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Saturday, January 22, 2011

Let Them Make Cake!

    4th grade students LOVED our cake sculpture project!  Wayne Thiebaud's cake paintings and Claes Oldenberg's food sculptures were our  art inspirations for this project.  It all started when I was gifted with "Sculpt-a-mold"- an instant paper mache product that comes dry like a dried paper pulp and you mix water with it to get an oatmeal-like mixture that can be sculpted around an armature.  I had a lot of this to work with and thought it might be fun if we learned a little about math, sculpture, pop art, cake decorating and even photography.  
    We began with a simple wedge shape of cardboard and a long piece of cardboard, about 3" x 15".  I showed the students how to wrap the cardboard around the wedge, lining up the top edges of their cardboard pieces and taping it well so that there were no openings in the seam.  Then it was time to start sculpting.  I gave them big, heaping plates of sculpt-a-mold and showed them how to take a small amount in their fingers and pat it out into a thin layer all over their armature.  Once this part was complete, it took about 4-5 days for the cakes to dry and harden.  This was perfect, since I only see my students once every two weeks.  The next time they had art class, we painted our cakes.  Since the next step was to make decorations for our cakes out of Model Magic, the paint needed to be dry first.  So, in our third art class the students could finally make their decorations.  Since it was right before Christmas, I found they wanted to make a lot of snowmen and Christmas type decorations, they also wanted to "write" things on their cakes with letters made from the modeling clay.  I showed them how they could use watercolor markers to tint the clay before they molded it, or even to color it once it was already molded.
    This is still a project in progress... the next step is to photograph the cakes and open them up in an image editing program on the computer to manipulate our photographs into pop art pictures a la Wayne Thiebaud.  I will update this post with more photos of cakes and pop art photos as they are completed.  This was a fun, all beit, time consuming project, but one I think the students will never forget!  Since I teach art on a cart at this school, their classrooms looked like bakeries for quite some time and the cakes were quite the topic of conversation.  The students and staff were amazed at how real the sculptures looked and I think they enjoyed the whimsy of it all.  My students kept saying, over and over, Art is so much fun!  


Painted Paper Weavings

    2nd and 3rd graders made weavings from papers that they had painted using watercolor and tempera paste.  This is a beautiful version of the traditional weaving projects we do with colored construction paper in elementary school.  
    With the watercolor project, I had the students create two paintings; one warm color (yellow, orange and red) and one cool color (green, blue and purple).  Starting with our warm color scheme, we looked at the color wheel and I told the students we would begin with our lightest color first, making a dot or a line (or 2 or 3 of them) on their watercolor paper with the yellow paint.  They would then need to paint concentric circles or lines around their original ones with the orange, and then the red.  Then they would repeat the pattern until they had filled their whole paper (9" x 12") with color.  The students then repeated the same process using the cool colors on a new sheet of watercolor paper.  In our second art class, we then wove the papers together for beautiful results!
    For the tempera paste painted papers, I used a mixture of 1/2 tempera paint to 1/2 art paste to make the tempera paste.  Using donated construction paper (the lesser quality kind than we normally use in the art room), students chose either the warm or cool color schemes to paint with the paste paint, then scraped and stamped designs and patterns into their paper using forks, thread spools, cardboard scrapers, popsicle sticks, and other objects (a la Eric Carle).  The second art class we wove the wonderful papers they created together and the students loved the way they looked!