Friday, March 16, 2018

Paper Sculpture

I'm excited to introduce you to another Guest Blogger on MiniMatisse.  Matt Cockrell is an active participant in the Art Education Twitter community. I have been impressed with his conversation during #k12ArtChat on Thursday night as well as his shares on social media. Matt Cockrell, or Mr. C`s Art Class (@MattCockrellArt) as he is known on Twitter is an Art Teacher at Martha Layne Collins High School, in Shelbyville, Kentucky.

Paper Sculpture

When I was in high school, many many moons ago (in the 90`s, shhhhh…. ha!), in my Art Classes, we didn`t do a whole lot of `upper advanced` high school projects. We did the same things, from Art 1 all the way thru Art 4. Our `projects` consisted mostly of watercolor sunsets, writing in old English with a marker, tracing, drawing the `rubber band man` to make the human figure, and making clay coil pots. Our high school art teacher didn`t allow us to `think outside the box` either. We basically did the basic `run of the mill` art, so basic that our creativity wasn`t challenged to the extent that it could have been. I mean, just how creative and engaged can someone in high school be by tracing?!
So when I became an Art Teacher, in my mid-twenties (another time for another story, and my 1st career), I vowed to myself that I wouldn`t be like my high school art teacher, that I`d not only `step outside of the box` but that I`d `create another box and another and another`. Creativity to create a lesson/ project that pushed my thinking was what I was going to strive for each and every day. By pushing myself to create `real world relevant` and `just plain cool` projects, I would, in turn, test the limits of my students thinking, and their creative process, all at the same time.
Anyway, I better get up and going with this `project/ lesson` because I could go on and on, Trust me, my students know!
Scouring both google images and youtube, for a unique sculpture opportunity, with a unique everyday, ordinary material, I came across sculpture made out of paper, by Dutch artist Peter Callesen. Mr. Callesen creates his sculpture using a single sheet of paper. I put the `youtube` video on, which is a Euromaxx Art production. (For those of you that do not know, Euromaxx Art has 40+ videos about various working artists, all around Europe) At the end of this 5-minute video, I have a short discussion about process, about how Mr. Callesen uses his materials, to sculpt.
Students then look up Mr. Callesen`s website, and scroll thru his endless supply of paper sculpture, getting inspired. Students then must choose one of his paper sculptures and blend it together with their own ideas, kinda like a half/ half creation. Half his, half theirs. They must employ the same methods that Mr. Callesen does, experimenting with the process and materials until they have it. Experimentation is the key.
Students have to do two (2) paper sculptures & have Three (3) weeks to create their projects.
While this is a choice-based project, students still have to make their paper sculpture in the same ways as Mr. Callesen.
Students also MUST only use ONE SHEET OF PAPER! This is what gets their creativity flowing! Now, they can have a backing with construction paper and even use colored construction paper within their sculpture, but, their ONE MAIN PIECE OF PAPER must be over 90% of their sculpture. There are exceptions, but, they are discussed with me, Mr. C, beforehand. Any built object, such as a hummingbird or birdhouse, MUST be built by using ONLY the Cut-out Sections of their main white drawing paper.
With over (3) Three Weeks to create these sculptures, my students will go thru the `ups and downs` of creativity. They will be productive most days, but then there are `those days`. That`s when having that positive relationship with them comes in handy.
I also play music, fairly loud, to help students focus and to inspire them while they are creating. Music helps students to zone everything else out and concentrate on the task at hand

  1. You can use any type of paper, but I find that Jack Richeson, 90 lb. drawing paper works the best for me.(While ordering from school specialty (sax arts) might be challenging at times, especially with some product not showing up when it`s clearly listed on the packing list, or, it gets back-ordered, it IS a cheaper alternative ordering source to go through)
  2. Scissors
  3. Blending Stumps
  4. Dental Sculpting Tools (paper clips work fine too)
  5. Elmers Glue (not washable, as it will not have the `hold` that is needed)
  6. Non-latex gloves (for those students who do not want glue on their fingers)
  7. Colored construction paper
  8. Photo-copy box lids
  9. A portable fan (for drying)
  10. Drawing pencils
  11. A shelf dedicated solely to the placement of projects/ materials while student work on these.
  12. Finally, having plenty of Patience! This will take time

This project (I don`t use the term `unit` in my classroom because that's a word my students hear all the time in their regular classes. In the Art Studio, we do projects!), is a mix between learn-by-watching, learn-by-experimenting/ doing and choice based.
Students use these Elements of Art within their sculptures: Line, Shape, and Form.
The cut-out sections also allow students to play around with `positive and negative space` which also turns those cut-out sections into the `shadow`, creating an interesting, created look of `shadow and light`!
Students learn that anybody can make art if they put forth their creative effort. Students also learn how a professional artist, from northern Europe, makes a living by sculpting with paper. In our school, we use Standards Based Grading. When students near the end of their project (and I only collect them on the due date not before), I not only push their creative limits by giving them advice on how to make their projects better but the student and I discuss ways for them to go `above and beyond` any expectations.
Matt has so many great ideas and he is totally open to answering questions via Twitter. Be sure to find and follow Matt on Twitter Mr. C's Art Class, @MattCockrellArt.

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