Media, materials and processes: 3D construction

Try to use a range of materials to give pupils accessible opportunities to engage with spatial and tactile ways of thinking and working.

Because working directly in three dimensions does not require an abstraction into two dimensions, it can be experienced as more immediate than drawing or painting.

Learning Intentions

  • We are learning to understand the positive and negative elements of three dimensional shape and space.
  • We are learning about the range of materials we can use to construct in three dimensions.
  • We are learning to identify the possibilities and limitations within them, and to use them inventively.
  • We are learning that we can alter forms by adding or removing material.
  • We are learning to select or invent a range of joining techniques to solve technical problems as they arise.
  • We are learning that the surface of a three dimensional piece is an integral part of the form, and to use appropriate media to finish it.

To help set this work in context, you may wish to refer to the other Key Elements for Key Stage 3 Art and Design on this microsite:

Learning Activities

Allow the pupils to use materials to develop their ideas and gain experience working in three dimensions. For example, they could use wire to explore linear space by making a 3D drawing.

Use 3D mock-ups to guide them in an exploration of composition and space.

Provide or have the pupils find different weights and scales of selected materials, such as plastic, card, polystyrene or wood. They could use these to:

  • gather information to develop ideas in three dimensions, modifying their work when they find new problems and solutions; or
  • design a system, artefact or environment for a specific purpose, e.g. plan the layout and labelling for an exhibition.

Ask them to use found materials, for example to combine a range of tubes, cylinders, boxes etc. to create forms.

They could also form an armateur (a framework for a sculpture) from a range of materials, such as:

  • paper parcels;
  • paper rolls;
  • cardboard tubes;
  • light wire;
  • twigs; and
  • willow.

Encourage them to use materials inventively, for example:

  • paper to scrunch, roll, wrap, pleat etc;
  • card to score, bend, curve, interlock, layer etc;
  • wire of varying weights to twist, bend, coil, wrap, wind etc; or
  • paper laminate, plaster or plaster bandage to model over an armature.

Have the pupils use paper pulp for different purposes, for example:

  • to create forms; and
  • to add detail to other structures.
Give them an opportunity to create work by cutting and carving from a block.

Allow the pupils to explore inventive joining techniques, for example:

  • interlocking card;
  • sandwiching corrugated card;
  • lacing with wire; and
  • creating joints with card.
Suggest that they could incorporate articulated joints into their work to create movement, e.g. making a poseable figure that can be repositioned.

Have the pupils create a suitable outer skin from a range of materials such as:

  • different weights of paper layered with paste or PVA;
  • a plaster bandage; or
  • paper pulp.

Provide a range of media and ask the pupils to create different finishes. For example, they could combine sawdust or sand with paste or PVA to create textures.