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Sculpture Technique: Model Review by Debbie Lott

Brenda Ellis
Artistic Pursuits Inc.
(303) 467-0504
2626 East 109th Avenue
Northglenn, Colorado 80233

Sculpture Technique: Model is an 84 page, comb-bound book that teaches students about three-dimensional design through the process of modeling. The book sells for $47.95 and is appropriate for upper elementary through high school students. There are three units in this study, each teaching the use of a different type of modeling media: putty, clay, and fiber.

A complete list of necessary supplies is included both on the contents page of the manual and on the ARTistic Pursuits website. The primary supplies that the user will need to locate are Rock Hard Water Putty, white, gray, and or red clay, wire clay cutter and scraper tools, a felting mat, felting needles, a pen style felting needle tool, and natural wool roving. Other supplies that the user may already own are also listed, such as acrylic paints, assorted paint brushes, and masking tape.

Unit 1, “Creating Mass with Putty,” introduces the student to modeling with rock hard water putty,  a powder that can be mixed with water to achieve the desired consistency. In this unit, the student makes small sculptures with just the putty and makes forms with newspaper or wire, then covers them with the putty to create larger sculptures.

Unit 2, “Creating Scale with Clay,” allows the student to experiment with the pinch, coil, and slab methods of creating clay sculpture using air-dry clay.

Unit 3, “Creating Surface with Fiber,” is the most unique unit of this book. Students focus on color and texture as they learn the process of wool felting. They start by making felt sheets and using these sheets to create sculptures. Then they add surface design to the felt, create felted vessels, and learn the craft of needle felting to create animal sculptures. Each unit includes theoretical instruction, teaching the student about mass, scale, and surface. The properties of each type of media are discussed, and each unit ends with a written evaluation that requires the student to demonstrate understanding of the elements of sculpture, creativity, and craftsmanship.

There are twelve lessons in the book, each requiring at least two sessions to complete, since some projects are lengthy and most require drying time before painting. Because the student is creating original works rather than simply following instructions, he could do several projects for each lesson if desired. The book is intended to be a full year course, but if a student only creates one sample from each unit, at the pace of a unit a week, the course wouldn’t last for a full year. For a full years’ credit, students would need to devote more time to each project and create multiple sculptures of each type. We plan to consider it a one-half credit course.

My high school student used Sculpture Technique: Model and was able to work on the program fairly independently. I just helped her find supplies, made a few suggestions as she worked, and made sure that she was on task and not skipping any steps. She began with Unit 1: “Creating Mass with Putty.” The primary medium for this unit was Durham’s Rock Hard Water Putty, which I found inexpensively at a local building supply store. She created several different projects with the putty—some figures that were small and fairly flat and others that required her to create the shapes with newspaper and tape, then to cover the figures with soft putty. She then painted the figures with acrylic paint.

She has also begun a project in the fiber (felting) unit—making felt sheets from wool. We’re both excited about this unit and are especially looking forward to making needle-felted animal figures.

Although this sculpture technique course differs in format from ARTistic Pursuit’s grade-level books that focus on drawing and painting, it still provides the same quality instruction that we have come to expect from ARTistic Pursuits, offering a nice balance of art appreciation, instruction, and hands-on experience. Emily is enjoying the course and I feel that it is a solid program that, although accessible for many elementary-aged students, is worthy of high school credit.

-Product review by Debbie Lott, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, April, 2016