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Thursday, May 1, 2014

Gestural Sculpture

It's all about movement

Fourth Grade Wire - Foil - Plaster Gestural Sculpture Art Lesson
Hula Hooping, Jumping Rope and a Ballerina
As usual, I started my lesson by asking my kids questions.  I told them we were going to make gestural sculptures and asked them what they thought we were going to make and what "gestural" means.  I had a photo example up of what we were going to do, so they were able to use context clues.  After a few guesses, someone pointed out that you use your hands to make gestures which lead me into my explanation of "gestural" meaning that it shows movement.  We also discussed "sculpture" but they knew that one right away!

We started off by making stick figure drawings (I normally don't allow my kiddos to draw stick figures but for this, I made an exception) showing some sort of movement.  I gave each student a piece of wire and after a quick demo, I asked that they try to recreate their stick figure with the wire.  Once we had wire people, I gave another short demo of how to wrap their wire person up in foil so that he/she became more three-dimensional.  I emphasized using large pieces of foil and crumpling them around the figure at various angles and overlapping pieces of foil to keep the body together. A lot of kids still wanted to use small pieces of foil, but they quickly found that small pieces fell off immediately and weren't adding any bulk to the body.  I let a few kids use some masking tape to keep their foil on/together, but most of the kids were able to squish the foil together to create a strong enough hold to get us to the next step.
Initial Steps for Making a Gestural Sculpture Art Lesson
First 3 Steps for Making a Gestural Sculpture
In our next step in the process, we added a base with some tape and then plaster.  I pre-cut a series of square and rectangular bases from foam core and cardboard (I just used scraps we had laying around the art room).  Each kid taped his/her tin foil sculpture so that at least one hand or foot was on the base (we used masking tape).

Plaster was new to my fourth graders and they weren't sure what it was, so we spent a little time where I showed them what it was and how it would work and the various stages we would put it through.  I used a cast for a broken arm/leg as an example of what this stuff was similar to.  This gave them a point of reference for what it looked like and how hard it could dry to be.  I order the product Plaster Craft by the roll (it's actually just long strips folded and stacked up in a 20lb box) and I pre-cut it into strips for the fourth graders.  I showed them its original state as a long strip ("Whoa!" was their response followed by lots of giggles and "oohs" and "ahhs") and how I had cut it up into smaller strips for them.  I showed them how the plaster was dried onto gauze and we would need to wet the chalky surface in order to use it to reshape and layer it and make strong sculptures.  I demonstrated the process of dipping the strips into water and then placing it onto my sculpture.  I emphasized to cover the foot/hand on the base first, using the plaster like the tape to stretch across the body and wrap around the base.  I asked them to start by covering the base and appendage first then work their way up the sculpture slowly.  It is important to use the strips in different directions for strength of the plaster structure and to rub the plaster to fill in all of the gauze holes so that painting them would be easier later. I let them feel a finished/dry sculpture so that they could understand how the plaster would dry (again, I referenced casts and their hard surface).
Plaster Step in Making Gestural Sculpture Art Lesson
Plaster Version of Gestural Sculpture
After our sculptures were dry and freestanding, I gave the students a choice.  They could paint their sculpture, or they could Modge Podge scraps of colored tissue paper to the surface.  I explained that they could make their sculpture realistic or decorative, that the important thing was just to cover the entire sculpture so that we didn't see the plaster anymore.  This gave us some added variety.  A few kids even chose to paint parts of their sculpture and then Modge Podge some tissue paper onto the rest!  The kids couldn't believe that these had started as wire stick figures!

Painting with Biggie Cakes Tempera Paint and using Modge Podge with cut tissue paper:



The sculptures came out great, and as usual, my only regret is that I didn't take more photos of them for the blog! The kids couldn't wait to take them home, so I ran out of time before too many had been photographed.  I had skydivers with parachutes, people doing kart wheels, various dancers and runners, the variety was tremendous!  But I didn't capture them all so here is what I can show off/brag about:
Fourth Grade Plaster Gestural Sculpture Art Lesson

Fourth Grade Plaster Gestural Sculpture Art Lesson
Ballerina and Dog Walker

Fourth Grade Plaster Gestural Sculpture Art Lesson
Skateboarders (the one on the left had some touch ups done later, but this still shows off his sculpture)

Fourth Grade Plaster Gestural Sculpture Art Lesson
Soccer Players--one in Modge Podge with tissue paper the other, painted

Fourth Grade Plaster Gestural Sculpture Art Lesson
Jump Ropers (I know the one on the left was a repeat, but I wanted to show the different approaches with Modge Podge and those results)