This is a project that combines two very different methods and styles of creating plaster sculptures and joining them together in the final piece. Students first make casts of their hands, and then make plaster coated pipe cleaner sculptures, long and lean in the style of Modigliani. Finally, they fuse these two pieces together. Download the lesson plan: Plaster Sculptures Lesson Plan
Age Level: 3rd – 6th grade
- Learn about and create different plaster sculptures
- Learn about the artwork of Modigliani
- Think in the moment, be flexible about their creations
- Plaster, cut in approx 4” strips (can have kids do this)
- Pipe cleaners (1 of one color and 2 of another color for each student)
- Foil (one approx 2’ piece per student, and one 6” piece per student)
- Plastic containers of water
- Teacher Prep:
- Cut plaster strips
- One partner should coat their hand in Vaseline so that the plaster will not sick to it.
- Have the other partner start by dipping a plaster strip in water, brushing off the excess and placing it on the hand. Repeat until entire hand is covered. Do not go too far up the wrist or the plaster will be more difficult to remove.
- Let dry for about 5-10 minutes, until it is mostly stiff and feels firm.
- Cut slit in bottom, near wrist to allow student enough room to wriggle hand out. Depending on age of students, you may want to have the instructor do this.
- Set aside to dry.
Modigliani-inspired Pipe Cleaner Sculptures
- Show the students some images of Modigliani’s sculptures.
- Give each student 3 pipe cleaners (one of one color and two of another) and the pieces of foil.
- Have students crumple the foil to make a ball, affixing it to the single pipe cleaner of one color. This will be the head of their figurative sculpture.
- Take one of the other pipe cleaners and twist it around the pipe cleaner with the head on it, about ½ of the way down. This will make the arms.
- Take the final pipe cleaner and attach it to the bottom of the body pipe cleaner by twisting it up from the bottom. This will make the legs.
- Have the students lay the pipe cleaner body figures on top of the larger foil piece.
- Have them rip between the legs, and around each arm. They will then mold the foil around each arm and leg and the torso.
- When finished, have them take their hand sculpture and play around with their figure sculpture to figure out a way they can work together. Bend it into the appropriate pose and then set the hand sculpture aside again.
- Now the students will add plaster to the foil sculptures, using the same process as they did for the hands: dipping the plaster strips in water and placing them on the figure.
- When finished, set aside to dry.
- The next class session, have students use plaster strips to join the two pieces together into their final finished piece.
- As an additional step, the students can then paint the sculptures once they are dry. Oil or tempera paint work well on the plaster.