Advent, Day 21: One Week Later, Let It Shine

Dear readers,
 The Maine for an adventure a day, each day of this advent season — big or small, by land or sea, with friends or solo, in image or word, exuberant or contemplative, real or conceptual. We live in a state of wonder, its wide open spaces anticipating our
hope and joy.

Inspired by the work of Maine poet/artist/illustrator/storyteller Ashley Bryan, Marcie Bronstein, author of the blog In This Playground recently created a luminary project for her ArtLab StoryLab at the Center for Maine Contemporary Art. After a tough week of national news, we think it’s a great time to repost Marcie’s project and to look toward the light at this, the darkest time of the year.

Let It Shine

It’s obviously the time of the year to light candles, and Ashley Bryan’s silhouette-based illustrations for African spirituals, so alive and compelling, translate seamlessly onto lighted glass.

This Little Light

Below is the prototype I made, after testing out many approaches to creating a silhouetted collage onto glass. Read on to see how it was done, and to understand why this project is a huge crowd pleaser, with the childrens’ wide-open-excited-eyes and big oohs and ahs filling up the room.


We began as we have for this series of StoryLab workshops with the story, read by librarian/author Liza Walsh.

Story time

Then the children began drawing and cutting out black shapes for their luminary.


One-by-one, they were called up to the front of the room, where I had set up an electric grill (!), with a bowl of peeled crayons.

Crayon on the grill!


They drew on the warm grill, which, as you can imagine, is a mesmerizing thing to do. (Grill from Goodwill, $5. It should, quite possibly, be a staple for every art room.)

Grill work

The children got lost in the sensory thrill of feeling and watching the crayon melt into pools of color. Some, like Daphne (above), really tried to design with the liquid wax.


And now comes the moment of oohs and ahhs. We carefully set a piece of thin white paper onto the melted crayon to make a monoprint.


 and then mount the completed strip onto the glass (with Mod Podge as well).


You can imagine how the children (and their parents) felt when we placed votives in the luminaries, lit the candles, and turned out the lights.