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Art teachers were STEAM-ing before STEAM was cool!

Monday, February 4, 2013

Creeped Out in NH

I have realized two things this morning:

1. It is very disturbing to have a life size plaster model of your child lying on your dining room table.
2. I have a SERIOUSLY messed-up sense of humor. So much so, that this morning I sent two of my kids off to school a wee bit disturbed...

Model Son wearing Real Son's favorite hat...

My son, who is 10, loves to do projects for school--it is where he truly shines. He loves to come up with very elaborate ways to express his ideas and this creative thinking has caused us to explore all sorts of techniques that I probably wouldn't have thought to do with him: papier mache, carving styrofoam, soldering, cutting marshmallow Peeps (that's another story). Allowing creative freedom has its drawbacks, too. His model of the ocean floor cost about $50 to make even with coupons and discounts and some creative scrounging on mom's part. But, I want to encourage that creativity--it's great for him to craft something himself and make something he is proud of (and, who knows, he might become a model maker for George Lucas someday!).

Anyhoo, on to freaking out my kids...so I was worried when he came home the other day and said he said he had to create a 3D model of the human respiratory system. He had ideas. He wanted to sculpt the entire torso. He wanted it full size. He wanted it to be Model Magic (YIKES! My wallet just has a heart attack!!). I tried to use my powers of persuasion to get him to make it smaller (read: cheaper), but he said "no." He realized that creating a full size human form and then "cutting it in half and scooping out the insides" was going to be wasteful. I finally suggested paster tape--the stuff they used to use to make casts for broken arms in the "olden days." I explained the process and he was intrigued. I was worried.

We did some research on the how-to's and while he watched the Super Bowl last night, I layered the strips on him (I wanted him to do ALL the work originally and use a sibling as a model, but my little ones weren't into it and it was probably for the best--1st son says it was cold and freaky being in the plaster. However he did layer on the 2nd layer of strips and do all the art direction (which is hard to do when your face is covered in plaster strips).

But, I have to tell you, I was completely unprepared for the feelings I felt seeing my child in a full body cast...as I layered the strips up his torso and onto his head and face I felt so sad. We were laughing and giggling, but inside I was conflicted. So strange. The strange feelings were even more pronounced when we removed the cast. I cannot begin to describe the weirdness of seeing a life-size model of your child lying on the floor, or, as it is now, lying on the dining room table. Very strange.

It wasn't until this morning, when my son and I were discussing the weirdness of it all, that I revealed my creepy side. I told him that I should have taken his iPod and snapped pictures of the model doing all sorts of things around the house: watching TV, wearing my son's mohawk winter hat, driving the car--I just couldn't stop myself--I rattled off a list of things that Model Son and I would do while Real Son was at school. I realized the creepiness when Real Son looked at me with one eyebrow raised...he was laughing, but in that "if-I-humor-her-maybe-she'll-stop" kind of way.

I later related the story to son #2 and he also was a little wary. Especially when I told him I thought it would be funny to paint the model with glow in the dark paint and hang it upside down in his closet to scare to bejeebies out of him at night. Seriously, that would be AWESOME!!

So, when I get the calls from the school counselors today I will know why, but I think I'll let my husband talk with them. I think I might make the situation even worse!

Model Son, do you want to watch Downton Abbey? Hmmm?
I'll take your silence for a "yes."

4 comments:

  1. You've got me giggling! I should say, umteen years ago, we actually made full body casts of a (then) boyfriend and myself. I dressed up the one of me, and she lived in my art room for several years. Creepy. And when I moved to a new town, and pulled these bodies out of the back of the U-Haul, I got strange looks from my new neighbors. Oh, the things we do when we are young. Sadly, the casts were ditched many years ago, before I met my hubby. He might not have appreciated them.

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  2. We experienced this similar sort of effect last year when we did packing tape sculptures!!! For the time we had them stored in the classroom (while they were being worked on) it always seemed like there were just weird bodies laying around. And then when we placed each of the different sculptures? Well... that was even creepier because I was constantly forgetting that we had done it and then I would walk in a part of the campus I normally don't go and would come upon it and I would just about have a heart attack EVERY. SINGLE. TIME.

    Apart from all of the above, I so appreciate your creative and creation adventures beyond the classroom. There is nothing more fulfilling than creating things at home with my daughter and helping her to indulge her curiosities as much as I can help it. Our newest endeavor is going to be in the realm of designing and creating doll clothes and furniture because she is so into dolls lately.

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  3. I love this idea and my daughter would like to give it a try for her respiratory system project. How do you get the body cast off of your model? Also, is it cut in half and then attached to the board? Any advice would b much appreciated as I am not too artsy.

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  4. Hi WG! The model needs to have a generous coat of petroleum jelly on his or her skin to keep the mold from sticking to the body. My son was shirtless, but you could put on an old, snug-fitting tank top that you don't mind sacrificing (the plaster will never come out). The strips are layered on only on half of the body--have your daughter lay on her back and once you get to covering her sides, just go straight down and not underneath her (that would make the piece very hard to remove if it goes around to her back. You can also remove the plaster cast once it has set and then lay it on the table and add plaster strips that come down and touch the table surface. This will give you some way to attach the piece to the display board. I had my son add those pieces since he had been removed from the mold and wanted to work with the plaster strips himself. My husband helped my son cut the square in the chest cavity as seen in the related post. If you aren't handy or don't have the proper tools for this, you may want to layer the strips so there is a hole in that area when you begin. Then you don't have to worry about that later on. Or your daughter could just paint on the details of the lungs, etc. Good luck! Let me know how it goes--send me some pics at bpettus02@gmail.com. I'd love to see it! Take care, Mrs. P

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