMS, saw a need for a large art installation at the school.

“It started with this great space in my school that was begging for a large installation. I have a teacher friend in Edmonds that had created a Chihuly-styled sculpture for her school auction and I thought the idea would be perfect for the space,” Lagace said.

The project began last March when Lagace asked her students to help with design ideas for the chandelier. She said she’s always been a supporter of reusing and recycling materials, and so she enlisted the school’s help to collect plastic water bottles. Over three months, the project collected more than 1,000 plastic water bottles.

For the following months, students in art club and art class painted, Mod Podged and cut the bottles and attached them to three panels of 4 feet by 6 feet chicken wire.

Lagace said she was impressed and grateful to the students who worked on the chandelier.

“It was so rewarding to have a lot of students working on it. We needed a lot of hands, and it was great to see students from all grades working together on it,” she said.

On the last day of school, Lagace and her students put together the chandelier only to realize it wasn’t going to work.

“We were a little over-ambitious. The first time we put the chandelier together, the three panels were extremely heavy and the shape wasn’t as originally intended,” she said.

Lagace and the students said they would return to the chandelier in the fall and find a way to make it work.

“We took one panel apart, cut down the shape of the remaining two panels and tried putting it together to see if it would work — it did,” she said.

While many hands worked on the chandelier, Lagace said there were two students in particular who wanted to see the project through.

Nicole Alexander and Grace Carnes, seventh-grade students at the time, “were truly the engines behind the project,” Lagace said.

“They were the ones who stayed late after school and worked to make sure this chandelier was complete,” she said. “I’m proud of their work and determination.”

The completed chandelier was officially installed in the entryway of CKMS on Dec. 4.

“It is so great to see this work of art greet the students of this school everyday, and I’m thankful I’m at a school that cares about the arts,” Lagace said.


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Julie Lagace poses with eighth grade students, Nicole Alexander and Grace Carnes, with the completed chandelier. Photos courtesy of Julie Lagace

Julie Lagace poses with eighth grade students, Nicole Alexander and Grace Carnes, with the completed chandelier. Photos courtesy of Julie Lagace

Eighth graders Nicole Alexander and Grace Carnes were among the few students who continued working on the project after the school year ended. Photo courtesy of Julie Lagace

Eighth graders Nicole Alexander and Grace Carnes were among the few students who continued working on the project after the school year ended. Photo courtesy of Julie Lagace

The completed chandelier hangs in the entry hallway of Chief Kanim Middle School. Photo courtesy of Julie Lagace

The completed chandelier hangs in the entry hallway of Chief Kanim Middle School. Photo courtesy of Julie Lagace

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