Time Duration: 1 class period
Unit Title: Sculpture
Lesson Title: Modeling, Carving, Casting, and Assembling
Objectives of Lesson
Upon completion of this lesson, students should be able to:
1. Describe the processes of modeling, carving, casting, and assembling.
2. Identify tools and techniques used in executing these processes.
3. Define kinetic art.
1. Student Sketchbook, drawing pencil, and eraser.
2. Examples of sculptures.
Instructional Procedure with Approximate Time Line
1. Anticipatory Set (2 minutes)
Artists use a variety of different processes or techniques to create sculptures from the
materials they choose. These processes include modeling, carving, casting, and
2. Modeling (10 minutes)
Modeling is a process in which a soft, pliable material is built up and shaped. The artist
uses a material such as clay, wax, or plaster. Because the sculptor gradually adds more
and more material to build a three-dimensional form, modeling is referred to as an additive
With most modeled sculpture the artist finds it necessary to begin by constructing an
armature or support system of some kind. Usually made of metal, the armature provides
the support needed as the artist builds the sculpture around it.
3. Carving (10 minutes)
Carving is cutting or chipping a form from a given mass of material to create a sculpture.
Unlike modeling, which is an additive technique, carving is subtractive. Material is
removed until the sculpture is completely exposed.
Stone carving is a process that has changed little over the centuries. In fact, even the tools
remain essentially the same today as in ancient times. First, a pointed instrument, much
like a large, heavy pencil, is used to cut the general outline of the sculpture to about an inch
from the desired surface. A variety of flat-toothed chisels are then selected to cut away
more stone, gradually revealing the finished form. Finally, flat chisels are used to cut to
the final surface of the work. If a highly polished surface is desired, the sculptor will rub
several abrasive stones over its surface. These stones become finer and finer, smoothing
the surface giving it a warm luster.
Modern stone carvers follow this same process but make use of power tools to cut away
excess material and to polish finished works. This makes the carving process faster, but in
no way minimizes its challenges. Despite its hardness, stone can be broken, leaving the
artist with little more than the shattered pieces of a dream to show for hours of hard work.
Every stone has its own unique character, and the artist must take this into consideration
when deciding upon the right one for his sculpture. Marble is often selected because it
offers a variety of colors and interesting patterns. It can also be polished to a glasslike
surface, or left rough and heavily textured. An example is Michelangelos David.
Different textured surfaces can also be realized in another favorite material of sculptors -
wood. For thousands of years woodcarvers have turned to this medium for its warmth,
color, and grain (show examples of Hawaiian sculptures).
4. Casting (10 minutes)
In casting, a melted-down metal or other liquid substance is poured into a mold to harden.
This method allows the artist to duplicate an original sculpture done in wax, clay, plaster,
or some other material. The technique is practiced today much as it has been for hundreds
of years. Basically the process goes:
Casting offers several advantages to the sculptor, not the least of which is the opportunity
to work with a soft, pliable medium to create the original sculpture. By casting, an artist
also has the opportunity to make multiple versions of the original.
5. Assembly (10 minutes)
In the process of assembly, the artist gathers and joins together a variety of different
materials to construct a three-dimensional work of art. Unlike the other sculpture
processes, assembly is a modern technique (show example of Marisol).
Women and Dog, Marisol
Kinetic art is a sculptural form that actually moves in space. This movement continually
changes the shapes and forms that have been assembled to make up the sculpture.
Movement can be caused by such forces as wind, jets of water, electric motors, or the
actions of the viewer (show example of mobile).
Interior, East Wing of the National Gallery of Art, I.M. Pei
6. Closure (2 minutes)
Todays sculptors, given the advantage of new materials and processes, are creating
artworks that go beyond the wildest dreams of artists just generations ago. No one can
predict what the sculptures of the future will look like. One thing we do know is that they
will continue to record the full range of human experience in ways that are sometimes
shocking, sometimes touching, but always exciting to see, to touch, and to experience.