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

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