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Enter the Third Dimension: how to make sculptures at home

Images (clockwise L to R): Image from the Elgin Marbles, Cardboard sculpture by Ken Kewley, sculpture by Lydia Ricci and sculpture by Anthony Caro

Need Some Relief? 

We all do! And we can offer some! As you saw in Homer's video interview about his recent show, relief sculpture is almost a hybrid of drawing and sculpture. Here's a makeshift way to try it at home. With clean modeling materials like Plasticine (non-toxic and non-drying) or Sculpey (non-toxic and can be oven-baked), which can both be found online, you can use simple tools like a butter knife to create beautiful basic relief sculpture. Your source can be a still life, a plant, or anything, really. Try rolling out a thin layer on a surface (the back of a cookie sheet might work) and then build your relief out from that. Good lighting will help you see the dimensionality. Think about figure/ground, negative/positive, active/quiet and the value system that light and shadow create. You can also try building up a relief with pieces of cardboard, almost like a dimensional topographical map. 

Cardboard Trash to Treasure

One of our favorite visiting artists, Ken Kewley, has shown us what magical things can be done with cut-up cardboard boxes, masking tape, and acrylic paint. Simple planes and raw sophistication can result. These sculptures can also be the 'model' for a whole series of drawings and paintings. 

Another sculptor we discovered who does fantastic things with found scraps is Lydia Ricci. Check out her work in this article—it's really fun. 

Curl up with Caro

The beautifully minimalistic abstract steel sculptures of British sculptor Anthony Caro are the perfect inspiration for small scale maquettes from things around the house—cardboard, printer paper, drawing paper, watercolor paper, construction paper, foil—plus scissors and tape or paperclips. Think about elements and principles of design like weight, balance, movement, tension, repetition, variation, negative and positive space, and scale. Let's see what you can do!  


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