Paper Sculpture Inspired by Alexander Calder

This wonderful sculpture was created at my last Teacher Workshop…. I don’t know who to give credit to, so if this is yours, please let me know!Alexander Calder (1898-1976) was an American artist who was born into a family of artists and sculptors and became one of the 20th century’s most influential modern artists. He is also known for inventing the mobile and the “stabile”, his name for a fixed sculpture with similar design elements to a mobile.

Try this form of “additive sculpture” to experiment with abstract designs! Calder often created his sculptures in solid red or black, so use paper in those colors to create your own Calder-inspired sculptures. (Younger students will enjoy using a variety of colors together to design the playground of their dreams!) Use the techniques below to create 3 dimensional sculptural effects with paper:
  • Cutting – single or multiple cuts
  • Folding – (check out what you can do simply by folding…
  • Curling – use long, thin strips of paper to make spirals and reverse spirals
  • Rolling – make cones and tubes
  • Bending – change direction without creasing the paper
  • Scoring – lightly run scissors across the edge of a ruler to just barely break the surface of the paper for a crisp fold (a paperclip may also be used on lightweight paper), a great way to make folds along a curve
  • Layering – glue smaller pieces of paper onto increasingly larger pieces (like a mola)
  • Slicing & Joining – cut a slit into wider piece and slide narrower piece into it
  • Twisting – hold one end of the paper with your right hand and one with your left hand and twist a little or a lot
  • Crumpling – scrunch paper in both hands
  • Stuffing – crumple paper and wrap with a second layer of paper
  • Crimping – use a special “crimping tool” to make small, uniform waves or folds, similar to corrugated cardboard
For this project, I use a 10″x10″ square of foam core board for the base, heavyweight construction paper, scissors, and YES! Paste. A craft stick, or popsicle stick, works great for spreading the YES! Paste. (If you use a glue stick instead, it won’t hold as well before it dries, so you’ll need to help it out by taping or paper clipping your glued pieces until the glue has dried completely.)

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One Response to Paper Sculpture Inspired by Alexander Calder

  1. gypsy November 15, 2009 at 7:20 pm #

    My daughter (10) has been designing paper sculptures like crazy… she holds hers together with staples! Thank you for new ideas to incorporate! ~ Tammy