Sunday, November 26, 2017

Sculpture from scrap cardboard!

Just before Thanksgiving, I returned from my NY state art teachers annual convention, a whirlwind weekend of learning, creating, presenting, engaging, and more.  While there, I presented two workshops; I'm going to tell you about one of them in this post, and I'll tell you more about the convention and the other workshop in another post.  The workshop I'm telling you about today was called From Scraps to 3-D Success, and I co-presented with a friend (pictured below). 
We each presented one project made mostly with recycled materials; my project was an abstract sculpture made entirely from cardboard and Elmer's Glue-All.  The photo at the top of this post, and the one directly below, are examples of these cardboard sculptures, made by participants during the workshop.
We began with 4"x 6" rectangles of cardboard, cut from shipping cartons. 
 I also provided a big bagful of random shapes of cardboard cut from shipping cartons.  All cutting was done on an old paper cutter to get straight edges. It works great, and is fast and easy to cut a lot.
 Participants were each given a Popsicle stick, to be used as a 'glue paintbrush', and little cups of Elmer's Glue-All to share with a neighbor.  However, when I do this project with students, I do NOT put the glue into cups; the students actually pour a little puddle of glue directly from the bottle onto their cardboard base, near to the corner.  This prevents them from using too much glue.  Using too much glue does not make the structures hold together better!  In fact, too much glue means it takes longer to set and therefore the sculptures are more difficult to construct.
The small cardboard pieces have at least one cut edge that has zigzaggy corrugation, and another edge where the cardboard is more like two parallel lines.  The zigzag edges will hold much better and I recommend using those edges for gluing/attaching when possible.  We scoop up a little glue with our pop sticks, paint it on the edge we plan to glue, and hold it in place where desired, counting AT LEAST to 10.  For more challenging structures, count higher.  While the glue does not dry totally in 10 seconds, this allows it to set enough for you to let go.  Usually I would have students glue a base structure in one class, and then add to the construction in their subsequent class. In this workshop, I had participants set their sculptures aside to work to the project offered by my co-presenter, and then come back to the cardboard sculpture to add more pieces. 
 Hold and count to 10!!
 It's possible to hold some crazily balanced pieces if you are patient!
 Note: the glue MUST be Elmer's Glue-All, which is very strong.  If you use Elmer's School Glue, the sculptures will collapse.  Don't bother to try; it will be a waste of time and your students will get frustrated when their work begins collapsing.
Some workshop participants had time to paint their little sculptures. One workshop participant said she was going to have her students paint large pieces of the cardboard in a 'painted paper' type of activity, BEFORE she cuts the cardboard for this project.  It could work great, if the cardboard doesn't warp too much.  I look forward to seeing her results.  Below, a participant painted hers a solid color.  Behind it is a piece of painted wood for the project that was presented by my co-presenter. 
And one gentleman got really inventive, cutting the shapes into curves, while leaving straight sides for gluing.  Ironically, this same guy attended a papier-mache workshop I taught years ago, and totally went in his own direction then, too!  I even mentioned him in a blog post about the workshop, HERE.
I've done this project many times over the years with my first graders.  We discuss what a sculpture is, and what it means to be abstract or non-objective.  Sometimes their sculptures turn out to look like castles or robots or airplanes etc and that is fine too!  We discuss that a person who makes a sculpture is a sculptor, and that they are all sculptors while doing this project! We look at photos of work by various artists, in particular Calder, but there are many others that can directly relate to this project, depending especially on how you intend to paint the finished products.

In the blog posts from 2011 and 2012 that you'll find HERE and HERE, you can see some examples of my first graders' cardboard sculptural creations using this process.  Here's a first grader working on his sculpture, paying attention to balance, and another first grade piece.
If you're looking for an easy, low-cost project that will work at almost any grade level, give this one a try!  Sculpture with kids is really fun! 

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