I often judge the success of an art project by how children feel about their end result and how eager they are to take it home. Rarely do 8th graders act openly overexcited about their art, so their reactions to this project made me feel good about it! I’m excited to share this project with you.
8th graders are moving right along this quarter and have already created spectacular grid-drawn self portraits, color collages, paintings on canvas, and artist statements. In this new project, 8th graders reviewed what they knew about texture and learned all about relief sculptures. We discussed the difference between high relief sculptures (that stick really far out,) low relief sculptures (that protrude only slightly) and sculptures in the round (that are entirely free form.) I pointed out that nearly all of the students already own a low relief sculpture… a coin. This was an easy concept for this age group to grasp and we reviewed some famous relief sculptures from history.
I explained to 8th graders that they would each be creating their own relief sculptures by using a piece of foam, bamboo stick, and a single sheet of metal. 8th graders opened their sketchbooks and created thumbnail sketches to illustrate their designs. I asked students to create an abstract design using a variety of lines, shapes, and patterns. After approving each design, I quickly demonstrated the metal tooling technique to students. In order to make an impression into the metal, it is crucial to always place a mat of foam under your metal sheet. We use our bamboo sticks to press down into the metal. For fine line low relief details, use the pointy end of the bamboo stick. For high relief areas, use the flat end of the bamboo stick. I told students that they could either sketch their designs (with pencil) onto their metal or just go for it” with their bamboo sticks by following their sketch.
As students worked, I encouraged them to continue flipping their metal sheet upside down. The raised side would would be showcased on top, so I wanted students to make sure they liked how the front looked throughout the process. After these designs were pressed into metal, students glued the corners of their metal sheet to a small black square.
8th graders learned about “antiquing” and the process of making something appear older. I demonstrated how to apply a thin layer of black india ink over the surface of the metal and to gradually dab away at it. The idea is to let some of the black ink to settle in the crevices in the metal to create a higher sensation of dimension and contrast. This process of antiquing metal definitely takes patience in order to get it just right. Some students preferred to make their sheets of metal dark, while others went very easy on their black india ink. It just came down to a matter of personal taste!As you can see, “antiquing” made such a difference and instantly added age to these sheets of metal. Students really seemed to love this effect.
For the last step of this project, I asked 8th graders to continue the designs within their metal onto their surrounding black frame of paper. I told them to pretend that their designs were getting stretched out and continued onto the paper. Students sketched their continued designs first in pencil, and then in oil pastel.
I love the pop of color that the oil pastel brought to their artwork. A whole new level of vibrancy was added!
I was really, really impressed. I say that a lot, but I really mean it. It’s hard to create a balance when you have a mixed media piece, but 8th graders did an awesome job bringing their pieces together and creating unity through their backgrounds.
Have a great day!