Art-Making Activity: Paper Sculpture Inspired by Ida Kohlmeyer

A sculpture by Ida Kohlmeyer in the Besthoff Sculpture Garden is made of abstract painted aluminum shapes.

Ida Kohlmeyer, Rebus 3D-89-3, 1989. Painted aluminum. Gift of the Sydney and Walda Besthoff Foundation. ©️ Ida Kohlmeyer.

New Orleans-born artist Ida Kohlmeyer began her life as an artist at age 37 when she took her first painting class. She created a unique pictorial language with playful combinations of line, color, and shape. Working in a variety of media including paint and pastels, Kohlmeyer also translated her personal glyphs into stacked aluminum sculptures, often titled Rebus. A rebus is a riddle. What do you make of this one?



  • White paper (2–3 sheets)
  • Markers
  • Scissors
  • Liquid glue (or hot glue)
  • Pencil
  • Clear tape
  • Cardboard or heavy paper for the base

1 – Use markers and/or crayons to color one side of your paper with various shapes, lines, and other designs. Fill the entire page.

2 – Cut your paper into strips in a variety of sizes—wide and narrow, short and long.
3 – Wrap the paper strips, design side up, onto a pencil until the paper is fully rolled. Secure the end with a piece of tape. Slide the paper off the pencil. This will create a skinny tube of paper. Repeat this step with each of your paper strips.
4 – Create a base for your sculpture by gluing 3–5 of the paper rolls in a rectangle or triangle shape onto a piece of cardboard or heavy paper.



5 – Glue the additional rolls in a variety of directions and levels. As you build and assemble your pieces into a sculpture, use tape to secure and reinforce ends and meeting points. Allow time to dry. (Hot glue is an option for quicker drying time.)

Once you’ve finished, browse more family-friendly art-making activities.


NOMA is committed to uniting, inspiring, and engaging diverse communities and cultures through the arts — now more than ever. Your gift will make a direct and immediate impact as NOMA welcomes our community back to the museum and sculpture garden, plans new exhibitions, and develops virtual and at-home arts education resources for school partners.