These are samples of a Georgia O'Keeffe unit Maria did with 11-12 graders, abstracting natural objects. Students studied the work of Georgia O'Keeffe, then did personal research into forms in nature. Sketches were made of natural objects - then the fun began abstracting them. Clay forms evolved and changed throughout the construction. Draped slab method was used for construction - along with other hand building techniques.
Georgia O'Keeffe World of Art - This book gives the reader a great outline of O'Keeffe's life. The author matches the artist's personal development with her work so that one can travel in O'Keeffe's footsteps and appreciate both her outlook and inner eye.
This lesson would begin much the same way - have students examine organic forms in sculpture - and look to artists inspired by nature. See work of Henry Moore
Students would create some sketches abstracting a natural form (bones work well for inspiration).
Make a wire armature using 1/8" thick sculpture wire. Drill holes in working base (scrap wood) for wire ends (for pieces that will be mounted on finished wood base).
Cut strips of aluminum mesh window screen and shape around armature. Use finer wire to attach to armature. Allow for some open/hollowed areas.
Apply layer of Plaster Gauze strips dipped in water - smoothing to fill in holes. Refine shape as needed. Apply second layer.
Add textural elements with pinched/scrunched up gauze if desired. Secure with strip of gauze
Smooth surface with plaster of Paris mix. To mix plaster: Only mix enough plaster to use in about twenty minute period. Put about one cup of water in bowl. Sprinkle in plaster until you see plaster to mound up in center - then mix with hand. DO NOT begin mixing until all plaster has been added. It will take about as much plaster as water. You can smooth on the plaster with special sculpture tools - or simply plastic knives.
Once completely dry, smooth with sand paper and files.
Stain and build up patina with shoe polish. Polish to a soft sheen. Alternate finish: faux metal. Spray with black and brown spray paint - then dusting of Metallic Spray Paint.
Mount on finished - sanded, stained and varnished wood base. Drill holes for wire ends.
Rattles - grouping of three that relate in some way:
Form two pinch pots - put fired "peas" of clay inside (you can use bone dry pieces of clay - but these may stick to the inside walls). Fuse the two pinch pots together. Paddle to shape and sculpt. Put pin holes in rattle form so air is not trapped.
Take a baseball size chunk of clay (or desired size). Wedge clay and roll into ball. Cut ball in half with string or wire. Hollow out both halves to about ¼" to 3/8" thick. Put pea size pieces of dry clay (or fired clay) inside and fuse hollowed cup together (score and slip edges). Carve and sculpt form to desired shape. Put pin holes in to prevent trapped air (trapped air will make form explode in Kiln during firing).
Organic Pods/Rattles by Kelly Jean Ohl
Minnesota artist, Kelly Jean Ohl, makes sculptural objects, bowls, rattles, and small installations, incorporating organic textures and shapes. Shown is a collection of her organic pod rattles. Students can make these using the above techniques - texture with various tools - stain with oxides. Rattle forms could be glazed or painted. Students may want to make a textured bowl to display their rattles.
Ceramic Pod Totems - Patz Fowle
Here are two examples of stacked pods from Patz Fowle. After Patz taught the "Patz Process Ceramic Technique" for hand building clay animals to teachers and students in Japan, Ms. Jenny Thomas in London shared with Patz the idea for the ceramic pods. The examples here are from students at the South Carolina Governor's School for Science and Mathematics. Here is one photo from Japan. Patz students used a non-toxic finish on the ceramic pods -- students stained with acrylic washes, dry brushed with acrylics and sealed (outdoors) with sprayed on glossy or matte ceramic sealer.