When i was in 7th grade I made a lamp from popsicle sticks. I loved that thing, but it doesn't hold a candle (or um, bulb) to these pieces of wall art made from the same material. They're big on style and small on price — what parent can resist that?
The works above come from artist Nathalie Chikhi who does amazing (and giant!!) things with popsicle sticks and other mediums. Her pieces are surely works of art in their own right and can provide a great deal of inspiration for someone not having the cash to purcahse a piece outright from the artist herself. You can check out more works from her website or even drop by and pick up a pillow cover for a little art on your bed or sofa.
That said, if those things aren't in your family budget, a box of popsicle sticks and a few other household items might be. If you're looking to take on a project like this you'll need 4 things: dye or paint, popsicle sticks, glue, and a backer board. We suggest making your backer board as light as possible and although a piece of MDF would work great, why not Styrofoam? Just run a pretty colored ribbon around the edge when you're done to create a finished look and that way your piece will be super light instead of worrying who will go to the ER when it falls off the wall.
You could paint each stick (we suggest painting the front and back of half a stick at a go and then rotating and painting the other once dry) or use a liquid dye (natural or not), even food coloring will work (as evidence by the color popsicle sticks are when you're done eating off one). It seems like it would be a fun activity that even if it doesn't have the beautiful pixelated pattern like the works above, would be fun for the whole family to create. You could even make an entire headboard out of them!
(Image: Nathalie Chickhi)