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July 4th Confetti Popper

Learn about self-taught Georgia artist Reuben Aaron Miller and make your own confetti popper to celebrate the 4th of July!

The youngest of eight children, R.A. Miller was born July 22, 1912 in Rabbittown, Georgia.

Miller dropped out of school at the age of 12 and went to work in a cotton mill. He also chopped wood for 50 cents a load. Later in life he served as an ordained minister for the Free Will Baptist Church. Miller retired at the age of 65, and started making the whirligigs that he made as a boy to pass the time.

Miller lived out most of his life on the same property where he was born. Starting in the 1970s through the 1990s, Miller populated the landscape with hundreds of whirligigs and tin artwork, which he sold on the side of the road. Miller experimented with a number of themes, but the better known pieces, which he produced in numerous variations, are animals, devils, and "Blow Oscar," which was based on his cousin, who would always blow his horn passionately whenever he would drive by Miller's property.

Miller's artwork gained notoriety, outside of his immediate community, when his whirligigs were featured in the twenty-minute video "Left of Reckoning", which was a collaboration of the Athens based rock group R.E.M. and painter and filmmaker James Herbert. Images of the "whirligigs" were also implanted into R.E.M.'s music video for the song "Pretty Persuasion."

One of Miller's neighbors recollected "When he first started, we all laughed at him and said 'Who wants that junk?' When he started making money, we all wanted to help." In addition to the recognition he received from R.E.M., Miller's artwork appeared on the December 2001 cover of TV Guide. Soon Miller began receiving visitors from around the country and overseas to view his artwork. His work is in several museum collections.

  1. Attach balloons to cardboard tubes.

  2. Decorate tubes

  3. Load with confetti

  4. Pull back balloon and FIRE!

Thank you to Margo Porter for testing and modeling our project!


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