Soap and toothpick sculptures

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We made soap and toothpick sculptures a while back, after falling in love with Make and Play’s soap sculptures. These are similar to the marshmallow and toothpick sculptures we’ve enjoyed making, but non-edible which may be key for you if your kids just eat all the marshmallows (several people told me thats what happened when they tried it!).

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As Vera from Make and Play suggested, I bought a few different colors of transparent (glycerine) soap and cut them into small squares, rectangles, and triangles.

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Like so…

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Then we used toothpicks to connect soap pieces and build little sculptures. The glycerine soap is soft enough that you can stick toothpicks in fairly easily, but it was just hard enough or maybe just a tad crumbly enough that it got a little frustrating for Maia at times. I don’t know that I’d try this with kids younger than her. Or maybe it was just my soap. I dunno.

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But the possibilities with this are great!

I don’t seem to encourage sculpture nearly as much as painting and drawing and would love to branch out. Do you have any ideas or favorite sculpural materials to share?

More Toothpick Sculptures

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  1. Barbara Zaborowski says

    Pool noodles! They don’t crumble like styrofoam, they come in great colors, They’re cheap(dollar store)and they can be cut by kids with a plastic knife! What’s not to like??!! At school, we offer them (some cut into pieces and some waiting to be cut) with toothpicks. The sculptures can be taken apart and done over and over. Then in the spring we switch and let the kids glue the pieces into sculptures that can go home.

  2. says

    My daughter loves sculpting with Bendaroos.I don’t buy the kits with “instructions” for things to make – just the refill packs and set her loose. The clever ways she uses them astound me.

  3. says

    Henry loves wood and glue sculpture making (and then painting). We add whatever is around, bottle caps, corks, etc. Also, papier mache, huge mess but always fun. Balloon or bowl or wadded paper as a base. I’ve also wanted to have them try using real hammer and nails (which I remember doing in preschool!) but we just haven’t gotten to it yet. Happy sculpting!

  4. says

    I think it was the soap you used… The kind that we used was very soft and did not frustrate the kids… it was really very easy to work with it and stick the toothpicks in.
    Did you try making sculptures with vegetables?

  5. says

    I’m also envisioning great variety in these sculptures by adding pipe cleaners or other malleable wire for curvy connections and moveable embellishments! You could even do Calder-like mobiles using the soap with wire, and stringing colorful beads on them as well. Oooh, now I want to try this! There’s a great type of wire out there that is super easy to sclupt with but I always forget what it is called (found at hardware store). I’ll try to find out and let you know what it is. It’s awesome for wire sculpture for kids and adults!

  6. says

    My boys like to sculpt BIG, so we use newspaper rolled into tubes and lots of colors of masking tape. Depending on how you roll them, the “logs” can be flexible or sturdy. My little one (3 and a half) still has trouble tearing the tape, so I will tear off strips and hang them from the edge of the table so he can grab them whenever he’s ready.

  7. says

    We do a lot of recycled art sculptures – just dig in the recycling and build away. A box of wood from GrandDad is fodder for sculptures as well. In addition the kids like to use wikki stix, popsicle sticks, paper and modeling clay. I also bought 25 lbs of clay from our local art supply store. Part of it was used in a ceramics class; the other is used for free form sculpting. Bars of soap and a knife are good for whittling.

  8. s.byrne says

    Papier-mache, of course!!!! We make animals, using paper towel rolls, boxes, and a whole lot of packing tape. Then, cover it with papier-mache (newspapers dipped in glue/water). Then we paint them when they are dry.It is wonderfully messy.

  9. Adrienne says

    They are like wikki sticks but a lot more affordable. You can order them online or even pick them up at Target, I think you can get a package of 500 for $20. We got ours 2 years ago and play with them at least once a week- LOVE THEM!

  10. Lisa says

    I just saw Bendaroos on Amazon.com at 500 for $4.97!! I’m going to HAVE to get some!!

  11. says

    Cornstarch packing peanuts are great. Swipe the ends against a damp sponge (but not too wet or they’ll dissolve *very* fast) and push them together and they’ll stick as they dry. Yogurt lids make for decent statuary bases, as do squares of corrugated cardboard.

  12. Marie says

    great idea. we are making glycerin soap with bugs and jewels and sprinkles in them for summer camp this week… i will put out some toothpicks while we are chopping up the glycerin and see what the children come up with. thanks for the inspiration.

  13. says

    we dig in the recycling and pull out the glue gun. Usually we end up with something fantastic! My girl is only 3 but she’s learned that glue guns are hot and to be careful or she will burn herself- but the way it opens up the sculpture possibilities is definitely worth the risk to her I think.

  14. says

    This type of toothpick sculpture is great with modeling wax – it is great for kids hand muscles to warm up the wax by squooshing, and it is easy for them to adjust the size of the pieces to connect, too.
    I’ve had luck with celluclay – preschoolers enjoy squishing it and playing with different textures. You can make sculptures with it, or spread it over an armature (which could be anything – paper towels taped together, cardboard tubes, etc.) or over flat cardboard to make texture panels.
    Another project I have had good luck with is Louise Nevelson-style assemblages – you can just gather lots of odds and ends, and the kids can glue them to a panel or inside a box and then paint them.