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Design: the parts and the whole — chapter 16 – mass and 3D design




Shape exists in two-dimensions, height and width.  Mass exists in three-dimensions, height, width and depth. Mass can be understood as a three-dimensional extension of shape, as a cube (mass) is the three-dimensional equivalent of a square (shape).

Mass is sometimes used as a synonymous term for form. Form is a word that has an abundance of meanings in the artworld. The following are some of the meanings applied to form; 1. the underlying structure of composition in a work; 2. the shape or outline of something; 3. the essence of a work of art – its medium or mode of expression; 4. the substance of something, as in “solid or liquid form” (Bevlin 411); 5. the arbitrary organization or inventive arrangement of all the visual elements according to principles that will develop organic unity in the total work of art: the total organization or a work of art (Ocvirk et al., 282); 6. the shape or structure of a thing as opposed to its matter or substance. In the arts, the term is used broadly as a synonym for design or pattern making – and includes all aspects of composition, organization, and structure (Myers 373). While there is some general consensus that form can refer to the structure of a composition, there is also a wide variety of sometimes contrasting uses. Because of this conflict I choose to rarely use the term to avoid confusion. I prefer the term mass when referring to three-dimensional qualities and term composition when referring to the structure of a work.

An illusion of mass can be created on a two- dimensional surface through means of shading and perspective as we have discussed in previous chapters. Actual mass is not an illusion; it is real. Our bodies are actual masses that exist in three-dimensional space. Mass can be experienced beyond visual sensations into the realm of tactile experience; mass can be felt as well as seen. To tacitly confront a mass confirms its reality. To touch something assures us that our sight is correct. It not only confirms the sight but adds information to the experience that cannot be gained by sight. Babies are constantly using their tactile sense to explore masses. They instinctively know that more knowledge of an object can be gained by touching it than by just seeing it (they often want to taste it as well). Unfortunately this inclination for logical information gathering is usually slapped or scolded out of the child by parents concerned for the child’s safety or the safety of knickknacks. However there are still ways in which tactile recognition of mass continues to function in human experience. In our culture the handshake is a traditional form of greeting or confirming an agreement. The physical contact of the two masses of the hands is an assurance of the reality of the situation and the two parties. It is also an assurance that one party isn’t going to punch the other – although the “power” handshake does seem to be a reminder that one individual could overpower the other if he/she wished. A step beyond the handshake is the hug. In this interaction of masses the contact is considerably more intimate. The pressing of one body against another is a confirmation not only of reality but also of an affection toward the entity that the other mass encompasses. We could continue our human mass interaction analysis to the kiss and beyond but I’m hoping for a PG rating when this book is made into a movie. My point is that with the element of mass both visual and tactile information can be communicated.


The same basic categories that were applied to shape can be applied to mass. Geometric mass basics are the cube, pyramid, and sphere. Important variations on these basic geometric masses are the cone (a triangle rotated on its axis) and the cylinder ( a rectangle or square rotated on its bisector). Geometric masses have basic visual qualities that can be generalized: a square is said to be stable and restful; a sphere – satisfying, mobile and continuing; a pyramid – enduring, solid, and stable; a cone – thrusting and unpredictable; a cylinder – utilitarian, a container for things (Bevlin 60-62).

Naturalistic and especially idealistic mass abound in the world of sculpture. The human figure is a favorite subject. The earlier discussed idealized figures of ancient Greece were the inspiration of Michelangelo’s famous sculptural works of the Italian Renaissance. But Michelangelo’s work did not simply mimic the idealism of the Greeks. His idealism created a personalized tension and power very different than the serene figures of classical Greece. In fact, he went so far in his expressive idealism to sometimes reach the point of abstraction by intentionally distorting proportions. In the Baroque period the great sculptor and architect Bernini took the idealized human mass in a different direction. Bernini’s marble figures look as if they have been carved of soap or wax – they seem so fluid and effortless. In mood they are among some of the most dramatic ever created. They function as three-dimensional equivalents to Caravaggio’s stage-illuminated painted figures. Bernini managed to capture ecstasy or determination with the skill of today’s expressive filmmakers.

In the later 20th century some remarkable examples of naturalistic mass were produced. The human figure was again the subject of John De Andrea and Duane Hansen, who produced some works of unnerving naturalism. De Andrea’s attractive nude figures, cast from life, airbrush painted, and hair implanted, can embarrass the more modest gallery guest. They are so remarkably life-like that one can feel more like a voyeur than a viewer when in their presence. Duane Hansen uses the same modern technology to produce his very everyday people. He also uses real clothing and many times adds actual objects for visual support such as shopping carts, suitcases, chairs, etc. While Hansen’s work is not embarrassing, it can still be very unsettling and thought provoking. When common objects, this time common people, become works of art and we look at them as closely as we do art, they become a new learning experience.

Abstract masses are ones that have natural subjects as the inspiration but that have been altered to suit the need of the artist. One of my favorite abstract masses takes us back again to Paleolithic times. Woman of Willendorf, as historians have called it, was produced sometime  around 30,000 BC. Four and a half inches in height, it projects a powerful image and gives an abundance of information. The huge breasts and hips suggest a very fertile female capable of success in the dangerous function of childbirth upon which the very existence of the tribe or clan depended. A surprise in the sculpture is the elaborate hair style, showing a strong interest in personal appearance and body decoration, qualities that most people don’t associate with early humans. It is speculated that this small sculpture may have been a charm, possibly something to be held during childbirth to help ensure a successful outcome. This again suggests the tactile potential of mass.

In the 1930’s French-American sculptor Gaston Lachaise created sculptures of women with a powerful fertile quality that embody some of the same qualities of the “Venus” but this time on a very different scale, usually over life-size.  Lachaise’s bulging women also strangely foreshadow the female body building craze of fifty years later. From “Venus” to today there is a multifaceted line of abstracted mass in the world of sculpture. Through history these abstractions usually followed cultural traditions that slowly evolved and changed. In the 20th century abstract mass in Western culture was given over to personal adaptation. The individual artist rather than cultural tradition determined the direction and degree of abstraction. A master of abstract mass was English sculptor Henry Moore. His varied abstract masses occupy their space with such gravity and beauty that they seem to have always been in existence. His use of negative space, which often moves through as well as around the work, had a strong influence on many sculptors.

Non-objective masses are masses that do not suggest any natural mass. In sculpture the use of non-objective mass is a relatively modern innovation, but the power of non-objective mass has a very long history. One of the most stupendous examples goes back about 5,000 years. The great pyramids of ancient Egypt are stunning examples of non-objective (and geometric) mass. They can be considered architectural because of their function as tombs, but in reality that was a minor function in terms of structural necessity. The huge masses were built as an expression of power, spirituality, and importance far beyond a pile of rocks over a grave.

Henry Moore’s work often left the realm of abstraction and became non-objective, even though it still had organic qualities. Mass that is non-objective but still captures a sense of life is sometimes called biomorphic mass. Jean Arp’s swelling masses are prime examples of biomorphic mass; they seem to pulse with life and the marble appears to warm if touched. Japanese- American Isamu Noguchi is, in my opinion, a genius of non- objective mass. His work is the embodiment of integrity. His deep awareness and respect for his materials leads to sculptures of near magical beauty and dignity. Using non-objective mass, Noguchi has the power to express qualities, and to evoke feelings in the receptive viewer that would be impossible with a recognizable subject.


Materials for producing mass range from the traditional wood, stone, glass, clay, and bronze to more recent materials such as plastics and modern metals. Every material has its own characteristics and requires knowledge, skills and experience to produce the desired results. The designer needs to be familiar with the various strong and weak points of materials to make the right decisions. A sculpture requiring small, delicate projectiles might not be well suited for stone carving; instead, cast metal or plastic might be a better choice.

There are four primary technical methods for producing mass. Each has its advantages and disadvantages:

1. Subtraction: In this process the artist removes material to create the final product. Commonly a block of wood or stone is carved. This may involve the age-old process of the artist with chisel and hammer.  But with modern technology, more often it involves a wide variety of mechanized tools including power chisels, saws, grinders, sanders, and polishers. The marks made by the tools of the process can be smoothed and hidden, or the artist can utilize them as part of the surface quality.

2. Manipulation: This process is commonly called modeling. Clay and wax are the two dominant materials of manipulation techniques. Because they are pliable, the artist can shape and change them at will. The material can be applied piece by piece, or the artist can start with a larger mass and carve away some parts while adding to others. A wide variety of tools can be used to manipulate the surface; sticks, wires, water (in the case of clay), and heat (in the case of wax) can all shape the material to the desired mass. Many times the most important tools in manipulation are the human fingers themselves. The pliable material shaped and formed by the artist’s hands creates a very personalized production technique, and sometimes the physical hand markings are left as visible evidence of the artist’s involvement in the process.

3. Addition: Addition involves the joining of materials. This can involve pliable materials or rigid material or both. The process can involve gluing, welding, soldering, stapling, bolting, screwing, nailing, riveting, wiring, binding, or tying.  The materials can be a varied as the joining processes: wood, metal, concrete, plastics, fabrics, plaster, found objects, and many others. The addition process is limited only by the imagination of the artist.

4. Substitution: A common term for this process is casting (Ocvirk et al., 188-89). There are a multitude of variations on this process, each adapted to certain materials and desired outcomes. In most cases there are a series of basic phases – (a) an original model/mass is produced using the manipulation process, usually in wax or clay; (b) a mold, usually plaster or ceramic, is made from the original; (c) the original modeled work is removed from the mold leaving a negative cavity of the original; (d) a liquid which will solidify – bronze, iron, aluminum, plastic, plaster, or others is poured into the mold; (e) after the liquid material has solidified, the mold is removed; (f) there is usually much work to be done on the cast mass, such as sanding, grinding, and polishing. With its complex methods we might assume that casting is a relatively modern technique, but that is not the case. Substitution methods date to very early human cultures who cast copper, bronze and iron.  This is where the terms “Bronze Age” and “Iron Age” originate. The stimulus for the development of this technology was not the arts; the stimulus was primarily the production of weapons.

These four main categories of mass production do not always exist independently; they are sometimes combined to fit the designer’s needs.


Our general conception of mass is a static material that stays in one place. Yet nature provides many examples of dynamic mass. The billows of visible moisture we call clouds provide a wonderful variety of masses in a state of constant transformation as temperature and air currents move them about. These usually passive and tranquil masses can transform into the most terrifying and destructive of nature’s masses, the tornado. Another of nature’s moving masses, the wave, has this same dualistic quality. From gentle ripples in a pond to fifty foot tidal waves, this mass of moving water has a tremendous range of physical and expressive qualities.

We are one of nature’s masses that move. This a fact that certainly hasn’t been overlooked in the arts. Dance is an area of human expression that may be the earliest of all arts. The potential of using the body to express emotions and ideas has been found in nearly every culture: tribal dance, social dance, religious dance, aerobic dance, ballet, modern dance, and on and on.

Another artistically important aspect of the human body as a mass is the drive of humans to decorate their bodies. Again, this goes back to the earliest of pre-historic human times. Evidence of people painting their bodies with colored clays is one of the earliest documented acts of art. There has not been a break in the tradition since then. When body decoration is discussed many people automatically think of African scarification, or Melanesian tattooing, or Native American face and body painting, all of which are fascinating examples. Body decoration is also very much a part of our culture as well. The female use of make-up is nothing less than body painting . The recent tattooing fad is leaving innumerable and many times poorly designed images permanently affixed to the skin of our youth. The use of jewelry by both sexes is body decoration, as is hair styling. So is the entire concept of fashion clothing. We are very involved in body decoration. It performs numerous functions beyond warmth and protection: attracting sexual partners, declaring social standing, giving personal satisfaction, stimulating areas of the economy.


Mass in art immediately brings to mind sculpture, but that is only one of many kinds of mass in the larger world of art. Architecture, furniture design, glasswork, metal work, ceramics, fiber art, and the extremely varied world of commercial product design are all areas in which mass is a primary element. A glance around your immediate environment will probably expose a multitude of designed objects: chairs, tables, lights, clocks, radios, televisions, cups , and so on. All were designed by someone – for better or worse. A dominant designed mass in our culture is the automobile. This transportation vehicle has gone through a bewildering number of design changes in a relatively short time. The changes have been made for functional, decorative, and marketing reasons. The boxy original design of the Model T Ford went through a long and varied streamlining trend, reaching a peak of smooth air-swept lines in the 1950’s and 1960’s. Then in the 1970’s the process reversed itself and designs started to take on more angular, boxy lines again.  This was partially caused by some manufacturers attempting to imitate the German luxury car, the Mercedes Benz. In 1986 Ford introduced its new Taurus line. This extremely streamlined design reversed the trend dramatically back to streamlining. The reversal was so complete that the Mercedes actually started to look like the Ford. In the mid 1990’s Ford once again took a chance and super-streamlined the new Taurus. The result was an echo of the 1980’s with most manufacturers scrambling to imitate the design. Now in the early 21st Century we are beginning to see more angularity returning to auto design.

Because it functions in a three-dimensional world, mass is involved in every aspect of our lives. After all, we are masses ourselves.  Many people in our culture, obsessed with this reality, compulsively try to find and maintain what they consider the ideal mass for the human body. The widespread growth in popularity of body building during the 1980’s was a symbolic phenomenon for the decade: drive to shape the human body into masses of mostly non-functional muscles to conform to a strange, distorted sense of beauty. Such narcissistic (me first – and maybe only me) behavior dominated the decade in social, political, and economic arenas.

Another preoccupation with the human mass is the concern for thinness and dieting. While there are very good health reasons for maintaining a sensible weight, many people seem preoccupied with looking “right” as dictated by the advertising and entertainment industries. As a result, people who are obese because of genetic differences in their metabolism are often cruelly ostracized and ridiculed in our society. Another serious result of the media-enforced drive for irrational thinness is the far too common eating disorders found in teenage and college-age women.


Much of the information studied thus far in this text concerning the elements and principles of two-dimensional design apply equally to three-dimensional design. But there is a very important, transforming addition in the conversion to the third-dimension — depth.


Three-dimensional design many times suggests full sculptural mass, objects “in the round.” But in actuality there are many degrees of three-dimensions.  These degrees range from low relief to works that completely surround us.  Three-dimensional work can be grouped into the following categories:


In this type of design the three-dimensional masses are raised from a flat background. Some scholars believe the earliest relief carvings were produced when humans noticed protrusions and bulges on stone walls that reminded them of animals. They then used their tools to expand the illusion and make the images even more visible. It may have been a kind of very early enhanced “found art.”

The shallowest type of relief that creates a subtle breaking of the third dimension is called low relief or bas-relief. There are many varying levels of low relief but it generally signifies a relief that still has a considerable look of flatness. Some of the most accomplished low relief sculptures date back to the ancient kingdoms of Egypt and Assyria. The relief were used to document the traditions, ceremonies and power of the ruling class and above all to record the bloody wars that made them wealthy empires.

From low relief the degree of three-dimensions continues to grow until it reaches high relief where the masses are nearly in the round but are still attached to a flat base. During the Italian Renaissance tremendously skillful relief sculpture was produced that many times incorporated the entire range of relief from very low, subtle relief to suggest distance, to very high relief with some figures projecting nearly to the full round. The massive bronze doors created by Lorenzo Ghiberti for the Bapistery in Florence are an outstanding example of the fluidity this technique can produce. An example of medium to high relief would be the mind-boggling Hindu Temples of India where the entire exterior and interior surfaces are covered with carved imagery of gods, goddesses, demons, and animals representing aspects of the symbolically rich Hindu religion.


This type of three-dimensional work is not confined to a flat ground, but is still designed to be seen from one side only. One-sided works are often called frontal works. The masses may be created in the full round, but due to the way they are presented, they can be seen only from one direction.  The great pediment sculpture from the temples of ancient Greece fit into this category. Carved fully in the round, they were designed to fit in the strange squat triangle of the pediment to be seen only from the front and from ground level. A more contemporary example can be found in some of the assemblage work of Edward Kienholz. His often disturbing configurations of objects from everyday life, cast figures, and photographs are sometimes presented in such a way as to be seen only from one direction.


When an artist designs in the full round, the work is produced to be seen and experienced from all possible angles. This is a challenging problem in that the shifting relations of mass and space must be considered from every position around the work. This gives sculpture in the round the quality of adding sequence and time to the experience of viewing the piece. To fully appreciate the work the viewer needs to move around the mass or masses studying the relations of the elements and their changing visual impact.

The history of art abounds with wonderful examples of this type of design and a work that is one of my favorites is Rodin’s The Burgers of Calais. Moving around this work is a true aesthetic experience of mass, space, texture, and emotion — an experience that cannot even be guessed at through viewing two-dimensional reproductions of the sculpture.


In this type of three-dimensional design the viewer is actually surrounded by the work. The viewer is in and is a part of the three-dimensional environment created by the artist or designer. Installation artists of late 20th century have created gallery situations where the viewer became part of the design. Jonathan Borofsky produced environments that included wall paintings, sculpture, and games and activities for the viewer to participate in. His works utilized floors, ceilings wall, and all the spaces in between. In a more traditional sense architecture and interior design are the essence of creating walk-through three-dimensional space. They create the three-dimensional spaces in which we live, work and play. (Zelanski & Fisher II, 11-18)


Three-dimensional space brings us out of the world of height, width and illusion and into the world of actual space, space of physical realities: height and width, but now also physical depth. This is the space in which we as human beings exist. As three-dimensional creatures we move through this trio of dimensions as our environment. In designing, the addition of depth creates not simply one more factor to consider but the necessity of thinking three-dimensionally. In creating a sculpture or any other object of three dimensions, the mind must always think all the way around the object, from all angles, considering the mass, texture, and space. As in two-dimensional design, the concepts of positive and negative space apply equally in the world in three dimensions. The positive masses of an object carve out negative spaces around the object. A major difference with the added dimension is that boundaries for the negative space (such as the paper edges in 2-D) do not usually exist in the third dimension. A second difference is that the negative spaces change as the viewer moves around the object; from each new viewing position a new relationship exists between negative spaces and positive masses. A master of the use of negative space was the twentieth century metal sculptor David Smith. Many of his works use negative space as a dominant element, and viewers are given tremendous variety as they move around the sculptures. Smith’s works in the full round could be considered existing in open space as there are no perimeters around the masses of the work; they carve out delineated spaces that then merge with the open space around them. A sculpture that consciously works to produce delineated (negative) spaces that are interesting in shape and that undergo continual transformation as the viewer moves around the mass, can be a very enjoyable part of the aesthetic experience. The mobiles of Alexander Calder are fine examples of open space being carved into interesting delineated shapes that not only change when the viewer moves but also change when air currents of the room move them.

Confined space is a very different three-dimensional space from open space. The confined space to be designed is set within clearly defined boundaries and does not continue into the surroundings of the sculpture. The scale of the confined space can vary greatly, from the entire interior space of a gallery, such as in the Borofsky example cited earlier, to the inside of a 13″ X 9″ X 4″ box as designed by Joseph Cornell. Cornell, mentioned earlier in the text in relation to unity and variety, was an artist who created very personal space within the small confined areas of his wooden boxes.  His perplexing but deftly designed three-dimensional spaces are masterful arrangement of the elements of design.

(Zelanski & Fisher II, 104-5)


We are inclined to think of line two-dimensionally, as a stoke on a piece of paper or a canvas, but line is active throughout the three-dimensional world as well. This is especially evident in nature where blades of grass, branches of bushes, and trunks and roots of trees all create an infinite variety of changes in three-dimensional line. In our man-made environments electrical and telephone poles and lines,  fences, and cables form a grid of three-dimensional lines connecting and confining our lives.  Lines have been used in three-dimensional design and sculpture in a tremendous variety of applications. Lines are very often functional masses. Many tools are linear masses shaped to perform a specific task: scissors to cut, pliers to hold, screwdrivers to turn, and so on. The natural linear qualities of wood, many times reflected in the products we make from it, can be seen in the lines of a chair, the supports of a table, or the linear skeleton of most wood-frame architecture.

Many artists have utilized linear masses in their work but none more playfully than the recently mentioned Alexander Calder. His wire sculpture of the circus world is a delightful interplay line and space, drawing with wire lines in the three-dimensional world of open space. An extremely different use of three-dimensional line is the massive, heavy of line in Robert Smithson’s Spiral Jetty. This 1500′ long, 15′ wide spiral of rock and earth extends into the Great Salt Lake of Utah (Zelanski & Fisher II, 119-22).

The quality of line reviewed in our two-dimensional study of line is equally relevant in three-dimensions. A smooth copper wire has distinctly different quality than a piece of sisal rope. The artist and designer uses both the physical textual qualities in making creative applications of the material. Lines with mass can be applied jagged, smoothly, at angles, or in rhythms to create expressive and aesthetic impact.


When working with texture in three-dimensional design the designer is working with actual texture — the real surface of the materials.  The tactile surface quality of the three-dimensional world is one of its most intriguing design possibilities. A knowledge of materials and their textural potential puts at the designer’s disposal means to produce both tremendous variety and cohesive unity.

Three-dimensional textures can be grouped into three categories: natural textures, worked textures and illusions of textures. Natural textures are the texture of materials as they are found, the natural texture of the stone, the bark on the surface of the wood, the textural quality of the feathers, the bone, the shells or the skin. Natural texture occurs when tactile surfaces are used for their original unaltered textural qualities. Worked textures are produced when a material is taken and manipulated or changed in textural qualities to suit the needs of the designer. This manipulation can be produced by carving, hammering, grinding, polishing, weaving, or other means.  Working a texture is meant to transform a texture to one more functional for the design (Zelanski & Fischer II, 135-40).  Illusions of textures are produced by taking a material and transforming its texture to appear to be something it is not; making marble have the texture of flesh, making clay appear to be leather, or making plastic feel like wood. Three-dimensional illusions of textures have long been utilized in creating naturalistic or idealistic sculptural works. With new the technologies and materials of the 20th century, illusions of  textures can be startling and very deceptive.



As in two-dimensional design, color and value in three-dimensional design are totally dependent on light. We see an object or environment only because of the light reflected from its surface. The value, lightness or darkness, of a surface has new variables in three-dimensional design due to the fact that the light is not striking the surface evenly.  The angles, curves, recessed areas, and other volumetric factors of a mass creates shadows and areas of light and dark that don’t necessarily relate to the color or texture of an object but how the light falls across the mass. The importance to an artist of the interplay of light and mass is sensitively described by the great sculptor, Barbara Hepworth:

The importance of light in relation to form will always interest me. In sculpture it seems to be an extension of sterognostic sensibility, and through it I feel it ought to be possible to induce those evocative responses that seem to be part of primeval life, and which are a vital necessity to a full apprehension of space and volume.  There is an inside and an outside to every form. When they are in special accord, as for instance a nut in its shell or when a child is in the womb, or in the structure of shells or crystals, or when one senses the architecture of the bones of the human figure, then I am most drawn to the effect of light. Every shadow cast by the sun from an ever-varying angle reveals the harmony of the inside and outside. Light gives full play to our tactile perceptions through the experience of our eyes, and the vitality of forms is revealed by the interplay between space and volume.

As Hepworth suggests, a sculpture that is placed outdoors will be seen under a tremendous variety of light qualities. Exposed to full sunlight that be in a perpetual state of change throughout the day and through each season as the sun’s position shifts in the sky.  Changes and variations in cloud cover along with other atmospheric conditions will vary the intensity and even color of the light falling on the sculpture. Natural outdoor light creates a variable lighting condition which is beyond the control of the artist but which enlarges the experience for the perceptive viewer. Artificial lighting in an indoor situation gives the artist or whoever is controlling the lighting great control over how the work will be seen by the viewer. The mood of the sculpture can be dramatically altered by position and intensity of light on the surfaces. Volumes can be enhanced or flattened by the same factors. Tension can be created and soothing washes of light can soften. The importance of the control of light on a three-dimensional design should not be underestimated.

The color concepts discussed in the previous chapter are equally applicable in the third dimension. In addition we can consider the concepts of natural and applied color. Natural color is the natural color quality of the materials chosen by the artist or designer. The natural color of the marble, the clay, the wood, or the plaster are properties that a designer might specifically select for their color qualities and work diligently to preserve and enhance as an integral part of the design. Applied color on the other hand, is color that covers or alters the natural color of the materials being used. Color may be applied over an original color for many reasons: to enhance or produce an illusion, to produce expressive qualities, to give the mass more visual strength, to decorate, to create a contrast to the surroundings of the mass, or to create areas of emphasis on the mass itself (Zelanski & Fisher 168-170).



Again, the principles of design — unity, variety, balance, emphasis, rhythm, proportion and scale — apply equally with the addition of the third dimension. The added dimension of depth adds infinite possibilities with the new variable of actual texture to create both emphasis and variety and unifying patterns and rhythms. The physical reality of mass adds the real interplay of light over the volumes of the structure. All the elements and principles of design create a dance of composition in three dimensions as they did in two dimensions only with more depth.


materials: 1″ X 6″ pine, foamboard, (supplied by materials fee) Elmer’s glue, found objects,  acrylic paint.

objective: to create a painted assemblage of found objects within a confined space with carefully  arranged elements and principles of design. The assemblage is to be your personal interpretation of the assigned theme.


1. Cut the pine into two 14″ and two 10″ lengths, assemble into a box, and attach the 11 1/2″ X 14″ foamboard  back.

2. Collect a variety of interestingly shaped objects that relate to the theme and will interestingly break up the interior space of the box.

3. Arrange the objects in the box taking into account all the basic considerations of design such as balance, unity and variety, emphasis and proportion.

4. Use the acrylic paint to help unify the composition with a color scheme that works with the theme or  direction of the work. Paint the objects and box  interior and exterior before gluing the objects in the box.

5. Place your name legibly on the bottom outer edge of the box.

6. We will assemble all our boxes together to form one large sculpture for public display.


materials: air dry clay,  2″ X 4″ wood, sandpaper (supplied by the materials fee), acrylic paint, brushes, etc.

objective: to create four progressive sculptures using the same subject as inspiration: one naturalistic, one semi-abstract, one very abstract, and one non-objective.


1. Decide on a subject. It must be something that you can acquire as an actual three-dimensional model to work from: part of a person, an interestingly shaped  vegetable, a natural object that is recognizable (not an already produced sculpture – no working from photos). It also needs  to be a mass you can construct with the clay with a minimal armature. It should be a mass that has interesting 3D qualities form all angles.

2. With the clay sculpt as naturalistic as possible a reproduction of your object. Apply as much accurate detail as possible; use any small sticks or improvised  tools you wish to help detail and texture the clay.

3. Decide on a direction of abstraction for your natural mass. It could be geometric, rounded, simplified, distorted, or any other direction you wish. It is to be an  abstraction and not a metamorphosis. The second  sculpture should have a semi-abstract appearance — you should be able to easily know what the natural mass  source was. The third sculpture is to take the abstract  direction even further. The original subject should still be a bit discernible. The fourth sculpture takes  the abstraction direction to such a degree that the sculpture is non-objective — the subject matter of the original work should no longer be visible.

4. Let the clay dry (we will do the wire sculpture while it is drying). Then paint all four sculptures with acrylic paint. Consider having your color abstract along with your mass.

5. Label the bottom or side of the bases with your name.


materials: flexible wire, 2″ X 6″ pine, sand paper, white spray paint, (provided by your materials fee) acrylic paint, brushes, etc.

objective: to create a sculptural mass of wire depicting human or animal mass.


1. Decide on a subject matter — it may be human or animal subject matter; it may be a part of human anatomy. Animals may defined broadly to include insect and sea life. The subject should be one that will shape the space interestingly from all directions.

2. Design your sculpture to take full advantage of open space, creating and carving interesting negative space.  Also consider the mass / space relationship from all  angles.

3. The sculpture may not exceed 12″ in any direction.

4. Drill holes in the areas of the wood base where the wire will be anchored. Turn, twist, and spiral the wire into masses to create the volume of the subject you have chosen.

5. Spray the completed wire sculpture with white spray paint (use the spray booth), then paint sculpture with acrylic paint – enhancing the subject and the linear quality of the work with your choice of color. Paint the wood base.

6. Place your name on the side or bottom of the base.

PROJECT #26: FINAL PROJECT (two options)

option #1: GAME DESIGN

materials: optional to suit your needs and acrylic paint

objective: to combine the concepts of chapters 15 & 16 in a game design


1. Review chapters 15 & 16, brainstorm ideas of how some of the concepts could be combined into a game format. You need not use all the concepts of both chapters but  you must use numerous ideas from both. The project must  have advanced color concepts and it must have some  three-dimensional components. Make lists of ideas. Draw  thumbnail sketches. Make quick  mock-ups of ideas to see how they will work.  Experiment.

2. The game may be focused toward children or adults. It should be designed with a specific age group in mind.

3. Any materials may be employed that are needed to develop your idea. All color work is to be done with acrylic paint.

4. The game format could be a kind of board game with 3D elements, a piece type game (like dominos), a building  game (like legos with a goal),  a puzzle like game  (like a rubic cube), or some other type, but it must be a game.

5. All elements of the game must be very well crafted by yourself and design considerations must extend to all components of  the game.

6. All game components must be presented in a well suited and prepared container.

7. The game must be titled and accompanied by a typed or word processed list of directions, rules, and  regulation on how to play the game.  These directions  must clear and easy to understand and with very few typos, spelling, and grammar errors.

  1. 8.    Each student will set up their game and present it to the class and explain the game directions.


Materials: to suit your needs & acrylic paint

Objective: to combine the concepts of chapters 15 and 16 into a creative painted sculpture (with box, wire, and clay elements)

1.The box element may be single or multiple. Attachments may be on the  outside as well as the inside. The wire and clay elements may be as     dominant or recessive as the student wishes. Other mixed media may be added as well. All elements and surfaces must be painted with acrylic  paint.

2. The size of the finished sculpture is up to the student (remember, the  larger the more expensive)

3. The content of the sculpture may be thematic, storytelling, naturalistic, ealistic, abstract, or non-objective (remember, do not let the content of  the sculpture override the design of the work)

4. The project must clearly express the majority of concepts in both   chapters 15 &16. The student will write a statement explaining the relationship of the chapters’ concepts to the sculpture.

5. The student will present the piece to the class, read their statement,  and answer questions on design and content

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