Term: 4 Year: 2012

Constructed Insect Models

The 3D art electives at Yarra Hills SC are becoming increasingly popular with our Year 9 and 10 students. The semester one focus for the class was construction; forms built using a variety of materials.

Initially the students studied engineering and construction techniques, we looked at architectural forms and explored how the development of materials and skills impacted the look of the structure. During the term groups were asked to make presentations on specific architectural materials and styles, the results included Stonehenge, St Basils in Moscow and the Eiffel Tower.

The practical part of the course was to be based around Insects as the rigid exoskeletons and angular shapes really lend themselves to the materials. The students created mind maps in their visual diaries exploring the visual characteristics of insects. At this point some discovered that other creatures (crabs/lobsters) had similar shapes, this led to an entirely different range of creatures including arachnids, centipedes and slugs and snails. Students were encouraged to use the mind map to select several of the creatures that they felt had the most potential and download a range of images. Sketches were developed and anatomy discussed as they looked for a characteristic pose, they chose their best design and then we puzzled through the construction planning process.

The materials I picked for this piece were fairy floss sticks, matchsticks and hot glue guns (the quick setting nature of the glue is vital), strict safety guidelines were enforced as the hot glue is VERY hot. Some basic skills were shown as a demonstration and students were given the opportunity to play with the capabilities of the materials.

Each piece needed to be individually considered and designed; insects were constructed in three parts, often from panels, while others were constructed as frames and covered in matchsticks, a simplified body shape was carefully considered. Students were challenged by the need to make curves from straight materials and balancing aesthetics with strength, legs threw up some questions in terms of proportion and weight bearing ability. The earlier architecture theory tasks shed some light on possible solutions. Fine anatomic details were made with Paper Magiclay, paper balls, armature wire and acetate sheets.

Once the pieces were finished students has to look at the options for displaying their work, they ended up stuck to ceilings and walls, flying through the air and suspended from fishing line webs.

On finishing students completed a self evaluation discussing successes and difficulties, challenges and solutions as well as an overall judgement. This project takes a full term to complete but its success can be judged by the enthusiasm of the students and their pride in the wonderful sculptures they created.

Ian George
Yarra Hills Secondary College
Mt Evelyn and Cambridge Rd campuses
Suitable for Level 6