Even though we are spending less time on artistic pursuits in our homeschool these days, we do love curriculum from ARTistic Pursuits Inc. so we were excited to review another book in their Sculpture Technique series. We got an introduction to the art of needle felting thanks to Sculpture Technique Model.
ARTistic Pursuits Inc. has a well-earned reputation for excellence in art instruction for homeschoolers. Their books encourage children of all ages to get involved in the creative process and develop their observations skills. Brenda Ellis and Daniel Ellis are the authors, both with many years of experience in teaching fine arts. In addition to the wonderful, student-friendly series of art instruction books for age groups from preschool through high school, ARTistic Pursuits also offers two newer books - Sculpture Technique: Construct and Sculpture Technique: Model. These books (and a third, Carve, due out later this year!) introduce students from upper elementary through high school to three-dimensional art. We previously reviewed Construct and this time around we were delighted to be able to review Sculpture Technique Model.
Sculpture Technique Model is intended to follow the Construct book, because it builds on the concepts, but is also just fine as a stand-alone if a student would rather jump right into sculpting with putty, clay, and fiber. A supply list is detailed on the Contents page of the book. There are three units in the book, focusing on those three materials. Each unit begins with some instruction about an element of sculpture, an example of a contemporary sculpture examining that element, and a discussion of the properties of the materials the student will be working with in that unit's projects. The student is then guided step by step through the creation of their own sculptures. At the end of each unit is an Evaluation page to help the student assess their own understanding of the elements and how they've used them in their own work. There are Evaluation answer sheets at the back of the book to help with grading
How did we use it? Kennady wanted to start with the fiber arts projects, which is Unit 3. This unit actually has five projects in it, and we worked on a couple of them. We bought some of our supplies at a local craft store, but I found that using the Blick U Art lists linked on the ARTistic Pursuits Art Supply Packs page saved me a lot of headache! The specific materials are already on the list so I didn't have to worry about whether I was getting the right size felting needle or whatever. Very helpful to felting newbies!
Now, we discovered that for creating wet felt sheets (the first of the fiber projects) and working with them in the wet felting projects, we also needed some household supplies, including squeeze bottles, bubble wrap, and tulle fabric. We didn't have tulle fabric on hand, so we just jumped ahead to the needle felting projects.
Needle felting involves using a special needle to entangle the wool fibers and shape them into a sculpture without an armature. The first project is a bird, because it's a fairly basic oval or round form to get the budding artist familiar with how needle felting works. Kennady was easily able to understand the instructions and work on this independently. As with so many hands-on learning experiences, it makes more sense as you actually DO it, and she soon got the hang of it.
After making a few birds, she was ready to try the next project - an animal with appendages. Again, the instructions were clear, well-explained and accompanied by black and white drawings for each step. We discovered that the process requires more time and patience than we initially thought, because the wool roving needs to be worked with needle until the fibers are very compact and firm. Kennady experienced some frustration trying to get her animal's legs to all come out the same size, and then later on when her felting needle broke! (And since our local craft store did not have the same kind, I couldn't get replacements right away, so we're a little bit on hold with this until I order new ones that are the same kind from Blick!)
|KAT's lamb wound up multi-colored because she was a little|
short of a couple of the colors. I think he's cute anyway!
So far, this has been a great introduction to needle felting, and I have a feeling Kennady will be able try a few more complex designs now that she's familiar with what's involved and is learning from the successes of her first attempts, and from the things that she wished she'd done a little differently. Probably the next thing we'll tackle will be some wet felt sheets so we can make nests for her needle felted birds. Sculpting with putty and clay will have to wait for later, when we have more uninterrupted time to work with those materials. One of the nice things about working with needle felting is that she could put the work on hold pretty much any time she needed to. The book is set up so that the student can really be in control over how long they work at a time, and marks the "end of class" with a hand-stop symbol only when necessary for materials to harden or dry.
What we liked best:
- the student can work independently and has a great deal of freedom in how long they spend at a time on the artwork, and in how they pace themselves through the units.
- the student doesn't need previous experience in working with the media, and neither does the parent!
- the book is not only a how-to, but gives instruction in elements of design and inspiration, and encourages the student to create their own designs rather than copy someone else's.
- the book is non-consumable, so it can be used over and over. Always a plus in my homeschool!
What I need to mention:
- the supply lists detail the art supplies you'll need, but as we discovered, there are some household items you may likely need as well. I do recommend making use of the Art Supply Lists at Dick Blick because it's convenient and saves potential confusion.
- the Model book is considered suitable for students ages 11-18, but I think students on the younger end of that range should have adult supervision, especially when working with putty and clay due to issues of safety and potential messes.
Our bottom line: It was no surprise to me that Sculpture Technique Model was an excellent and thorough art instruction resource that nurtured and challenged my student's creativity. We've been delighted with all of the books we've used from ARTistic Pursuits Inc. and I can warmly recommend this one as well. I think that this and Sculpture Technique: Construct would be excellent choices for any high school student looking for fine arts coursework, but especially for those who may not be interested in drawing and painting. (You may wish to read our previous reviews: ARTistic Pursuits, Middle School Book Two and ARTistic Pursuits Sculpture Technique.)
Would you like to get creative with ARTistic Pursuits in your homeschool? Here's what you need to know:
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