Art to Go: Andy Ducett's Cabinet of Curiosities
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Art to Go: Andy Ducett's Cabinet of Curiosities

December’s Free First Saturday art-making activity featured local artist Andy Ducett, who’s know for creating 3-D environment of carefully arranged thrift store objects. Below, Andy shares inspiration for the project and steps for how to create your own Cabinet of Curiosities at home.

Getting Started
Artist Joseph Cornell took everyday objects to used them in mysterious ways. Cornell let dreams and the unconscious inspire him, and his work is often associated with the Surrealist movement.Cornell 1993.224.1-.2
You can check out examples of Joseph Cornell’s artwork online, OR, even better, come and see them at the new collections exhibition Event Horizon.

What You Need
1) A sturdy shoe box, about 6″ high, 10″ long and 4″ deep (although any size will work)
2) An old magazine, newspaper, map and some felt or fabric
3) One figurative element ( a plastic animal, action figure, a kid’s meal from fast food restaurant… something to be your box’s “main actor”)
4) A 12″–24″ piece of twine, raffia, string, or another item that creates a line
5) A glue stick, a hot glue gun (with adult supervision!), Mod Podge, or Elmer’s white glue
6) 5–8 mysterious items

Choosing Your “Mysterious Items”
For the Free First Saturday event, we picked up lots of old trinkets. Cornell loved “Victorian” or antique looking items, so look for things both old and used. Smaller objects are better because you don’t want to make the box crowded.
Some possibilities: dominoes, building blocks, scraps of wood, dowels, Lincoln Logs, old nuts and bolts, pieces of old machines, rocks, glass stones, corks, bottle caps, thimbles, puzzle pieces, old game parts, and dice.

Things to Think About
As you are selecting your objects and creating your work ponder these questions:
What sort of things do you dream about?
What do your objects remind you of?
What does it mean to be mysterious?
Is there a story that your box is telling?

The Assembly
Think about Cornell’s work and start to arrange the objects in your box in unexpected ways. Glue something to the ceiling of your box, hide objects behind each other, or pair together unexpected objects. Tear your magazine picture into pieces and cut your felt in unusual patterns. Create something mysterious, like out of a strange dream. Put it all together and you’re done.

Good luck and happy creating. Email pictures of your boxes to

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