Friday, May 13, 2016

Sculpture Technique: Construct Review

My oldest child has never been a big arts & crafts guy. Coloring, painting, and drawing are fine for a few minutes, but then he's off doing something else while the other kids are still crafting away. He does, however, thrive on constructing, building, assembling. (That's why LEGO is such a huge deal in out house.) When I saw that ARTistic Pursuits Inc. has published a book that will teach him certain skills through means that appeal to him, I was excited. The Sculpture Technique Construct book combines art and his love of constructing. 

Sculpture Technique Construct is the book you need when you get the urge to make something with your hands. It will take you step-by-step through the processes of sculpture building, while giving you the confidence to make it uniquely yours. The book focuses on 4 types of sculptures.

Unit 1: Creating Form in Papermaking
Unit 2: Creating Planes in Cardboard
Unit 3: Creating Motion with Papier-mậché
Unit 4: Creating Volume with Wire

I looked through projects with my son, discussed them a little, and let him decide where he wanted to start. It came as no surprise to me that chose the messiest option: papier-mậché. 

The front of the book lists all the arts supplies that are used for each project and are broken down by unit.

Unit 3: Creating Motion with Papier-mậché art supplies:
  • wheat paste
  • gesso
  • #8 round brush
  •  1 - 1 1/2 inch bristle brush
  • acrylic paint set
  • plastic paint pallet
  • masking tape
There are other items needed, as well, like scissors, newspaper, foil, various containers, and anything else you wish to use to construct your sculpture.

We didn't have the exact supplies that the book lists, but since both art and homeschooling can be adaptable to your needs, we used what we already owned. Instead of wheat paste, acrylics, and masking tape, we used white flour, tempera, and duct tape.   

The directions take you through the entire process, from planning out your design to the completed creation.

  • Materials, Properties of  Papier-mậché
  • Assembling a Papier-mậché Creature with Motion
  • Papier-mậché Construction and Balance
  • Evaluation
It covers tools and equipment, safety, instructions, static and dynamic movement, techniques, and more. It even has a section on advanced methods where it discusses how to make repairs and add texture.

The first project is making a creature in motion. My son came up many ideas before he settled on a snake feeding. Snakes, yep, another thing he likes. 

He taped empty toilet paper tubes together in a curved fashion to form the snake. He used tin foil at the end to shape the tail. For the snake's meal, he cut and formed another tube into a rat-like shape. The head was to be inside the snake's mouth, with the back portion of the body and tail hanging out, so the sculpture would capture it in mid-feed. Boys.

When it came time to add the papier-mậché, he discovered that his baby brother had gotten a hold of his "rat" and dismantled and crushed it before his snake could enjoy his dinner. Plan #2 became creating the snake as he was striking his prey, instead of eating it.

This was his first experience using papier-mậché. I hadn't done it myself since I was about his age. Since he's 10, he could do everything on his own. It took my showing him how much paste he needed, how to scrape off the excess, and how to apply the strips of newspaper a couple times, but he did everything himself. His technique was sloppy at first, but after a few tries, he proclaimed, "This is easy!"

He like just swirling his hands through the paste and enjoyed the activity like sensory play. His happiness caught the attention of the other kids. I soon had everyone crowded around the table wanting to "play."

When he finished, he told me, "It was too fun to not do again, so I'm going to have to do it again." And he did. He used his new-found papier-mậché techniques to make a piñata. He filled it with candy that we had in the cupboard and hung it in a tree. He and the other kids had fun taking turns hitting it with a bat. They especially liked when the piñata broke open, sending the candy flying through the air.

After the papier-mậché snake was completely dry a couple days later, he painted it. We found a picture of a rattlesnake for him to reference. His mixed his colors and painted the entire thing in his main color. Then he added accents and pops of color to make it appear more realistic.

Once the paint was dry, he applied the fangs by cutting paper clips, shaping them, and hot-gluing them in the snake's open mouth.

My son enjoyed this project from beginning to end. The book is written so that he could understand it by himself since it thoroughly explains the steps of the processes at his level. He's already looking forward to his next creation.

While he may never be a craft-loving boy, I appreciate this book and the skills he can learn from it. These hands-on projects are sure to bring fun and learning into our days.

ARTistic Pursuits offs many books to involve children in the creative process of art and help them develop skills. They also teach art history, art appreciation, techniques and tools for drawing, painting, and sculpting. The full-color step-by-step art lessons are sure to appeal to the students.

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If you'd like to read more reviews of this book or are interested in one of the others, please head to the Schoolhouse Reiew Crew blog.

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