Saturday, April 13, 2013

Sculpture Class

A few months ago at a library board meeting we were discussing ideas for what we were going to do for an upcoming Arts Council grant that we were applying for. No one really seemed to have any brilliant ideas, so we started to put the grant on the back burner until one of the board members suggested having me teach some art classes. She knew that I had taught the high school art class for the local home school group a few years ago; each lesson had been based on a famous artist, and included a biography of that person and each piece the students created was based on that artist's style. She thought maybe we could do something similar to those lessons for the grant, and before I knew it, the librarian and I were working on a budget for the class, and then we were approved. There are also other things the library will be doing with the grant (like having another puppet theater show this summer, yay!), but I think this was the big item for the grant.

For today, we had an adult sculpture class. I'm not an expert in the history of sculpture, who's important, or anything really dealing with sculpture. I only took one sculpting class in college, so I was not confident about this class whatsoever. I spent the whole week researching time periods, sculptors, techniques, and pouring over my art history books. I was a nervous wreck going into the library today.

To add to my frustration, I couldn't find the right kind of wire for our sculptures anywhere this morning before the class started. Wal-Mart didn't have any, and the hardware store across the street didn't have what I needed. I felt bad, I had three people helping me at the store, but when the manager gave me a bit of attitude, I left. I had some wire at home I could use, but wasn't sure if it was going to be enough for the 8 people who had signed up for the class. We had bought the wire there before, but apparently they don't sell it anymore. I didn't have time to go anywhere else, so that wire at home would just have to work.

I arrived at the library 15 minutes early to set up. I was going to hook my laptop up to the projector for the presentation I had put together, but I forgot cords and we couldn't find the right cord there. Everyone looking at my laptop for the presentation would just have to work!

The class was to start at 10...and 10 came and went. 10:05...10:10...finally someone showed up for the class. The next person didn't show up until almost 10:30. Finally at 10:50, we started and I had 5 students.

Our lesson was based on the works of Edgar Degas and Alberto Giacometti, and I used this lesson as a starting point. The power point presentation went well, and we got started on our project. Because we didn't have as many people as we thought, I let the students have more flexibility with what their subject matter was. It was originally going to be very similar to the lesson plan I found, but hey, who am I to tell them how to make their sculpture? (Insert lyrics to Harry Chapin's 'Flowers are Red' song here)

So we got started...and I was blown away but what everyone made:

Attaching the legs to the styrofoam base

Making her wire form

Adding aluminum foil to add body to the form


Her statue was doing the tree pose from yoga


The cool thing about the sculptures was that we did a paper mache type covering with an awesome liquid called Paverpol. It's a textile hardener, and it dries in 24 hours and can be used outside...meaning that these sculptures can be garden statues if they liked! I ordered the bronze colored Paverpol; when you painted it on, it looked like chocolate milk, but dried a nice bronze color, and even had little flecks of sparkle in it. It's AWESOME!

Adding the newsprint with the Paverpol

Batman was taking the two girls forever, so they called their sister (who it was actually going to be a gift for) and their dad in for reinforcements:

Batman's coming together nicely!

Here kitty kitty kitty!

Because everyone seemed to be doing so well, I actually had time to make a sculpture as well. I've been pricing out rabbit sculptures for the kid's Storybook Garden, but the only ones I liked were waaaay out of our budget. So I made a rabbit, and if you look closely, under his front paw is a round disk that i'm going to paint numbers on and add a chain, making it a pocket watch like it's the White Rabbit from Alice in Wonderland. The kids were so excited when they came to bring me lunch!

My rabbit

The sculptures will be at the library for the next week or so on display. Here they are all lined up so they can finish drying:

Batman, rabbit, cat, yogi, and boxer

Everyone seemed to have a great time! The class was supposed to end at 1, but we finished up around 4. They're looking forward to the next class :)

I'll be teaching one more adult class (topic to be announced later, aka I have no idea what it'll be yet), and two kid classes (one will be mixed media based on Monet's water lilies, the other to be announced), and am looking forward to them!

I learned a lot this week. I learned Degas only ever allowed one of his sculptures to be displayed and the others you may see in museums are all cast by other sculptors about 40 years after his death, and that Giacometti, even though he was a key player in the creation of the Surrealist movement, was excommunicated from the group. I learned that sculpture really is fun, and that I miss being in art classes. I'm looking into returning to school to finish up my painting concentration (hey, I'm only one class away from having it!) and maybe finishing up my degree in art history (I'm only a handful of classes away from getting that degree).

Have you ever taken any classes at your library? What is your favorite kind of art?


  1. Wow! That sounds awesome! How do you sign up? What library is it at?

    1. It's at the Wyoming library. When we have the date for the next class, I'll let you know! I think it's going to be a kid's class in July, but I'll have to check on that :)