Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Sculpting with Plastic Bags -- It happened here!

Sculpting with Plastic Bags

this lens' photo
Artist Gray Wise looked at the palm frond his friend gave him. Ah, a mermaid's tail! Dipping into his stash of plastic bags, he started taping and taping, and by the end of the morning, his mermaid had emerged. She's quite light and quite sturdy, and he's sold hundreds like her. Also turtles, lizards, frogs... you name it. A kind and generous guy, he paid a visit to my library last week and showed the kids how to work the magic.

He even brought his own bags of garbage.
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A Pile of Trash

We adults looked around and choked. The kids each had a roll of good masking tape and a pile of garbage. As parents and educators, we had doubts. We’d never seen our kids transform garbage into art objects before, and we didn’t think it would happen now.
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A cat emerges

Sarah’s smart. She starts small and in no time is pinching out the shape of a rather adorable cat. She’ll take it home and paint it later. Gray’s recipe is to paint the whole with a quick coat of black (spray) paint, and then add layers on top of that, building up color by color on top to create a plausible whole. A spray sealant goes on top.

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So remember this technique at Halloween: Spiders, hands, well, limbs in general, cats — they’re all waiting to be twisted into shape, right there in your garbage can. The basic shape is made first, and the long legs are taped on. Made one too long? Cut it off. Too short? Tape on some more.
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Of course the boys wanted to make sharks. Gray advised using cardboard (cereal cardboard, stiff but easy to work with and — yes, garbage) to make the fins. That’s what he makes his angel wings with.

I brought in a sample of my extensive button collection and the kids used those as eyeballs and noses.
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A Cat

“What are you making?” I asked Grace at the beginning. “A cat.” “Riiiiiiight,” I thought. A cat. But sure enough, by the end of the hour, she had produced a cat. It almost looked like it was sitting and looking out the window at the squirrels. Gray suggested that she rob her mother’s broom at home for a few whiskers to finish it off.

The creations the kids made, lizards, spiders, cats, rabbits, turtles and tigers, were all completely different. Gray’s technique looks terrific with little detail, the face just a modernistic suggestion. Every child, even the six-year-olds succeeded in creation, leaving with a feeling that they had done well.

And it was free. Better than free; it transformed garbage into something beautiful.

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