October 2011 home page

Plastique Chihuly Charms
Mary Freistedt | Bellaire Street
Chihuly chandelier in glass, Boston Museum of Fine Arts.
Photo Art Olson
  “Chihuly” chandelier in plastic,
Del Mar Post Office.
Photo Art Olson


Many people travel thousands of miles to see an exhibit of Dale Chihuly’s incredible blown glass art. But Del Mar was recently lucky to have its very own “Plastique Chihuly” installation at the Del Mar Post Office. For five weeks in August and September, people thrilled at the sight of brightly painted plastic bottles in imaginative shapes hanging from the trees, standing like soldiers, or dancing with glee. For five weeks it was the happiest place in town.

What is amazing is that this environmental art installation was done by all the students at Del Mar Hills Academy with the help of two incredible mothers, Becky Deller and Mara Bickett, who are also members of the Del Mar Garden Club. Chat with these two energetic women for a while and it’s easy to see how this could happen.
Becky and Mara, inspired always to repurpose trash, got the idea that the students could create a Chihuly look with recycled plastic bottles. First the students learned about Dale Chihuly and studied his works. Then they collected plastic bottles, thousands of them. The bottles were cleaned, delabeled, and then painted. Sixth graders got to be the project managers. Each captain chose a Chihuly inspiration and then got to work figuring out how the piece would be put together. Rebar, chicken wire, and tomato cages provided some of the structures for the bottles. The project went on for six weeks and was finally displayed at Seagrove Park for one glorious day in the spring of 2011.

This is actually the third environmental art installation that the children at Del Mar Hills Academy have done. “Fish for Thought,” installed in spring 2009, comprised one mile of fish (made from trash, of course) on recycled sticks along the beach in Del Mar.
In 2010, “Flower Power,” brightly colored flowers made from recycled wood and trash, adorned Powerhouse Park.

What a way to teach teamwork, serving the community, and keeping our oceans free of plastic and other trash. But this is not the end of the story. Becky Deller and Mara Bickett have also produced a documentary called “Sea Change,” which focuses on the Texas-size gyre of plastic in the Pacific Ocean. They worked with Miriam Goldstein of the Scripps Institute of Oceanography to produce this film, which they call their “Love Story to Del Mar.”


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