By Paula Briggs
This resource documents 3 sessions at Jeavons Wood Primary School in Cambourne, Cambridgeshire, in which I’ll be working with a year 5 pupil and a year 4 pupil for one hour once a week. Through regular sessions, and in collaboration with the school, the aim is to:
- Provide the opportunity for the children to develop their hands-on making and visual arts skills through regular contact and small group work;
- Help build confidence in the children in all areas of their school life, including academic, social, creative and practical skills, and so demonstrate the importance of hands-on creative epxloration;
- Inspire visual arts projects amongst other pupils and staff in the school by sharing outcomes.
The children spent three, hour long sessions exploring modroc as a construction material. I kept the subject matter deliberately open. We talked about creating collages and sculptures based upon landscape and architecture, without being too controlling about outcomes.
To start, the children used magazine imagery to create small square or rectangular scetions of collage. We looked at how we could take areas of colour in an image and give it a new context /meaning. For example the colour and texture of a woman’s hair might become a field, or a blue grey coat become a stormy sky.
We used glue to stick the pieces of collage to themselves to make the squares/rectangle of colour.
We then lay the collage squares face down on paper. We used sheets of modroc over the top of the collage squares to make plasterboard. See this post for more information on how to work with modroc.
It’s important to:
- Squeeze some of the water out of the modroc before you smooth it down on the collage paper.
- Make sure you really smooth the modroc down and press hard.
- Use 2 to 4 layers of modroc over each collage piece depending on how thick you want the plasterboard to be.
- Tip! Make sure you work on a clean piece of paper for each collage piece, so that the front side of the collage doesn’t get too covered in modroc.
We also shaped the wet modroc around the collage shapes.
The plasterboard takes 30 minutes or so to set.
Once the modroc is set, we turned them over.
Handling the pieces of plasterboard is a really good way to start getting the brain to think about what you are going to construct. The plasterboard pieces can be further shaped at this stage by folding or cutting (though some children may need help).
I challenged the children to think how they might make their plasterboard pieces stand up; how they might turn them into a piece of sculpture. I took in some small building blocks to add to their choice of forms from which they could build, and also to reinforce the sense of play.
Children covered the blocks with more modroc.
And then used these blocks to make their plasterboard pieces stand. The blocks were attached with more modroc. Again make sure you really smooth the modroc down and leave it to set.
Tip! If the plasterboard is completely dry (ie. if you made it the week before), wetting it slightly will help the new modroc stick.
Like any construction project, children have to deal with balance, structure, and how to make things stand. Don’t be afraid to experiment (and take risks).