Notebook, 1993-

MATERIALS & METHODS - A Perspective on Art Education - Activities for Children - Themes & Topics

Drawing & Painting -- Modeling & Sculpting

Fingerpainting -- Mural Making -- Paper-Mâché -- Puppets -- Mask-Making -- Crayon Encaustics -- Crayon Resist Drawing -- Crayon Sgraffito -- Collage -- Mobiles -- Watercolor -- Common Earth Clay -- Salt Ceramic [recipe] -- Clay / plasticene Non-hardening -- Carving in the Round -- Newspaper Modeling -- Paraffin or Wax Sculpture -- Plaster Plaques or Reliefs -- Relief in Plaster -- Relief in Soft Wood -- Repoussé -- Sandcasting -- Working With the Coping Saw or Jigsaw -- Straw/Toothpick Sculpting -- Painting on Window Glass -- Diorama -- Peep Shows -- Whittling -- Wire Sculpture

[From: [Meaning in Crafts. Mattil,, Edward L. Chairman, Dept. of Art, North Texas State University. Third Edition, Prentice-Hall, Inc., Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, 1971.]

Paraffin or Wax

Paraffin is an extremely fine sculpting material that lends itself to ordinary classroom use and yet can be finished beautifully. Generally, paraffin is purchased in one-pound packages that consist of four quarter-pound blocks or slabs. The slabs can be used as they are at almost any grade level for very interesting relief carving, but some of the most interesting results come from fusing the four blocks into a solid mass, sometimes with the addition of a small amount of color provided by a wax crayon melted along with the paraffin.

It is not difficult to fuse the four blocks if a hot plate is available. The bottom of the waxed carton is carefully sealed with masking or gummed tape and placed in a container of cold water. Even better is a waxed or plastic-coated milk carton, which is less likely to leak than the paraffin box. One block is removed and melted and the remaining three separated slightly. The melted block is poured into the box, fusing the three remaining blocks. If the carton should leak slightly, the cold water will immediately harden the paraffin, thereby stopping the leak. Later, the carton is removed and the paraffin can be carved.

As is the case generally in sculpting, the shape of the block determines what is to be carved. Carving can be done with paring knives, wood-carving tools, or linoleum-carving tools. One good method is occasionally to have the children begin carving the paraffin block with no conscious plan, allowing the feel of the material to determine the outcome. Very often the paraffin lends itself to the creation of abstract sculptures, in which the children make beautiful forms that are as pleasant to handle as to view.

Paraffin is fairly sturdy, so it permits quite intricate cutting if the child desires to go into detail or is working in a realistic direction; but it is difficult, though not impossible, to repair. When all the cutting is complete, the child can smooth the paraffin by rubbing it with a rounded stick, such as a tongue depressor or an orange stick. He can bring it to an almost translucent polish by rubbing it with a stick, a smooth piece of cloth, or even the fingers.

Dropping a piece of wax crayon into the melted paraffin will sometimes cause the color to run through the block in a very irregular fashion. This in itself might suggest what shall be cut away and what shall remain. Sometimes the child sees in the color that flows through the block the image of what he wishes to create. Old wax candles or unbleached beeswax can be melted and added to the paraffin for interesting color. Occasionally, if the whole pound of paraffin is melted and poured back into the box, minute air bubbles will remain, bringing a rich appearance to the surface of the paraffin.

[Meaning in Crafts. Mattil,, Edward L. Chairman, Dept. of Art, North Texas State University. Third Edition, Prentice-Hall, Inc., Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, 1971.]



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