Arts and crafts are an important part of our homeschool. Though there are plenty of craft books for younger children, older children are often relegated to art programs that focus mainly on drawing, painting, and perhaps a bit of clay modeling. However, today I would like to share our review of a new program that is something completely different. Sculpture Technique: Construct by ARTistic Pursuits takes crafting to a whole new level by teaching children ages 11-18 beginning sculpture techniques in a variety of mediums. In other words, it instructs children how to turn craft into art.
About the Program
Sculpture Technique: Construct is an introductory course on sculpting techniques. The cost of the book is $47.95, and materials will need to be purchased separately. Cost of materials which will vary, of course, depending on what materials you might already have on hand. Most of the materials used are common, and easily found at most craft stores.
The program is divided into 4 units, each of which are designed to be completed over the course of 9 weeks, making this a full year course. For each unit, a new technique or medium is introduced, then a number of projects pertaining to that medium are presented, each building upon the skills learned previously. Because each project builds upon the last, it is necessary to complete the projects within each unit in the order in which they are presented. However, the units themselves can be completed in any order.
Techniques covered in this program are as follows:
Unit 1 – Papermaking: This unit begins with instruction in handmade paper making, and then shows various ways of cutting, shaping, and molding it to create unique paper sculptures
Unit 2 – Cardboard: Students will learn about the different types of cardboard and corrugated papers and how to construct models using them
Unit 3 – Papier-mâché: This unit teaches students how to make a basic armature, then cover it in papier-mâché in order to create creatures, which can then be constructed into sculptures
Unit 4 – Wire: Students learn how to bend and twist wire in order to form various figures of both animals and people
For each unit, the new concept is presented, then the materials page describes not only the materials to be used themselves, but also necessary tools and equipment, safety precautions, and basic instructions. Then the corresponding projects are shown, with step by step instructions, and often full color pictures of completed project samples. At the end of each unit is an evaluation to be completed by each student. These evaluations contain questions for reflection involving three areas: Understanding the Elements of Sculpture, Understanding Art and Craft, and Understanding Craftsmanship.
How We Used the Program
We chose to focus on a couple of different units for the purpose of this review. My boys chose projects from the units on papermaking and papier-mâché.
The first step in the papermaking unit involved grinding up various existing papers into a pulp, in order to create new custom paper. My boys were pretty fascinated by this process, as the idea of making their own paper had never really occurred to them. They enjoyed blending their own color combinations, though waiting on the papers to dry was difficult for them. Once they had their papers made, they then learned how to cut, mold, and glue the papers together to form 3 dimensional figures.
Papier-mâché was plenty of messy fun. They first made armatures, or the basic framework for their figures to be covered in papier-mâché. Then they learned how to make the flour paste and rip strips of paper for dipping into the paste and covering their armatures. This was probably their favorite part of this unit, and they were surprised that a simple mix of flour and water could be used as a paste. Once their projects had dried and hardened, they were then able to paint and customize their creations. They were very excited by the whole process, and have asked to repeat the project numerous times.
Our Final Opinion
Sculpture Technique: Construct is unlike any other art program we have used. This program truly fills a unique niche by presenting more advanced crafting techniques to older children so that they learn to transition craft into art.
My younger son, who has some sensory processing issues, felt a bit overwhelmed at times, especially with some of the textures of the materials. This is not necessarily a flaw of the program, of course, but something to be aware of if you have a child with similar issues.
Another thing to note is that, because of the complexity of the techniques presented, each of these projects can be quite time consuming. It will be necessary to either set aside a large amount of time for each project, or break the project into smaller segments. This is especially necessary for projects that will require extended drying time.
All things considered, however, we definitely enjoyed this program and would highly recommend it to any student interested in art. With clear, detailed instructions and plenty of photographs of examples, I feel that any student (even those who are not as confident in their artistic abilities) could easily learn the techniques presented in this program. This is a perfect way to introduce beginning sculpting concepts and new art mediums in a home setting.
For more information, please check out the ARTistic Pursuits website, or follow them on Facebook. Please also read the other Crew reviews for this, as well as other products, available from ARTistic Pursuits!