Friday, April 17, 2009

Making Faces

Here are the basic steps to sculpting a face using any kind of media that allows you to build a sculpture instead of carve it. Be forewarned that I know diddlysquat about clay and just used air dry modeling clay yesterday with the kids at school. . . I wasn't about to take my big girl torch to school and be the volunteer who set something afire, LOL. The clay faces everyone made may or may not hold up, but everyone stretched their imagination and worked their fingers and funny bones! I did let the 7th and 8th graders experiment with melting glass stringers with a candle flame, and everyone tried rotating a glob of honey on the end of a straw to simulate melting glass on a mandrel in the flame. The favorite art quote was definitely Michelangelo's "I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free." My favorite question of the day came from a kindergarten kiddo who was fascinated with the whole glass bead thing. Logan kept asking me throughout the class, "But when are you going to change the clay into glass??"
Step 1: Keep in mind the basic proportions of a face. This guideline is used by artists who draw people and characters. We tested this guideline by running a finger from one of our ears to the other, and the kids were amazed to find that the bottom of their noses fell right along that line. The reason I try to remember this guideline, even though you can look at all my glass faces and see that I never get it right, is that it's a reference point. For instance, when I'm wondering where to place the ears along the side of a face, I remember, "Oh, yeah, the tops of the ears usually start around the same area as the eyebrows, and the bottom of the ears line up with the bottom of the nose."
Step 2: Roll your material into a big ball (or make a big bead on the mandrel), then flatten it into a tab shape.

Step 3: Add a ball of material for each cheek, making sure to smooth it into the face to create cheekbones. Add a cigar shape that's fatter at the lower end to make your nose. If you like nostrils for the nose, you can push the material inward at an angle towards the cheek. You can also add a small ball of material on each side of the bottom of the nose, blending and shaping it into flared nostrils.

Step 4: Add eyes, either by adding and shaping another ball of material or by making a crease above the apple of the cheek to represent the eyes.

Step 5: Make a football shape of material for the mouth. Blend it into the face, and then shape the lips by making a crease across the middle of the football. If you want a bigger smile, push the lower lip downward into a U shape.

Step 6: Add hair or ears or whatever floats your boat! My favorite additions made by kids yesterday included pigtails and feathers to make an Indian chief (we are the Irvington Indians).

MOST IMPORTANT RULE: Rules are meant to be considered and then broken when necessary! My favorite rule-breaking yesterday came from a sixth grader who made a Cyclops instead of a face with two eyes :)


rosebud101 said...

Ang, that is a great tutorial! I'm sure the kids had a great time making faces!

Deb said...

Ang - you almost make me want to go back to school!

This is a fabulous tutorial. It sounds as though the kids had fun & were most engrossed in the process.

"But when are you going to change the clay into glass??" - I love Logan! When I used to parent help at school - it was the questions like that, asked in all sincerity.... that made me appreciate the true innocence of children & their wonder at the world. It'd bring a smile to my face that would last all day.