From Jeryl: One of my 4th grade students' favorites involves the people you make out of tinfoil. But then we go on and wrap the whole person with masking tape, paint with Acrylic Paint and dress, add hair, props etc.. They are mounted on scrap mat board with more details. When our theme was sports, they added balls and nets, etc... or drew the playing field. Last year when our theme was Around the World - we had some hilarious Sumo wrestlers, hula dancers, African tribal warriors etc.
Actually this project comes from a unit on Jacob Lawrence (African American artist) that our 4th graders read about in Language Arts in their classroom. He used a lot of images of people in action in cities. My art unit ties in with portraying people. We do comparing /contrasting of several of Lawrence's' paintings with lots of people in action. I even have the kids march around the room to Sousa's march and have them freeze and look around at how other people are standing as they are marching. We do a drawing/painting /cutting project based on Lawrence's painting "Parade" That whole thing takes many class times. One other part of that lesson is teaching them how to do gesture drawings (quick sketches of people in action) I have one kid stand on a table and we all have 30 seconds to sketch him., Then another kid poses and we do him in 30 seconds. Keep going as time allows changing marker colors each time. You end up with a page of people-its cool. Then after all this we start the foil people which is a natural extension of learning to portray the human figure. When they make the foil people we take some time to pose them and do gesture drawings of them. Then we go on and tape them, paint them, etc.
See Handout - You take a rectangle of foil. Imagine it in thirds - make two cuts 1/3 of the way down . The cuts should be 1//3 of the way in and 2/3 of the way in. From the bottom make one cut 1/3 of the way up -make the cut in the middle. When you make the top cuts it will be the arms on either side and the head in the middle. The bottom cut will make the two legs. You gently gather the foil in the middle -its like holding the person by the waist. Gently crumple the foil to make the arms and head and legs. The trick is to get them to do it gently-if they scrunch it up the people will be tiny. I usually tear the foil about a foot long and their people end up being about 5-6 inches big. I keep some small pieces handy to do repair surgery - like attaching arms they have pinched to pieces. I sometimes just do the foil people and then they pose them to draw in their Sketchbooks -- Like standing next to a glue bottle with their arm around it, or sitting on the edge of the table. The next step to wrap them in masking tape. (An alternative would be to wrap with small pieces of plaster gauze -- for plaster addition) See more examples below.
The lesson is 28 pages and has many images - so it takes a very long time to download. Lesson presents "the perspectives and experiences of Native doll makers describing how their work is keeping old traditions and developing new ones. These Native voices encourage students to
examine dolls from the collections of the museum and to connect them to the diverse cultures, communities, and environments."
Students would them follow up with a dollmaking activity (corn husk, cloth, wire, paper mache - Sculpy - foil - whatever you have on hand).
Fashion Unit From Barbara Yalof (for fifth grade):
The dressed foil dolls are going down the runway. Barbara slit a snake like path in the foam core "floor" so the dolls can move along the runway attached by a stick.
Plaster Gauze Figures From Mary Jane Hadley
Mary Jane began this unit with aluminum foil figures. Once the students had their pose, they covered with small pieces of plaster gauze. Figures were finished with tissue paper and gloss medium. It is best to use bleed resistant tissue paper. Props were made to add to the figures. Figures and props were glued to painted wood bases. For a more secure mount, a hole (approximately 1/8" - whatever size wire you are using) can be drilled into the leg and wood base (or arm as in the second example) and a wire inserted before gluing (pieces of coat hanger wire works for this step). Mary Jane used a nail (with head cut off) to support some of the figures. These could also be begun with a wire armature - then padded with foil.
Susan from Long Island has done a similar lesson - with added student photograph for face (self portraits). Susan begins her unit with pipe cleaner wire armatures - then pads with aluminum foil. Any easy to bend wire can be used for armatures. The face is kept flat to ease gluing of photograph. Susan also used tissue paper and gloss medium for the finish.
Here are some resources to get your started:
Africa Direct: Beautiful dolls from Africa. Bead Zulu and Ndebele dolls and more.
Kanika African Sculpture [Archive] - See African inspired dolls/figurative sculptures by Kanika Marshall. Ceramic figures with authentic African style costume.
In previous years, Jeryl has done Christmas theme - elves and angels and such - Student also enjoyed sports figures. Show above are a couple of foil people hanging out in the art room. Students posed them and made drawings. This year (2004), Jeryl's fourth graders made circus performers. See acrobat and ring girl.
Give each student a sheet of tin foil about one foot long. Have students draw lines with Washable Markers before they cut. (so you can check the placement)
Gently crumple foil together holding it in the middle (like you were holding the waist of the person) Gently, if you squeeze too hard the foil compresses and the person gets really tiny!
Have small pieces of foil available for strengthening arms and legs or necks (some who have squeezed too tight lose limbs!)
Sometimes we pose these foil people and do sketches in our Sketchbooks of people in action. (Propped against a glue bottle, sitting on the edge of the table, holding a pencil)
Next step -- Tape the person and then paint.
Give each student a Styrofoam meat tray (write their name on it) for storage of person and keeping supplies while they work, (yarn, fabric they have chosen, etc...)
Submitted by: Cindi Hiers
Foil Gesture Sculpture - Wire Armature
Grade level: Middle school-through high school
Create Gesture sculpture using wire - cover with aluminum foil, Create environment, Must have a story. The lesson starts with gesture drawings from life models (usually from PE). Twist wire reflecting inner energy and make the gesture drawing a formed image. Wrapped in foil and painted with white latex. The students were then to create an environment (which made them think about which gesture drawing they would choose to recreate) and a story about their piece.
Submitted by:Merrilee Gladkosky, Connecticut Doll-maker
Unit: Fiber Arts - Figurative Sculpture
Lesson: Fiber Wrapped Dolls - Gesture Drawing
Grade Level: Upper elementary through high school
We do contour and then gesture drawing for several weeks. We spend one of those weeks concentrating on what gesture drawing is. The other times we talk about contour and proportion of the human body. Sometimes we lay down on mural paper and see how many "heads" are in each body part. Okay, so it starts with figure drawing.
Then, I take gesture drawing into three dimensions. I give the kids sculpting armature wire and then tell them they must create a figure (not in a pose, because once we get it proportional, we can choose the pose) using the wire as line... makes sublime sense to me, doesn't it to you?
I try to squeeze a lesson based on BEN SHAHN, brushstroke drawing and exaggeration in here somewhere as well... just a need to balance the "being in proportion" with the possibilities that exaggeration offers.
AND, I show them skills like cutting and joining wire by twisting. So they come up with these pretty darned decent wire sculptures done in the gesture form. They also have to be a little conscious of structure and wrapping things around each other so they are structurally sturdy.
I usually display these by hanging them around (hang wire sculpture)
NEXT STEP: you could add smaller wire, Beads, textures, fibers, milagros, charms... whatever.
WHAT I LIKE TO DO: put them away until closer to art show time and have the kids wrap them with polar fleece, batting, or wool blanket ends (there is a good source in Oregon, I think, I have to look this up. They can tie the fabric together as they wrap or glue (tacky or crafters' pick) or sew. These can then have sew heads added, hands, be dressed if desired...
The point is that figure sculpture and dollmaking are one in the same in so many ways... There is a wrap doll link on the Fabricmangler website (Note: This site isn't online and the archive is incomplete. I notice that several doll artists on that site now have their own websites. You can find websites online for Barbara Graff, Bill Gordon, Merrilee Gladkosky, and Mary Hurlburt - Ken Rohrer) that shows a simpler doll made with pipe-cleaners and handmade terra cotta bead heads. Student examples to come...
Wrapped Dolls from Carol Duvall Show - by Susanna Oroyan*