Saturday, November 5, 2016




Sculpture Tools : Sculpture House for a guide to stone for carving, carving tools and stone for sale.

Soap: Yes! you can carve soap very easily. If you choose this material try to find large bars and create a carved series of sculptures.

Here is an example:

How to carve soap to get an idea:


How to carve foam:


High Density foam:

Construction foam:[THD-Marcom];&mid=s[uniq_id];%7Cdc_mtid_0tm59h1qf0_pcrid_72662993315_pkw_home%20depot%20insulation%20foam_pmt_e_product__slid_&gclid=Cj0KEQjwhvbABRDOp4rahNjh-tMBEiQA0QgTGiMilJ9YtN1jx2m1LLQlXmNWZQ_vOvgZpm4-aVQup_YaAoc48P8HAQ

Here is a quick guide to different types of wood and whittling.  There are also a couple of videos on sharpening tool and carving.

Bass Wood

Wood Sources:

Balsa Wood: easy to carve.

Basswood: harder than balsa.

Carving Knifes:

Protective Glove:

Soapstone: the softest stone to carve.


Object Memory: Subtractive

You will create a sculpture using the SUBTRACTIVE method of carving for this project.  The object you create can be based in common, every day objects but involves interpretation abstraction and distortion. Because your memory and emotion is going to influence how you create something, the sculpture can take many different forms. 

The sculpture can be a simplification of a form to create a feeling or a simplification of something observed, like an object in nature. You can take small things and enlarge them, stretch them or turn them upside down. Do gesture drawings of different ideas and solutions. Stay open in the beginning. Depending on the material you choose, your final sculpture’s shape and form will be dictated by the original piece of material. 

The first exercise is to let your mind go back to visual memory and write.  You will bring in your writing along with drawings and visual references (PRINTED) and create small clay models in class from your sketches. You will then decide and acquire your material and enlarge it. The carved foam is very easy to work with, far easier than wood or stone. You can join pieces with skewers, etc. The work will be coated and finished. There are a few options we will discuss.

Materials and Schedule
Please see separate post with material sources links

November 1: Introduction to the Project. Homework: Review online images, write, create sketches, research materials, print any reference material you need. 
November 7: Begin work in class, sketches of sculpture ideas in clay.
Bring writing (stream of consciousness- one half page) and research with physical printouts that you can work from. 
November 15: Bring Foam and/ or other materials for creating your piece.
November 22, 29: Work in class.
December 6: Critique and Artist Research Presentations.
December 13: Final critique for ALL work. 

Please start gathering sketches, images (printed and drawn), research and keep
them in your notebook. Do research, there is much information online, use it.
Print what you need to help you build what you want to make. Reference photos,
diagrams,I want you to see how ideas evolve and how to stay focused on the idea, developing it but retaining the initial excitement for something. The notebook will help you as you work on this project. This will be checked each class and also will be used during class to help you construct and problem solve in your process.

Materials: The object you will be carving should be at least 12” tall or greater. You will determine the scale once you have made your model, then you buy the appropriate amount of materials. 
You are required to buy your own materials for this project. Students can choose to pool resources and share a sheet of foam, glue, etc. 

Carving material if you decide not to use foam you will acquire the necessary tools for that material 
Sharpie Marker
High Density Insulation Foam (blue foam 1” from Lowes or Home Depot)
Drywall hand saw. (under 3.00 and very helpful) 
Bread knife from dollar general, something with serration - fine serrations work really well. Electric carving knife if you can afford. 
Tape Measure
calipers for pottery and sculpture
Gorilla glue or Construction Adhesive for foam(comes in a tube you need caulk gun to use)
Barbecue skewers and/or toothpicks- for joining pieces of foam.
Small tub of joint compound

Writing Exercise: Think of some very strong memories that include objects What did it feel like? what did it look like? You can also ask yourself what your strongest memories were? or you may think of someone and flash through a series of memories about them. The more you do this, the more you will have to draw from. We may find something less obvious the deeper we go into memory. We may see things in a distorted way and not be able to decipher what we are making up and what really happened. These distortions will inform your project.

All that matters is that the object signifies a memory for you. The object has
power, weight (presence) to you and to others. The object you choose can be a
signifier of an event but not necessarily literal. ( for instance, You can make a
church if there is some event or memory of importance around that institution or
idea). The object can be triggered by nostalgia or affection for something lost and
the desire to remake something solid again in the present, something not
affected by time passing.

The object’s scale is considered as a part of its meaning. Its treatment is
synonymous with your feelings about it. What kind of care, what you bring to the
object in terms of emotional memory can be handled in the formal treatment of
its depiction.Scale is important, not only in how big your make your objects, but in the way you zoom in on a memory, and how close of a detail you want to depict.
You can zoom in and out of your memory and try to recall more in the visual
picture. Small objects, close up, or a large view of a structure. You may have
one memory that you remember more as it occurs in your mind than the visual
clues of the moment. You may remember an event but only remember it because
of the photo you saw of the event. Try to go beyond that flash of memory and ask
yourself questions about what was around you, how did it feel, did you feel large
or small...what was your own sense of scale? Start listing the objects that are in
these images, start listing any and everything of importance, large and small. 

Rainer Marie Rilke writes about sculpture and Rodin 1903: (from The
Sculptural Imagination by Alex Potts):
“As a poet, Rilke was fascinated by the idea of the art work as autonomous
object. Sculpture appealed to Rilke because it was the very embodiment of the
work of art as a solidly grounded, primordial thing.”
“When, in a later essay on Rodin, he invites his audience to conjure up memories
of objects to which they had been particularly attached in their childhood.....He
wants them to delve into the distant recesses of their own memories and uncover
the residual traces of odd objects, mostly insignificant in themselves that had
formed an intimate part of their world as very young children..... He is trying to
plunge his audience into an imaginary space where things are not defined by
their functional or aesthetic significance, a scene of childhood fantasy where the
boundaries between inner and outer world are not yet sharply drawn, and where
those objects felt to carry a charge are still envisaged as extensions of the inner
self. ..... this mysterious thing could function as an embodiment of all that they
found puzzling and frightening in the world around them”
“ The stillness that surrounds things’ when ‘all movement subsides becomes
contour, and past and future close in on one another and something enduring
emerges: space, the great calmness of things that have no urge’ 

“‘Memory’ labels a diverse set of cognitive capacities by which we retain
information and reconstruct past experiences, usually for present purposes.
Memory is one of the most important ways by which our histories animate our
current actions and experiences. Most notably, the human ability to conjure up
long-gone but specific episodes of our lives is both familiar and puzzling, and is a
key aspect of personal identity. Memory seems to be a source of knowledge. We
remember experiences and events which are not happening now, so memory
differs from perception. We remember events which really happened, so memory
is unlike pure imagination. Yet, in practice, there can be close interactions
between remembering, perceiving, and imagining. Remembering is often
suffused with emotion, and is closely involved in both extended affective states
such as love and grief, and socially significant practices such as promising and
commemorating. It is essential for much reasoning and decision-making, both
individual and collective. It is connected in obscure ways with dreaming. Some
memories are shaped by language, others by imagery. Much of our moral and
social life depends on the peculiar ways in which we are embedded in time.
Memory goes wrong in mundane and minor, or in dramatic and disastrous ways.”
Sutton, John, "Memory", The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Summer
2010 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.), URL = <

“Memory is a funny thing. Research has consistently found that our memories
from when we were kids are either extremely inaccurate, or didn't happen at all.
They are just elaborate constructions of a memory storage system that isn't very
good at distinguishing real memories from fake ones.”
Read more: 5 Ways To Hack Your Brain Into Awesomeness | http://

Emotion can have a powerful impact on memory. Numerous studies have shown
that the most vivid autobiographical memories tend to be of emotional events,
which are likely to be recalled more often and with more clarity and detail than
neutral events. The activity of emotionally enhanced memory retention can be
linked to human evolution; during early development, responsive behavior to
environmental events would have progressed as a process of trial and error.
Survival depended on behavioral patterns that were repeated or reinforced
through life and death situations. Through evolution, this process of learning
became genetically embedded in humans and all animal species in what is
known as fight or flight instinct.

Artificially inducing this instinct through traumatic physical or emotional stimuli
essentially creates the same physiological condition that heightens memory
retention by exciting neuro-chemical activity affecting areas of the brain
responsible for encoding and recalling memory. This memory-enhancing effect of
emotion has been demonstrated in a large number of laboratory studies, using
stimuli ranging from words to pictures to narrated slide shows, as well as
autobiographical memory studies.
Interesting link on The Memory Process, Neuroscience and Humanistic Perspectives:

The Art Work of Folkert De Jong: Carving Examples in Styrofoam

Folkert De Jong

Folkert De Jong is a contemporary artist who works in Amsterdam. He uses styrofoam as a final material. He talks about why in the second link below. 

"What matters to me, are the actual moral conflicts that emerge from these materials ones that are being used in sculptural installations. I carefully choose these materials for two contradicting reasons: For its immoral content and because of its tantalizing sweetness, human body-related colours, attractive texture and its very specific gravity and the possibilities they offer to use them in a sculptural way. These two elements provoke both attraction and repulsion in the same time and make it an efficient but disputable sculptural material. Once used in figurative sculptural scenes that represent a specific human drama, the meaning of the materials start to emerge above the technical possibilities and start to show its most politically incorrect side. That is my starting point and it becomes for me a unique artistic medium to reflect on the subjects of dark human drama and complex social and political realities in a most efficient way."

Monday, October 10, 2016


In class on 10/11/16 we will discuss how to source materials and finalize your project idea. Please be prepared with your research and references and any materials you think you need. PLEASE WRITE TO ME IF YOU HAVE ANY QUESTIONS. WE WILL REVIEW HOMEWORK AND IDEAS TOGETHER AT THE BEGINNING OF CLASS. 

Possibilities for Multiples Project

  1. Multiple objects with variation on a theme, or the same object repeated. 
  2. A material or object used as a unit that is combined and accumulated to create a larger form and/ or installed in a specific space. 

Possible Materials and Techniques

1.Clay- hand built, press-molded or slip cast. 
2. Paper- paper mache, cardboard, cut paper or cast paper.
3. Fabric and textiles.
4. Plaster (must be cast into rubber or directly built up). Mold-Making. 
5. Wax- Cast into plaster or rubber mold. 
6. Rubber- Cast into plaster mold. 
7. Found Objects. 

Saturday, October 8, 2016


Multiples Project: Psychological Impact

Remember that nothing happens in the brain only, work through your hands, with drawing and writing. Ideas are generated and expanded while you are in motion, be open to discovery.

Answer these questions in your sketchbook or on a piece of paper that you insert to your sketchbook. BRING WHAT YOU NEED TO WORK ON YOUR PROJECT TO CLASS ON TUESDAY.

What kind of psychological impact do you want your sculpture to have?
What emotion do you want to convey?
is it purely optical?  (meaning engages your eyes and transforms your sense of space- example Tara Donovan, Olafur Eliasson

What visually excites you?
What formal aspects will you employ? Consider texture (contrast or homogenous), composition, eye level, color, monochrome, complexity vs. simplicity.
How can you go beyond your first idea and expand it? research aspects of the subject matter in art, mythology literature, science etc.

What materials will you use?

Fabric, paper (cut, constructed, paper mache, cast), rubber (latex or silicone), sculptable epoxy, plaster, clay (slip cast or hand built), felt, found/ bought objects?

In terms of multiples, will your sculpture be created in a 'series' the way that Louise Bourgeois and Kiki Smith create or will it be one form, or installation involving parts that add up to one sculptural piece like Tara Donovan ?

Here are three artists who use repeat and variation within their work, making several versions of an idea in different materials. Louise Bourgeois, Kiki Smith and Rona Pondick both deal with personal psychology that is transformed into a universal language that many can relate to.

Louise Bourgeois

Kiki Smith : Kiki Smith's work has a kind of naiveté to the way she draws and renders the figure. Her composition and material sense are enhanced by her personal way of sculpting, they are not limited. Her work is not about the isolated object but in how it relates to the other elements and how it relates to the viewer's own sense of physical self.

Kiki Smith

Rona Pondick