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Material Studies. Is it Any Good?

What we make in Material Studies
Shainna Grant

Wood, clay, metal, and even soap! In Material Studies we carve, shape, form, and burn these objects. What can’t we do?! In Mrs. Grants class, we have learned to carve soap, weave baskets, make designs from metal, carve out of clay plates, and make moving sculptures. In this class we learn the art of craft.

One of my favorite projects of this year. This took around two-three weeks to make.

If you’ve ever been in the 400’s hall, you might’ve seen art displayed in cases surrounding the art room. In one of the cases it hold the metal repousse boxes made in the beginning of the school year. These were made by pushing and stretching the metal to hold a design out of a square sheet of metal. After creating the design in the metal sheet, we spread ink on top to have the design stick out, then when it dries we scrub the areas we want clean with a damp sponge. Before the metal repousse becomes a box we make the box by gluing multiple planks provided by Mrs. Grant together.  When done gluing were left with two boxes, one small enough to fit in the other and one where our metal sheet goes. Lastly we glue and hold the metal sheet on top of the bigger box, and then when it dries its all finished.

The second project was soap carving. Its a small project, we sketch out what we want to carve on the soap’s front, sides, and back so we’ll know where to carve. Then we start carving, and carving.. and carving, until we finish! Around this time we start thinking of what we want to do for our kinetic sculpture. A kinetic sculpture is 3D artwork moving from simple interaction. We wont be making the sculpture all by hand, but by the wood carver the library has. As if right now, we haven’t started this process yet, currently were drawing it on a big piece of paper for the machine.

Beginning sketches of my kinetic project.

Right before holiday break we made small dreamcatchers out of yarn and shower curtain rings. There was an option for beads on the bottom if students chose. Right after break we started our baskets. It was fun but it made a big mess since we had to dunk the wood spokes in water to soften them. The minimum length was around 10 inches but since Mrs. Grant is cool with pretty much anything, she let us make it as big as we wanted. One person had made it at least 20 inches, and another made it about 15. You could bend the material to make it bend in or out to make it either vase like or bowl like.

Hannah and Emily Chapman’s plate. Hannah’s is the one of the left and Emily’s is the one on the right.

Our most recent project was clay plates with cool carved out designs called “sgraffito vessels”. We would make plates by tracing a small plate provided by Mrs. Grant. When its dry and traced we take it off the plate and let it dry until leather hard. When class would end we would have to get a dampened paper towel, cover it then wrap it around in a plastic bag. Next class we would let it dry once more until till leather hard, then we got to paint it with underglaze. We used black underglaze and when it dried enough we would carve out our design, which would be white. Unfortunately for me, I did not get to make a plate.. because she let me make a cool dragon. My dragon.. may be wingless but I swear its a dragon. In the belly of the dragon is a small village have a big party with fireworks, age friendly drinks, and dancing. But unfortunately they party almost TOO hard and they leave the dragon in pain.

Material Studies may be one of my favorite art classes, we get to experiment with new things and have fun with it. Mrs. Grant is a really good teacher for this too, she has tons of experience with with and she still tries new things with her students. In my personal experience, this year has been loads of fun and if you think you’d like this, then sign up for it next year.

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