"A Faithful Attempt" is designed to showcase a variety of K-12 art lessons, the work of my art students, as well as other art-related topics. Projects shown are my take on other art teacher's lessons, lessons found in books or else designed by myself.
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Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Milagros Bas Relief

This is a bas relief (or low relief) project that uses recycled cereal boxes. A bas relief is a low sculpture technique in which the design elements are just barely more prominent than the (overall flat) background.

For this project, Grade 9 students build up the relief with layers of cut-out cereal box shapes. They had to represent something they are thankful for. 
I found the lesson plan on the fantsastic CRIZMAC website.

I first showed a slideshow of milagros examples and explained the history and meaning behind them.

from Wikipedia:

Milagros  are religious folk charms that are traditionally used for healing purposes and as votive offerings in Mexico, the southern United States, other areas of Latin America, as well as parts of the Iberian peninsula. They are frequently attached to altars, shrines, and sacred objects found in places of worship, and they are often purchased in churches, cathedrals or from street vendors.

Milagros come in a variety of shapes and dimensions and are fabricated from many different materials, depending on local customs. For example, they might be nearly flat or fully three dimensional; and they can be constructed from gold, silver, tin, lead, wood, bone, or wax. In Spanish, the word milagro literally means miracle or surprise.

This is what you'll need:
  • Sketchbooks or scrap paper 
  • Scissors
  • Pencils
  • Lightweight cardboard (we used cereal boxes)
  • Cardboard squares to use as the base for the milagro (we used mat board scraps which were donated from a framing shop)
  • White glue, paintbrushes
  • Black tissue paper (can usually find at the Dollar store)
  • Metallic crayons

I do this project towards the end of a term when I've had enough time to build up my cereal box collection- of course, you can always ask students to bring them in as well.
Metallic wax crayons or oil pastels.  Take the labels off.

So students begin by sketching a simple design for their milagro in their sketchbook.  They needed to represent somehting they were thankful for. They had to have a minimum of three layers and they could include a word (in any language) if they wished.  I got the usual suspects of video games, but for the most part, I did get some more meaningful symbols such as love, friendship, mothers, music, etc.

Then students use a piece of mat board for the base and then start drawing and cutting out the shapes needed from the cereal boxes. Think in terms of layers. Lay it all out and decide how you want the composition to look.

When you're happy with it, glue all the pieces down with an even, thin layer of white glue.

Let dry (overnight) and you will have something like this:

Then mix up some white glue with a bit of water to thin it down, and using a paint brush, brush over the relief and then gently and carefully lay a sheet of black tissue paper (cut slightly larger than the relief) over the relief and pat it down with your fingers and/or a paintbrush.  Rub around all the shapes.  It's ok if you get lots of wrinkles.

Wrap it around the back like a present (see below) and glue it into place. Let dry.

I stacked books on top of them overnight as they had a tendency to warp a bit....

When they are dry, rub the side of a metallic wax crayon all over the design
and it will pop out and look like old metal.

Here are some Grade 9 results:
Ta da!

detail of the bas relief


"Love" in German



Nancie Kay said...

Very Nice! Any recommendations on metallic crayon or oil pastel brands?

Miss said...

Thanks, Nancie! For the wax crayons, I just rifled around in my big wax crayon bin and separated out the metallics- I believe the 64 pack of Crayolas always comes with a couple of metallics and that's what we used. I only had about 8 crayons for a class of 25 so I warned my kids not to lose them! I've also seen the Crayola Metallic FX crayons, but I've never tried them..

Unknown said...

This is very cool! I plan to use it in one of my classes very soon. Glad to have found you as well. You will definitely be added to my blog roll. I was just wishing for an art teacher blog geared more toward older students, since I teach classes for K through 12th grade. :)

Miss said...

Thanks Art Fairy! Yes, I agree- there are way more elementary art blogs out there. I used to teach K-12 as well which is challenging as you need to have that many more project ideas.

Unknown said...

This lesson made the Weekly Top Twenty best art lessons over at The Art Fairy.
Come by and pick up your button if you get a chance. Great lesson!

Mrs. Skojec said...

This looks like a great project. I teach K-8 and love to give the older kids really good projects whenever I can. You have so many wonderful ideas! Thanks for all your great posts!

Miss said...

Thanks Mrs. Skojec! Yes, I also like to mix it up and give a variety of fun lessons to my high schoolers- they are capable of so much and so creative so it's always interesting seeing the variety of results.

Julia Mark said...

I really love this idea. I have done drywall carving as a relief project, and I really like this idea and the metalic finish effect.

You have a great supply of pictures on your site, it is great. I find sometimes I can find lesson plans,but no examples of the finished products, so this helps a lot!

Miss said...

Thanks very much for your comment, Julia!

Unknown said...

I love this process! I am going to try it with my eighth graders. I decide to go with a different inspiration motivator: Hobo Nickels! I will go through the history and then show them modern Hobo Nickel artists such as paolo Curcio. He does lots of images of Pop figures like E.T. and Frankenstein. I'll ask my students to choose a Pop Icon they admire for their subject matter. I thought making an enlarged "coin" will lend itself nicely to the metallic finish of this project. Thanks again!

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