Lesson Plan: Constructed Reed Sculpture [Presented by Blick Art Materials]

The coiled material known to many western artists and crafters as “reed” does not come from a plant that grows along a riverbank, as one might think. Craft reed is cut from the inner core of the rattan vine, harvested from jungles in southeast Asia and processed into flat or round lengths. Wicker furniture and baskets are made predominately from reed.

Commonly used for functional items, in the hands of a fine artist reed can be formed into highly innovative fiber sculpture.

American artist Martin Puryear is well known for sculptures that merge modern art with traditional methods and materials, including rattan. Cambodian artist Sopheap Pich uses native materials to express the dark history of his homeland and his own experiences as a refugee in the form of woven sculpture. In addition, artist Nathalie Miebach weaves reed and other materials to bring art, mathematics, and science together by translating numerical and environmental data into woven pieces.

Reed is an inexpensive and easy-to-use medium with diverse possibilities. This process demonstrates how reeds can be inserted into corrugated channels that will hold them in place and easily release them as well. For young artists who are experimenting and problem-solving in three-dimensional space, this process allows them to form and secure individual components and have the freedom to change their minds and rearrange their sculpture.

GRADES 3-12 Note: Instructions and materials are based upon a class size of 24 students. Adjust as needed.

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