Sunday, November 9, 2014

Teachers' Sculpture Fest at NBAM!

On Tuesday, our school system had a teacher professional development day, which meant all of the students got to stay home, and the teachers became students for the day.

I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to go to the annual Art Educator's Workshop at the New Bedford Art Museum/Artworks! (in cooperation with SMEC and UMASS Dartmouth CVPA), which was a fantastic day. The theme was 3-D art, and I got to try some really cool things that you might like to try, too!

First, we were all asked to bring along an index card with a design on the front and our names and school on the back. I created a sugar skull theme since I'm into that right now. It took me a while, but now it's one of my favorite cards I've done so far. When got to NBAM, we turned in our cards and later they chose cards to raffle off cool prizes. Deb Smook of Artworks! had also displayed a bunch of the cards from previous years' workshops... memories!
My 2014 ID card design
Past workshop ID Cards
For the first part of the morning, we were surrounded on the main floor by a current exhibits of really amazing art. We spent an hour or so getting some excellent ideas for sculpture lessons from local experienced teachers, Nancy Corrigan Wilbert (fellow corgi mom) and Elizabeth Machado-Cook from Seekonk High School. Materials included plaster, clay, cardboard, twigs and bark, and more. With their vast experience, these presenters were able to provide lots of tips on using and adapting the materials as well as how to incorporate writing into the creative process, which is a big trend right now. They even gave us full lesson plans for each project-- that is like art teacher gold!

My crazy "glass" sculpture
Next, we went to the basement of the museum (which was an old bank building and is still under reconstruction after the NBAM/Artworks! merger) and created sculptures from recycled water bottles inspired by the work of Dale Chihuly. Elizabeth showed us how you can color or paint the plastic, cut it, and melt it with a hot plate, heat gun, or microwave. When done, the plastic looks like melted glass, and you can assemble pieces using hot glue or tape.

We all brought empty soda bottles as requested and got to try this. Mine came out pretty crazy looking, but that might be because I turned into kind of a pyro for a bit there. I really just wanted to keep melting plastic over the hot plate forever, so honestly I didn't get much done in the way of actual assembly. But there were so many different results in the group it was really fun to see all of the different things people created.

Here are a couple of links to directions on how to create your own "glass" sculptures if you want to try this at home-- it was a blast and is a great way to use recycled materials!
More cool "glass" sculptures from the workshop
(You don't actually have to melt the plastic for a cool effect if you are working with younger kids-- lots of fun things to try as you'll see...)

For examples of Chihuly's work, visit

After a lunch break in lovely downtown New Bedford, we returned to the main floor of the museum to what we all originally thought was creative yoga session. Fear not!! Actually, a local yoga instructor, Juliet from Yoga on Union, showed us the sun salutation, and then we had to sculpt the poses into full size human forms!

After getting some basic instructions and materials from Deb, we broke up into teams of 5 or 6. One person did a pose from the sun salutation series, and the rest of the group was responsible for creating the sculpture.

First, we wrapped the person's body in plastic wrap, then we went over the plastic wrap with a couple of layers of clear packing tape. Then the form was carefully cut off the body and taped on the seams. We did create the parts in stages then attached them together. We even added packing peanuts and yarn scraps inside for "guts"!
Wrapping with plastic wrap and tape.
No one wanted to risk cutting up anyone else's clothes!! Luckily, no accidents!

Each group had a different pose.

Our finished pose sculpture.
Suggestion- if trying for the first time, start with a basic standing pose, like this!
When we were done, each of the groups had created one of the poses in the sun salutation series and we set them up in the museum in order of poses with Juliet's help.

It was super fun and this is actually a very non-expensive way to create a really huge sculpture with lots of impact. You can do this at home as well; you can even use dolls or stuffed animals instead of actual humans. Here are some links to directions:

I can't wait to try these new lessons and I'm already looking forward to next year's workshop! If you find yourself in downtown New Bedford, stop by the museum. Artworks! also has art classes and programs for all ages--check them out and try some art today!