Set a child in motion and there’s no turning back.
Eliza and I have been doing art together since she was 3 years old. In the beginning, whenever she got her hands sticky with glue or she was splotched with paint, all artistic activity came to a halt. After many, many baby wipes and much positive reassurance, a few key ideas became ingrained… Art is Messy, and (much to Nana’s chagrin) That’s why they make washing machines!!
By the time she was four, she was doing art projects independently as ‘surprises’ for the people she loved; drawings, collages, mixed-media works on paper. Lately, she’s been exploring her inner Jackson Pollock. So it came as no surprise, that after a week in the country… and a little help from the Grandparents… she returned with a kinetic sculpture any Alexander Calder fan would envy.
(did I mention he’s one of my favorite artists?!)
As I helped her reassemble the sculpture in the garden, she filled me in on the creative process:
The goal was to make a gift for her father’s birthday, so she applied the disciplinary planning techniques she acquired in art class last year and started with some sketches. After showing them to her Grandparents, they brainstormed about materials, then got to work.
The base was removed from a fallen tree in the yard, and shallow holes were drilled into the top. (Yes, adult help!!) Then came the first tedious part for her: rubbing oil into the wood. She emphasized how many applications it took to get a smooth sheen and bring out the rings. Afterward, she carved her name into the stump with a pointy object with a handle… sounds like an awl to me!
Next, she straightened the galvanized steel wire by banging it with a mallet. Another difficult step, she said. Then the wire was cut into six pieces, about 3ft each in length, bent by hand into a hook shape, and inserted into the holes in the stump.
The colorful moving shapes were cut from plastic school folders. She made a paper template for each shape, traced and cut them out, then popped a hole in the top with a hole puncher.
I helped her attach the shapes to the wire. We decided on thread, since it ties tight and is practically invisible (besides we didn’t have any fishing wire)!
The end result was exactly what she wanted.. a stunning sculpture that moves naturally.
Keep moving and check out these links..