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Sunday, January 31, 2016

Wayne Thiebaud inspired Cake Slice Sculptures

Who doesn't love cake? I know the 5th grade students love it. We've been investigating how to build sculptural forms out of tagboard. We had first began using tagboard paper in the Van Gogh inspired Bedrooms.  The bedroom sculptures gave students an understanding of how paper can be cut, folded, and secured into their intended form. I felt confident they were then able to build a more complex form, like a slice of round cake.

I often create lessons with art history for our inspiration...having an art history degree, it feels natural. This particular lesson explores Pop Art, sculpture, and the artist Wayne Thiebaud.  I remember a print of one of his "Boston Creme" cake paintings hanging in my elementary school growing up.  I always loved this painting because of how well Thiebaud (pronounced Tee-bow) magically made his paintings look like they had the real textures of cake. I had to share it with my students.
Wayne Thiebaud, "Boston Cremes", 1962
I couldn't stop thinking about the lesson I found on Nic Hahn's blog, Mini Matisse. The Mini Matisse is one of many art education blogs I follow. I was inspired by her "Piece of Cake" project. I made some minor changes in that I had the students sponge on tempera paint for the "sponge" part of the cake. I did not have a template for the students to use, they were given parameters for the height of cake (4 inches) and the demonstration I gave for creating their own template for the 3-D slice.

Day 1: They were given 1 sheet of white tagboard, rulers, scissors, masking tape, and a demonstration to create their cake form.

Day 2: They used paper mache to cover their forms with Elmer's Art Paste and newsprint.

Day 3: They painted their cakes with tempera paint and used a mix of shaving cream, glue, and food coloring to "ice" their cake.  This material is almost magical! It is applied much like icing would be with a palette knife. We used craft sticks and they did just fine. The mixture dries with the appearance of a creamy texture due the glue suspending the foam. It is a really amazing and fun medium to use.  It is important to mix the ingredients as close to the time you are using it as possible as the foam settles over time.

They were provided colored sprinkles and glitter to decorate their cakes if they choose.
I even made a icing bag out of a ziploc. They could pipe on white "icing" mixture for an added detail.

Here are some of the results...

How sweet are these cakes!? The students were so proud of their sculptures. They were engaged throughout the whole process and were eager to make their own cake the "most delicious" looking. The younger students would comment about how real they looked and asked when they could make one.

Upon reflection, I found that the students appreciated learning about creating sculptures. Most of their previous knowledge of sculpture was based in using clay. I believe tagboard is an affordable and useful medium for teaching students about construction techniques. They learned how to use implied and actual texture in one artwork as well which is a Washington state art standard for a 5th grader.

I don't know about you, but I want some cake!

Thanks for reading!