Reductive Birds

Here are some pictures of my Art-8 reductive bird sculptures.


I have nine students in each of two classes on “B” days – I can only do this with small groups because they are reductive sculptures – the bird is carved from a 4″ x 8″ block of floral foam.  The styrofoam is subtracted, not added. I use my teacher eagle eyes to watch over everyone and offer guidance one-on-one.


Students create a profile of a bird after selecting a resource picture – they draw it onto white paper that matches the dimensions of the block.  The drawing is traced onto both sides of the block.



Then students carve away the “not-bird”.  The head comes next and it takes a giant leap of faith because they must hack away at the drawing while carefully looking at the block from all angles, and trust that it will be a bird.  Once they start seeing the head and the beak forming, there is a knowing that it is happening!  Some students are better at sculpture than others, like teenage-apprentice Michaelangelos.  They help each other, which is so cool!


We use clay tools for this project and this time we borrowed goggles from the 5th grade science lab.  The styrofoam debris is a bit of a nuisance, but since the actual carving only takes four or five classes, it is tolerable.



The next class is all about the tail.


Then the wings and tummy.


And finally details.



I paint white primer on the bird sculptures (cheaper and thinner in consistency than gesso), so that the acrylic paint doesn’t soak into the foam.  The tech teacher prepares the plaques for us by drilling a hole to fit the dowel and students glue the bird onto it with Elmer’s wood glue.  The eye choices of glass jewels, wiggle-eyes or tiny compasses are fun.  The option to throw in some colored duck feathers was not taken this go-round.


The birds are on display at Chittenango Middle School for a couple more weeks then they will fly the coop. <3

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