Two paper sculptures. Left sculpture is red and shapes like a tree. The one behind it to it's right is blue and looks like a trident spearhead.

Transform used cardboard materials into futuristic sculptures!

We want to see your creations! Share on social media @hirshhorn with #HirshhornInsideOut.

Time: 30–45 minutes

Skill Level: Intermediate

Topic: 2D to 3D transformation

Two abstract sculptures. On the left spikey yellow and green like a cactus, on the right blue and green and shaped like leaves.

Giacomo Balla, Futurist Flower, (1918–1925/reconstructed 1968). Courtesy of the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC, The Joseph H. Hirshhorn Bequest, 1981.


Look at the two images. What do you see? Describe the colors and shapes. What do you think this is? What makes you say that?

These sculptures are by artist Giacomo Balla, and are called Futurist Flowers. These works were made nearly 100 years ago and were the artist’s vision of the future. Have you ever seen a flower like this? How are these sculptures different from flowers you’ve seen?


A black and white photo of the artist. He wears a suit and stands with his arm extended in a wave.

Giacomo Balla (1871–1958), Archive of the 900, Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art of Trento and Rovereto

The artist Giacomo Balla (1871–1958) was a Futurist. During the turn of the twentieth century, a group of artists wanted to move away from the past and incorporate aspects of fast-paced modern life and new technologies into their art. These artists were part of a movement called Futurism. What qualities make these flowers  seem like they’re from the future? Balla created these nearly one hundred years ago. We are now living in his future. If you were to create futurist flowers based on your experience living now, what might they look like? How might they look like they’re from the future?


Giacomo Balla used wood and paint to make his Futurist Flowers. For this project, you’ll use scraps of cardboard and paper.

Steps to create a paper sculpture.

  1. Gather materials. Hunt through your recyclables for some colorful boxes, mail, old birthday cards, and magazines. Sturdy materials will work best. You’ll also need tape and scissors.
  2. Draw a flower shape. Cut it out.
  3. Trace the first flower shape. Cut out a slightly larger second flower shape.
  4. Cut a notch. Cut through the middle of the bigger flower shape from the bottom almost to the top.
  5. Fit your pieces together. Use the slit to fit your two flower shapes together to create your sculpture. Want to make a more elaborate flower? Cut and add petals!
  6. Secure your sculpture. Add tape where your two large flower shapes meet.