Tag Archives: sculpture lesson

The Donuts

A small class of 8th graders created these trompe l’oeil donuts. They each created a half dozen to be placed in a real DD box provided by the local Dunkin’ Donuts on Route 5 in Chittenango, NY.

Here’s how they did it –

  1. Armature consisted of aluminum foil and masking tape with paper towel pieces wrapped around each. The goal was to create life-sized donuts of the same size and thickness. Two classes.
  2. Papier mache was added in the form of paper towel bits adhered with Mod Podge. They used bamboo brushes. This step took several classes.
  3. Celluclay is a paper pulp that when mixed with water, makes a type of gooey glue/clay substance that sticks when dry. This was used for the frosting element. One or two classes.
  4. Students painted the Celluclay portion of the donuts with acrylic paint. They used different tints of colors plus browns to depict chocolate. Each donut a different color. Two classes.
  5. They added designs with paint. This included dashes and dots, stripes and/or splatter painting. One class.
  6. Finally, they painted Mod Podge in spots and sprinkled various glitters/sequins/glass beads to the donuts. One class.

Everyone who sees them in the boxes thinks they are real. “Oh, can I have one?” LOL – so great! <3

The “Humanoids”

My friend Joyce introduced me to Ithaca brand hummus. I also take various vitamins and eat cottage cheese on occasion. The recycling began to accumulate and I thought, if we add styrofoam balls, we could make humanoid sculptures.

I kept thinking about the sculptures from Sharif Bey’s retrospective at the Everson Museum. His work represented his heritage.

It is so fun to create something new. A derivative of a contemporary artist based on found object materials that reflects cohesive themes. My sample was an angel (not pictured). I added the Ithaca hummus container lids for wings. It, sort of, resembled a Golden Globe award, so I added that concept. It would be the Angel on Earth award.

Students assembled their armature, used paper towels and Mod Podge for papier mache then used at least three different materials for texture and design. They considered themes based on personal interests and/or were inspired by classroom materials.

I had patterned papers with animal motifs and packages of fabric papers, Origami paper, African designs and Navajo-inspired designs. I also had actual fabric donated by the Home Ec. teacher last year and wallpaper sample books that someone recently shared with me.

In addition, I have a backroom stocked with old Barbie dolls that we harvested for parts. I brought a few things in from my personal art supplies (antique flag toothpicks, an extra lion head cat costume, assorted buttons, twine, peacock feathers).

Students were graded on construction, use of materials, theme and quality of papier mache application. Can you guess what award each sculpture represents?

P.S. Artists are 8th graders who have art class every other day for one semester. Chittenango Middle School, Chittenango, NY 13037

Pigs for Sale



You may have noticed the development of pig sculptures – I’ve had them on the counter as background in my #ootd pictures.  The project had a couple of components.  Students created armature with paper towels, masking tape, aluminum foil and a recycled bottle of juice or iced coffee (I have tons!).  The sculptures were engulfed in Pariscraft then painted.  Once they were done, the artists took their pigs to a secret location somewhere in the school and using their I-Pads, photographed them in a composition.  It was a really fun project.




My Facebook friends inquired if the sculptures would be auctioned off.  I mentioned that to the students and a few got the professional artist bug, lol.  So, some of the pigs are for sale.  Proceeds will teach students a valuable lesson about their time and effort.  All pigs are priced at $50 each.


These eight pigs are available.  Artwork can be collected at Chittenango Middle School.  Email me at ktashkovski@chittenangoschools.org to make arrangements to purchase.  All proceeds will go to the budding artists.
















Things & Junk Like That


Even though the Mary Mattingly art exhibit is now over (it was at the Katherine O. Ellis Gallery at Light Work on Syracuse University campus), I still wanted to share it with you.  I saw the show and took these pictures when I was in the building for that Jerome Witkin art talk.


I loved the way she created these over-sized “junk” sculptures then placed them in environments and photographed them.  They had a similarity to Sandy Skoglund’s work. Kind of reminded me of – okay, I made this weird ball of stuff, now what should I do with it?  I like the idea of taking art into the world and placing it in other environments, and allowing the new place to give the work a fresh perspective or meaning.






I am working on a self-portrait style texture sculpture with 5th graders and I’m getting inspiration from Mattingly’s work.  Thinking about having them add metallic embroidery floss to their completed pieces – we selected ten pieces of wood for the basis of the sculpture then added the other items to create the texture and personal meaning.  The work here is in progress.  Everything will be painted in the metallic paint, hopefully by next class.


What do you think about the addition of the string?  I was thinking it’s like My Favorite Things – “brown paper packages tied up with string….” or will it be too weird?  Can art be too weird or do we always need to be pushing the envelope?

I absolutely love introducing students to contemporary artists they could potentially meet in their life-time – as I have been saying a lot lately, the world has become small enough through social media that the thought of interacting with your favorite living artist is a direct possibility!  As so much of what is being done today has a social impact, in this case, the idea of recycling (trash to treasure), I think these new artists have a lot to offer our students/kids/youth – think art in the modern world and what that constitutes with regard to emotion….


If you want to catch the next art exhibition at the Katherine O. Ellis Gallery, it starts tomorrow night – Wednesday, March 23, 2016 with a reception from 5:00 – 7:00 pm and  a gallery talk at 6:00 pm.  The show is called The Passenger’s Present and is the work of Japanese born artist Miki Soejima.


According to the Light Work website literature, they “were founded as an artist-run, non-profit organization in 1973.  (Their) mission is to provide direct support to artists working in photography and related media, through residencies, publications, exhibitions and a community-access lab facility.”

The gallery is at 316 Waverly Avenue, Syracuse University, Syracuse, NY 13210.  Contact them at (315) 443-1300 for more information.

Art Games & WW2

ss projects ww2

There was an interdisciplinary program at our school last night.  It was a celebration of World War II, which included art and social studies projects, and musical performances – chorus, band and orchestra.  I also helped out in gym classes this week, teaching dance lessons – jitterbug, bunny hop and the hokey pokey – for the dance that anchored the evening’s festivities.



We honored local veterans and welcomed a guest speaker who shared a first hand account of the holocaust.

marion blumenthal

In preparation for this event, I created a sculpture lesson for my Studio in Art students.  I’ve been collecting old Barbie dolls for many years and finally figured out what to do with them.


We made paratroopers!  The parachute shape was done in plaster of Paris built around  plastic bowl molds.  Students painted the interior with metallic paint and the exterior was done with patches of fabric glued with Mod Podge.  Students then had a buffet of materials with which to construct the humanoid – wooden blocks, cinnamon sticks, sponges… and the Barbie dolls, which had to be harvested for parts.


Hot glue held them together and wires were used to attach the figure to the parachute.


In addition, we did a watercolor unit, focusing on characteristics of the medium, as well as the principles and elements of art to create abstract expressionist paintings.  Students learned glazing, wet-in-wet, saving the white of the paper, and dry brush.


Even though this lesson was meant to understand the emergence of the New York City art scene circa the 1940s and the role of abstract expressionism in art history, I shared my own watercolors with students and explained how I create happy emotion and energy via the use of rhythm, balance and emphasis with color.  It really helped them to dissect the work and understand how to both use the techniques and process the use of elements to create the principles.


My favorite thing about the artwork is that they are all so different. In my own work, I take pride in how my hand moves.  It is unique.  I can recognize my own brushstroke.  These paintings hold  the same sort of identity to the students, like you can identify your art in a police lineup – I mean if your art was a person accused of a crime.  I love that regardless of how silly the analogy.


The resulting experience was pretty surreal, like a dream or a PG-13 movie.  A successful evening with all of the 8th grade teachers and the librarian, PTA and administrators playing a part.  We like to think of ourselves as the happiest middle school – on Earth or just New York State, I’m not sure.

Happiest Middle School

Just found out that Chittenango came in fourth on a list of New York State best towns in which to live, so there’s that.  It is a pretty great place!


Bonus – I posted this picture of me on Instagram in my Trina Turk dress, and Trina Turk responded with a smiley face and a star emoticon!  Amazing!  So great.  Or as my colleague from work (who just took leave to have her baby) says – it’s a Yahtzee!