Since we hadn’t yet explored any three-dimensional art, our final art lesson this year was inspired by the sculptures of Alberto Giacometti.
Step 1: Make the shape of the person using wire.
I pre-cut three pieces of wire. The longest piece for the legs, slightly shorter for the arms and a shorter piece for the torso and head. With my own children, I would allow them to cut the wire with wire cutters but with only an hour, I wanted to make sure we had time to complete the sculptures. The children bent the legs into shape, looped a head into the shorter piece and joined the pieces by twisting them together.
Some of the children needed help with this part and some of the joins were a bit wobbly. With very young children you could make the wire a structure ahead of time and let the children bend it into a pose.
Our trial sculpture had a pose with arms on hips. This was difficult to keep steady and needed a lot of adult help. Older children may be fine but since this was a larger group of 7-year-olds, I suggested they make a pose that wasn’t touching another part of the body.
Step 2: Cover the wire with plaster bandage.
Each child had a pot of water and a pot of pre-cut pieces of plaster bandage. Dip the plaster bandage in water for five seconds then wrap or squish around the wire, smoothing out any holes with your finger.
Some children found it easier to work with small pieces, as in the picture but some preferred slightly longer pieces that they could wrap. I would suggest giving children a mixture of sizes.
Start with the joins, if they are a bit wobbly, wait a few minutes for these to dry ( you may need a few layers ) and then the model will hold still without moving.
Keep the water pot and plaster bandage away from each other. If the plaster bandage gets wet and is not used straight away, it won’t work and will crumble away.
Leave a section of wire at the bottom of the legs uncovered for inserting in the stand.
Step 3: Make a stand.
We used air-drying clay for the stand because it was heavy enough not to tip but easy to insert the wire into. The shape of the stand was dependent on the way the model balanced. Some models required clay moulded around the legs, others needed a wide base and some had two stands to help it balance. Working out how to balance the model on a stand was a challenge to some.
Place the finished models on a piece of paper towel to dry to avoid the clay cracking.
Step 4: Paint the sculptures.
We used acrylic paint with a gold metallic sheen to replicate bronze, Giacometti’s chosen medium.
I think they look great and I’d love to try them again to see what magical creations older children would make.