Tag: sculpture lesson

Art Lesson: Leather Mask Making

Leather Mask Example

As a current 3D I and 3D II teacher I have a ton of sculpture lessons up my sleeve. I like to change things up every year; I keep some projects consistent, while switching others out completely and slightly altering others. While student teaching I developed a Venetian mask lesson, inspired by my trip to Italy a year prior. I spent endless hours planning, researching, PowerPointing, and creating my example.

The original lesson had students create a mask form using plaster strips as a base and liquid plaster on top to create a smooth surface. For the most part the project was a success, the masks looked nice, the students had a good time, but I still felt limited. It was difficult to achieve fluid shapes or add large forms with a material as rigid as plaster. Despite a few doubts I taught the lesson two more times before taking a break.

When I started my new job I returned to the world of sculpture after a two year hiatus. As I planned for my first year as the 3D I and 3D II instructor, I found myself returning to the idea of mask making. While researching my mask resurgence I discovered leather mask making.

I never would have considered this project at my last school. On a shoe string budget materials that contain the word “leather” are automatically turned down do to cost. However, at my private school job with my private art school budget suddenly these expensive sounding words were appealing. I began research and quickly realized leather is an incredible material that can be twisted, curved, cut, and carved very easily. I made a few phone calls and found a leather provider.

After some research I was shocked to discover I could actually get the leather I needed at a reasonable price. Through a company called Brettun’s Village I could get a hide for a decent price. After calling the company I was told they would send me enough leather scraps for a small town to make masks for only $50. I was in, and the leather mask making began.

SUPPLIES

  • Paper for template
  • Scissors and Xacto to cut template and leather
  • Pins to hold template onto leather to trace
  • Sharpie or pencil to trace around template onto leather
  • Leather (3 oz veg tan leather)
  • Bucket/sink with water to soak mask
  • Towels to help dry mask
  • Hair dryer or heat gun to help dry mask as you mold it
  • Pliers for folding mask
  • Plastic and wooden ribs for folding leather (clay tools and bookmaking tools work well)
  • Acrylic paint and paintbrushes to paint mask
  • Elastic to use to hold mask onto face

HOW TO

STEP ONE

Introduce the students to Venice, give them some history and background as a base. Introduce the holiday, Carnivale, the traditional mask wearing holiday celebrated right before Mardi Gras. Show them examples of mask shapes and the meaning behind the shapes. Introduce the idea of symbolism, using colors, shapes, and symbols to represent something specific. Show them work by artist, John Flemming. His work pushes the boundaries of a typical mask. He uses leather to create extreme and interesting mask shapes.

STEP TWO

Have students do their own research on masks and symbols. Have them consider their favorite color, horoscope sign, birthstone, interests, and ways they can represent themselves through their mask.

STEP THREE

Have students do three full color sketches of different mask ideas. Help them select the best option.

STEP FOUR

Draw a life size version of the mask. Use an Xacto knife to cut out areas on the inside of the mask, cut the outside shape with scissors.

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STEP FIVE

Cut a piece of leather roughly to the size of the template. Pin the template to the leather using straight pins. Trace around the exterior shape and interior shapes with a pencil or sharpie. Cut the mask out of the leather using scissors and an Xacto knife.

STEP SIX

Soak the mask in water for approximately 10 minutes, or until the leather is saturated. Sandwich the leather between two towels to squeeze out excess water.

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STEP SEVEN

Have students place the mask on their face and begin forming the mask to their face. As the leather dries it begins to hold the shape. To help speed the drying process use a hair dryer or heat gun on the leather. Once the mask is roughly formed to their face have them add details. Use pliers to round out the edge of the mask or cut outs. Pinch the leather between the pliers to create raised areas. Use a bone folder or wooden rib to press into the leather to create lines and indentations. Use your hands and fingers to round out and roll over areas. The leather can be twisted, dried, and will hold it’s shape. Have the students continuously press the mask to their faces to make sure it maintains a good fit.

STEP EIGHT

Have the students cover the masks in bags if they aren’t finished molding the mask before the end of class. Areas can be re-wet and re-molded. Once their mask is molded, allow the mask to dry out completely.

STEP NINE

Paint the mask using acrylic paint. Encourage the students to use light shades to emphasize raised areas and dark shades to emphasize low areas of their design. The mask should be painted inside and out.

STEP TEN

Create holes on the edge of the mask for the elastic band to be strung through. Have the students write an artist statement about how their mask represents them. Have a class critique of the completed masks.

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This project is a great assignment to introduce history and symbolism into your class. The students also become very invested because of the personal nature of the lesson. If you love this lesson but don’t feel like doing the research check out my Leather Mask PowerPoint here! Check out the rubric I use here.

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Thanks for taking the time to check out on of my art lessons. I hope it helps you in your classroom. Help me spread the word about my lessons and art by sharing, tweeting, liking, or whichever social networking method you like best. Thanks for stopping by!

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Art Lesson: Fused Glass

Art-Lesson-Class-Glass-Fusing

I recently did my first glass fusing art lesson with my high school 3D II students, and they loved it! Only halfway through the first day of fusing almost everyone of my students had proclaimed this as their favorite project. It’s easy, fun, and almost fool proof. Even my students who quickly rushed through, and didn’t really consider the design had a good turn out. I am now starting this with my 3D I student and can’t wait to see what they produce! First off I aplogize for the terrible photographs. They were already set up for our annual art show when I realized I hadn’t gotten pictures yet. They will be replaced with better ones once the show comes down! In this post you will find the necessary supplies, approximate cost, and how to to do this with your own students!

Art-Lesson-Geometric-Fused-Glass-Plate-and-Necklace

SUPPLIES:

  • A digital kiln: They do make glass kilns but I converted one of my ceramic kilns to glass only. It is a programable Skutt kiln. By entering “ramp and hold” information I am able to achieve the same results as I would in a glass kiln!
  • Glass glove: Not necessary but a number of my students left class with sliced fingers, and the majority of them were using the gloves by the end of the project
  • Grozer: Glass scorer for organic shapes
  • Glass pliers: For breaking
  • Glass breaker: I found a cheap pink one that works great!
  • Cutting system: I bought a kit that included a waffle grid, Flying Beetle cutter, and a Beetle bit cutter
  • Kiln wash or spray: I use the spray and it is more expensive but you don’t have to set the wash before you fire on it, it’s very easy!
  • Kiln wash sheets: I place these thin sheets on top of my ceramic kiln shelves, each one lasts a few firings, and they cost $5 per sheet, so this adds up.
  • Adhesive, heat gun, bail bonds: This is if you want to do jewelry pieces and pendants
  • Molds: I have a variety of plate and bowl molds, my most popular are my 7″ sqaure bowl and jumping bean mini bowl, I plan to purchase a few of these in the future.
  • 96 COE glass: You must purchase glass with the same COE, 96 is the easiest to work with
  • 96 COE frit: Ground up glass into a sand like substance
  • Noodles and stringers: Long, thin pieces of glass

APPROXIMATE COST: $600.00

HOW TO:

For the assignment I began with a powerpoint explaining the process, what glass fusing is, how it’s done, and what our assignment is. I left the requirements very loose, each student had to create one plate or bowl, using a clear sheet of glass as a base, and add color pieces on top to create their design. I am glad it was open ended because it gave them the chance to push themselves to come up with an interesting design. Once I completed the powerpoint I demonstrated how to use the tools and went over a few tips when working with glass:

  • Glass wants to be 1/4 of an inch thick. If you fire one sheet of glass, without adding to it, it will shrink in order to get to a 1/4″ thick. If you stack two layer of glass it will stay about the same thickness, if you stack more than two it will spread to 1/4″ thick. If you put two layers in one area, and leave another area just one layer, you may end up with an uneven edge because of the shrinking and spreading. 
  • You can’t stack more than three sheets of glass together, I recommended they stick with just two layers.
  • When you layer glass together you run the risk of trapping air pockets
  • If you fire the sheet of clear under the color cut pieces the cut pieces may end up with more rounded edges. If you fire the clear glaze on top it prevents the cut pieces from spreading as much, and you get much cleaner lines

Once they understood the assignment and process they began working on their sketches. They were required to create at least three, and they had to be full color. I wanted them to consider the color and placement of the pieces before they began cutting to reduce the amount of wasted glass. After I approved their design they got to work.

They began by measuring the mold they wanted to use, and drawing it on a sheet of clear using sharpie. This was done at their seat to reduce the amount of traffic at the cutting station. Once they were ready to cut, they moved to the cutting station, made their cuts, breaks, then took it back to their seat. Once their base was cut we used hand sanitizer to remove the sharpie lines. I believe any alcohol based cleaning product will work, I just happened to have hand sanitizer, and it reduced the amount of germs floating around in the room.

After their base was cut they began cutting the color pieces and creating their designs. After each piece was cut they used a couple dots of Elmer’s glue to stick the color piece to the clear glass base. You only want to use enough to keep the glass from sliding when you place it in the kiln. If you use too much it will char in the firing and leave a gray mark. Rather than measuring the space the color piece was meant to go, and then marking the piece based on the ruler, I had my student set the color sheets on their mold and mark where the edges needed to hit. This helped reduce the number of wrong cuts and mis-measuring.

Once their design was complete we placed them in the kiln and full fused them. You can only put one shelf layer of glass in at a time, you can’t stack shelves like you can with ceramics, so this process can take longer if you have to do multiple firings. After they were full fused we placed them in the molds and slumped them!
Art Lesson- Fused Glass Sushi Plates

I have a Skutt electric ceramic kiln, and in order to fire glass I use the “ramp/hold” option on my kiln. The following are firing schedules I currently use, and have had success with. To program them into my kiln I press “ramp/hold” enter the number of segments, hit enter, and enter the rest of the data (temperature rise per hour, goal temp, hold time, for each segment). I then hit “review”, it runs through my program, and at the end I hit the “on” button, it’s very easy!

Tack fuse (glass will have a raised texture)

5 segments (or ramps)

Ramp 1: 400/HR, 1100 degrees, HOLD 5 minutes

Ramp 2: 75/HR, 1250 degrees, HOLD 5 minutes

Ramp 3: 9999 (as fast as possible), 1380 degrees, HOLD 10 minutes

Ramp 4: 9999, 950 degrees, HOLD 10 monutes

Ramp 5: 100 HR, 800 degrees, 0 HOLD

 

Full fuse (glass will be smooth)

5 segments (or ramps)

Ramp 1: 400/HR, 1100 degrees, HOLD 5 minutes

Ramp 2: 75/HR, 1250 degrees, HOLD 5 minutes

Ramp 3: 9999 (as fast as possible), 1450 degrees, HOLD 10 minutes

Ramp 4: 9999, 950 degrees, HOLD 10 monutes

Ramp 5: 100 HR, 800 degrees, 0 HOLD

 

Slump (Glass is just warm enough to take the form of your mold)

6 segments (or ramps)

Ramp 1: 150/HR, 300 degrees, HOLD 15 minutes

Ramp 2: 300/HR, 1100 degrees, HOLD 20 minutes

Ramp 3: 150/HR, 1250 degrees, HOLD 25 minutes

Ramp 4: 400, 950 degrees, HOLD 60 monutes

Ramp 5: 150 HR, 800 degrees, HOLD 10 minutes

Ramp 6: 300/HR, 100 degrees, 0 HOLD

I hope you enjoyed today’s post, and I hope you can use these tips if you are looking to try glass fusing in your classroom. Feel free to comment or email me with questions, concerns, or thoughts in general. Thanks for stopping by!

Art Lesson: Clay Whistles

Art Lesson-Clay Whistles

While I was in college one of the ceramics teachers did a clay whistle project with their class. When I heard about it I was bummed I wasn’t in his class, because it sounded like a fun project. However, after hearing all of the moaning and groaning from the students in his class about how difficult it was, I was thankful I wasn’t in his class, but the project still stuck with me.

As a teacher I try to choose projects that will challenge my students, but still allow them to be successful at varying levels of ability. This is as difficult as it sounds, which is why it took me three years to gain the courage to try this project in my sculpture class. It all came together at the beginning of the school year when I was trying to map out my projects for the year. I was talking with the middle school art teacher about project ideas, who is very knowledgeable about clay. I was trying to come up with an introduction to clay project that would include pinching, slab rolling, and coiling techniques all in one. After chatting for a minute he made a good point, they are all important enough skills to focus on individually, and not skim over with one quick project.

That solidified it for me. I would come up with a project specific to each technique, and what better pinch project than clay whistles? I took a deep breath and sat down with a pile of clay and began making my very first whistle, and it was hard. It took longer than I expected to get it to whistle, plus two failed versions in the trash. This youtube video ending up helping me get that first whistle working. The minute I heard the nice sweet sound my whistle produced, I was hooked! I started a second one just to make sure the first wasn’t a fluke. The second was quicker and even more successful. The whistle was clearer and deeper, it was perfect! Now it was time to introduce it to my students… I wasn’t sure how this was going to pan out.

Art Lesson-Green Abstract Clay Whistle

I always use PowerPoint to introduce my projects, and this assignment was no different. Since it was the first clay project I started by introducing the history of clay, crash course style. We talked about how far back clay sculpture dates, we looked at some of the earliest discovered clay pieces, and we moved into discussing the clay itself. We discussed wet clay vs. leather hard vs. bone dry vs. bisqued, etc. We talked about the kiln, how it worked, and the steps they would have to take to create a finished piece from wet clay to glazed. Typically I also include an artist exemplar, but I didn’t run across a clay whistle artists, so in lieu of an artist I included examples of whistles I found on the internet. If anyone knows of a clay whistle or pinch pot artist I can include in my presentation next semester please let me know! (The following images are all student examples from this past Fall semester, if you have questions about any of them please ask!)

Art Lesson-Train Clay Whistle

In the PowerPoint I also included images of the steps they would take to create their whistle, for this I relied heavily on this website which had great graphics of the steps(which also has other great lessons if you haven’t already discovered it!). I also printed the images out, made copies, and gave one to each student to reference while they made their whistle. In addition to going through the steps via photographs, I also did a demonstration after the PowerPoint. This may seem like a lot of repetition, but it helps the students to see it multiple ways before they try it out themselves.

Art Lesson-Penguin Clay Whistle

Once I was tired of talking I set the students out to create their whistles. They  all had to start with the basic round shape, but once they had a whistling whistle they could turn their shape into anything they wanted, as long as they included both additive and subtractive techniques (scoring and slipping something onto it and carving something out). They could do something more abstract, like my examples, or create an animal or object form, which a lot of the internet examples were. Whenever possible I like to have an opened assignment to allow my students to personalize their creation. They all have different tastes and interests, so why force them all turn their whistles into animals or patterns if they don’t want to?

Art Lesson-Fish Clay Whistle

I was shocked at how quickly some of my students got their whistles to work. Others struggled, but I encouraged them to help each other out, and more often than not the finished early kids got the other students’ whistles whistling. At some point in time every students’ whistle worked. Once they began adding to their designs, sometimes their whistles stopped working, and it took adjusting to get it back again. I did have a couple that didn’t whistle by the time it was turned in, which cost them a few points, but the majority of them worked. If you do this assignment remind your kids to continuously check their whistle.

Art Lesson-Duck Dynasty Clay Whistle

Once they were finished and dried out, we bisque fired them, then glazed them. I had everyone use underglazes for this first project, and we put a final coat of clear glaze on top to make them shiny. I chose underglaze to allow them to paint their creations with specific colors and patterns, that would stay put during the glaze firing process. When we were done we did a group critique, each student blew their whistle for the class, and we discussed the sound, design, and glazing techniques.

Art Lesson-Bird Clay Whistle

Overall the students were really invested in this project. I cannot even express the sense of accomplishment they displayed when their whistle started working. It cracked me up to watch all of their heads jerk up every time another one found it’s sound! I will definitely be repeating this for my 3DI class in the spring!

Art Lesson-Abstract Swirl Clay Whistle

I apologize for the slightly dark images and not having any in progress images! I plan on being more diligent about photographing my students at work next semester. I hope you enjoy the post regardless, and I hope it helps you plan future assignments! Please share the love by liking, tweeting, sharing, e-mailing, subscribing, and commenting!

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Art Lessons: The Tape Person Project

This is a project I have done twice, and it was very successful on both occasions. I love it because it introduces the students to installation art, without taking over too much space at school, and the students love it because they get a life size replica of themselves. The only issue I have faced with this project is the amount of tape required. It takes a TON of packaging tape. I would estimate 10-15 rolls of packaging tape per sculpture. After checking prices at office stores, and even dollar stores, I decided to order from an online company. In the end I went with, boxforless.com, and got the tape for about $0.60 per roll. I hope you have the finances to do this project, because it really is a great project for Sculpture I or II.

SUPPLIES

  • Packaging tape
  • Scissors
  • Students
  • Fishing wire (to hang)
  • Paper clips, or something more fancy to hang with

HOW TO

1. I always start new projects with a PowerPoint of an artist exemplar, student examples (if I have them), the steps, and my expectations/grading. I like to give the students all of the information up front, that way there is no miscommunication, although with high school students there is always some form of miscommunication. After I present the project I also add the step-by-step instructions to my board. My theory is by presenting the information to them verbally and visually, through my PowerPoint and on the board where they can reference it during class, there should be zero missteps. You would think this would be fool proof… but get ready… many repeated questions will still await you.

  • For this particular project I decided to present three artist exemplars. The reason I chose to do this is because installation art can be used for a number of reasons. For this assignment I focused on making a person aware of their space, Richard Serra was the exemplar for this, making a person aware of a particular part of their surroundings, Andy Goldsworthy was the exemplar for this, and making a statement about the location, Claes Oldenberg was used for this. I typically have a slide with basic background on the artist, followed by images. Whenever I introduce a new artist I have my students fill out a worksheet I hand out at the beginning of the year. All it is, is two columns with “artist” written above the left column and “artist info” written above the right column. They fill in general points to help them remember the artist on the sheet, and I grade it at the end of the year.
  • I followed the artist exemplars with student examples. Since I had done this project once before, I had a few images to share. I cannot stress enough the importance of photographing student work. It helps tremendously when introducing projects.
  • After all of the examples I explain the assignment and my expectations. I explained to the students they could choose any area of the school to display their sculpture but it had to some how relate to the space. Like the artist exemplars they could either focus on making someone aware of their space by the presence of the sculpture, bringing attention to a specific architectural element or part of the space, or they could make a statement about the space. The students were divided into groups of two, but if they wanted to team up with another group and have their sculptures interact that was an option.

2. In order to create a tape person you must use your own body to construct it, which is why the students need to work in groups. I tell my students to first consider what position their tape person will be in, that way they can arrange their body in that position to make building it easier.

  • The students work on building their person section by section. They wrap the packaging tape sticky side up on a part of their body, for example their forearm, and then they wrap the tape sticky side down. I recommend wrapping two layers sticky side up, two layers sticky side down, in order for the tape person to be thick enough.
  • Once the body part is wrapped they CAREFULLY use scissors to cut the tape off. I have had only one incident where a student was jabbed a little too hard and had a minor cut on his arm. I told him to tell Mom it happened in PE, and all was good.
  • Once they have all of the pieces created they have to tape them back together. First they need to tape the cut line, and then they need to tape the pieces to each other. In this step they must consider the position of the body. Is the elbow bent, is the person crouching, sitting, or standing. They can slightly overlap the sections as they tape them back together, but they must be careful not to lose the correction proportions.
  • I have mannequin heads in my classroom, which we use to create the head. Find something that will work for a head, you do not want your students wrapping their heads in tape.
  • Because you have to wrap sensitive areas, I also recommend dividing the students up based on gender. I allowed my girls to use my storage closet if they felt uncomfortable wrapping certain areas in front of the class.

3. Once the tape people are constructed it’s time to hang. I have had a lot of help from facility employees in the past, but this year I has a little more on my own. If you are hanging in high places, just be careful! Most schools have the tiles that can be moved, with the metal support bars in between. I tie fishing wire to the sculpture, and then to a bent paperclip. I then bend the paperclip around the metal support bar, and put the tiles back in place. This may sound ghetto, but it works like a charm. The tape people are relatively light and as long as you have at least two hanging points you shouldn’t have an issue.

  • If any students want their tape person standing make sure the legs are thick enough to hold the weight, put it in an out of the way spot, and prop it against a wall. I haven’t had a lot of luck with the standing people staying standing. Typically a weak point will buckle, and they turn into sitting people.

Here are examples from my Fall 2012 Sculpture I class! I hope you enjoy!

I don’t know how it happened, but someone I ended up with two groups doing upside down Spidermen in two different areas. Typically I would encourage one group to do something else, but they were both so excited about it, I let it go. The purpose of both sculptures were to bring attention to the high ceilings in the areas. When you are walking in a building you are in day, after day, you begin to forget about all of the interesting architectural details. I thought both did a great job! This sculpture was suspended from the overhang above the entrance. I love how it makes you look up and pay attention to the high ceilings.

Even though I had two Spidermen, at least they were in different areas and had slightly different positions. This sculpture was suspended from the railing. I loved how the head looked from the floor below, all you could see was a round orb until you walked up the stairs. This one is hung in the Middle School building, and of course they ate it up!

This sculpture is one of my favorites from this group. It was well made and they added the wings for an extra detail. I currently work at a private Christian school. This is my first year here, and I came from a title one public school. HUGE difference. As a Christian school we have a chapel, and this piece is placed in the chapel. The students wanted to bring focus to the purpose of the space, to worship. They placed the angel in a position to make it seem as if it is flying towards the altar, and the angel emphasizes the idea of a holy place. This group was very thoughtful with the location.

This sculpture was the only sitting sculpture. It was placed in the library, in a chair that is one of a group of four. The librarians LOVED having it, they cracked up when they saw three students studying in the chairs with the tape person occupying the fourth. The purpose of this sculpture was to highlight the purpose of the space, to read and learn.

This sculpture was placed at the end of the hallway. It was meant to make the viewer aware of their space, if you sit on the bench you may become uncomfortable with a tape person’s hand almost touching your head. I believe this one would’ve been more successful if it had hung lower, however in a high school you must consider keeping things out of reach.

The students, administrators, and faculty all love this project. It’s a great way to display art in your school, and get a lot of chatter going about your program. I found out about this lesson through one of my former coworkers, who found out about it through her former coworker, sometimes the best lessons are the ones that are stolen from others! Good luck, I hope you give it a try, and if you do send me some pictures!