New sculpture construction curricula ~ ARTistic Pursuits #Review
Fair Warning: You’re Entering Fangirl/Boy Zone.
Discovering that not only was there a new review opportunity around the corner, it included two BRAND NEW titles… let’s just say, that didn’t make our day. It made our month. The greatest challenge was deciding which sculpture book we wanted more: Construct or Model. We chose Sculpture Technique: Construct.
And then we waited. In a not-so-patient manner.
Thankfully, we had a preview of the supply list, so we could easily figure out what materials we already had on hand, and what we’d need to order. (And we had plenty of time to save up scrap paper – but more on that in a moment.)
There are four different units in Construct, and these include:
- Creating Form in Papermaking – Handmade paper; low-relief sculptures (sort of a slightly raised image); ways to form the paper, includes flower and leaf templates; creating 3-D people out of wire and wet paper; wrapping wet paper around wire
- Creating Planes in Cardboard – Arranging layers of cardboard in a 2-D setting; making 3-D shapes out of flat cardboard; crafting an architectural model (buildings, trees, etc)
- Creating Motion with Papier-Mache – Making a papier-mache creature, which includes building armature (the underlying support and form), applying the papier-mache, painting the completed sculpture, and additional “advanced” tips. The second lesson continues with practice in supporting and balancing a second papier-mache sculpture.
- Creating Volume with Wire – “2-D” wire sculpture with added volume, expanding the wire sculpture in additional directions, creating with wire in sections to emphasize parts of the sculpture
While projects within a unit built upon the previous project, and should be completed in order, there is no need to do the units themselves in any particular order. We did, however, start with unit 1, Papermaking, not because it was numero uno, but because it was the one everyone wanted to get their hands onto (into?) first. Plus, my younger two, C & C, have been considering craft projects that they could create and sell at the local Saturday market kids’ table, and handmade paper is on the top of their list. (They made some paper ball “seed bombs” at a local day camp last year, and we’ve been talking about doing something similar ever since.)
And We Start
When the book arrived, the first thing we did – as we always do with ARTistic Pursuits books – was take it apart. They’re softcover comb-bound, and we just don’t have good luck with things that are comb-bound, so I always remove the comb, place the pages into sheet protectors, and place them in a sturdy view binder. (The “view” part is so I can put the covers on the front and back.)
Just a quick side note – I mention we always do this with ARTistic Pursuits books, but even if you don’t mind comb-binding, I highly recommend that you stash the pages in plastic this time around… because paper-making is WET. We’ve had zero water damage to the pages so far, and the only reason that’s true is because they went into plastic immediately. (It’s priced at $47.95, and while well worth those dollars, please, protect your investment.)
Only then did I hand it over to my circling (vulture-like) kids for drooling, I mean previewing, time. I eventually retrieved it and was able to take a look myself. Wow, is there a lot of material tucked into this 80+ page book.
Designed to be appropriate for ages 11-18, this is one art study that, I guarantee you, if you have younger students, they’re going to want to be in the middle of – even if they’re much, much, MUCH younger than 11.
(Messy fun + older siblings = High interest)
Whether or not you let little ones help – that’s up to you – I recommend gathering a little bit of extra supplies, because, chances are, unless the kids are working totally independently, you’re going to end up joining in.
Don’t get me wrong – the instructions I’ve used (or read) are pretty consistently easy-to-understand, with lots of pictures that help to show the intent – but when there is that much “stuff” going on, it’s hard not to join in! (And if it involves your blender, lots and lots of water, and what eventually ends up seeming like every single sponge, towel, and flat surface in the house… you’re going to be supervising a least a little. Trust me on this.)
How Do You Use This Book?!?
There’s a full-page explanation of how this curricula works available for your perusal. My short, simple summary would be this:
The first two pages of a unit describe what element of sculpture that your student will be learning about. It’s followed by a description of the medium that will be used in the unit, plus tools and/or equipment needed, safety considerations, and the basic instructions for the techniques that will be used.
Then, there will be 2-4 lessons. Each has a description of the lesson’s purpose, supply list, things to think about before starting, initial set-up, and then detailed instructions and images for completing the project. Each unit closes with an evaluation which can be usually in whatever manner you deem appropriate, and includes questions that tie that unit into the elements of sculpture, art and craft as a concept (the mental “work”), and craftsmanship (the physical “doing”).
That’s how it works. Now, how do you schedule it?
That, my dear friend, is the challenge. My advice? Be flexible and keep an open mind. Artistic Pursuits curricula are often used as either semester or year-length texts, and the simplest solution would be to divide the units somewhat equally for the time-span you desire, leaving a bit of leeway for overruns, and call it good. That’d be my recommendation, to fit to a somewhat loose schedule. Keep in mind that your students may be so infatuated with one activity that they get “stuck”, wanting to repeat it over and over and over again. (Did I mention how many zillion pieces of handmade paper we have now?) Prepare yourself mentally for this possibility, plan extra time to allow for it, and just go with it. Yes, they *are* learning – they’re refining their techniques.
Also, drying time IS definitely going to slow the pace. This is not something that can be crammed in all at once; if you only have one day per week, it’s going to stretch it out quite significantly, since many tasks may need just a day or two to dry. Two or three shorter sessions, minimum, per week, would be far more doable than one long session a week. If at all possible, have somewhere that the project can stay at least partially “set up” or safely stored.
My Only Complaint?
For goodness’ sakes, AP, did you *have* to go and do this to your loyal homeschool parents? We’re never getting our kitchens… or tables… or any other flat surface in our homes cleared off ever again!
All kidding aside… Sculpture Technique: Construct is a instant homeschool classic, fresh off the production line and ready to mess up your kitchen. Read more about it, its partner-in-crime Sculpture Technique: Model, and the following products:
- The Way They See It (Preschool)
- Early Elementary K-3, Book 1: Introduction to the Visual Arts
- Early Elementary K-3, Book 2: Stories of Artists and Their Art
- Early Elementary K-3, Book 3: Modern Painting and Sculpture
- Elementary 4-5, Book 1: The Elements of Art and Composition
- Elementary 4-5, Book 2: Color and Composition
for younger grades by clicking the link below for more ARTistic Pursuits reviews. (If, on the other hand, you want to see reviews of the regular middle and high school art curricula, you’ll have to check out these older reviews – the focus for older students, this time around, was totally on Sculpture.)