Art Cars, Folk Art, and Recycled Art Projects


compiled as a part of World's Largest Things educational division

In studying Outsider and Visionary art environments as well as roadside culture, I travel the backroads of the US. Along the way , I see ordinary objects used in extraordinary ways, from artists using castoffs for their medium to people making cameo portraits out of gum.

Here’s a list of some of the online resources I’ve compiled, focusing on recycled materials in art. Images, directions, lesson plans, and more helpful links are all available for you, dear teacher, to use as you see fit. Please give credit where credit is due.



Art Cars are embellished vehicles that reflect the visions of their creators. Some are sculpturally changed, some are painted, some are glued, some are a combination and they’re all unique. Online plans will tell you how to make a REAL Art Car, as well as ideas for mini Art Cars.


That’s right, cameo portraits made out of gum. Betty Millikin, a Grassroots Artist, came up with a great way of making portraits using chewing gum. Online plans will give you tips, tricks, and techniques for a fun day project that will give your kids permission to chew gum in class! (Only temporarily, though...)


Another great Betty Millikin-inspired lesson, taking grapefruit rinds and producing portraits, dressing them with clothes cut from magazines. Perfect for pulling together a nutrition chapter and art making, this activity is good for all ages.


Ever wonder what to do with those broken toys and doodads you just can’t throw out? Here are Story Boxes - a chance to recycle useless castoffs into interactive storytelling sessions! All you need is junk, glue, a shoebox and some imagination - online resources will give images, discussion questions, and more for a multiple-day activity.


Plans explore Roadside Attractions - perfect for geography and history lessons, these intriguing monuments capture kids’ attention and makes ‘em think. Resources include images, background stories, and an array of activities including poster design, discussion questions, and drawing sheets for “My World’s Largest Thing”.


More Recycled Art resources

Recycled Art explorations can tie in to Earth Day, April 22, as well as America Recycles Day, November 15. This site has an online contest for students making recycled art projects. More recycled art ideas and projects can be found through the following links:

From the Incredible Art Department - a LOT of online lesson plans, on a variety of subjects. Art History lessons, too, to augment some of your other Arts explorations...

Lesson Plans using Art Objects from Albright-Knox Gallery , with student text, teacher text, downloadable images, and resources.

Recycled Art from the Imagination Factory - Great site for ideas, as well as a handy "Match your Trash with a Project" section.
Trashasaurus Rex - a BIG project for a BIG Earth Day environmental statement! You have to at least look...


For workshops, class visits, or more information feel free to contact us:
World's Largest Things, Inc.
Erika Nelson, creator and curator
PO Box 101
Lucas KS 67648


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