Blick Lesson: Stabile Sculpture

[MUSIC PLAYING] When you hear the name
of Alexander Calder, what do you think of? Abstract hanging
mobile sculpture immediately comes to mind. Kinetic mobiles where
only a portion of Calder’s vast body of work. He also painted in
oils and created walls sculpture and stationary
pieces that he called stabiles. If you’d like to take a
look at Calder’s stabiles and other works, visit
the Calder Foundation at He worked in a
variety of materials– plastic, wood, and steel. But the project I’m
going to show you today introduces a new
material called taskboard. Architects and 3D
designers who create models are familiar with this product. Taskboard is a natural,
wood-based product made from sustainable resources. This is not cardboard,
though you certainly can cut it with scissors or
with a craft knife very easily. It doesn’t warp. But when it’s dampened,
it can be bent. And the cool part is the bends
stay in place when they’re dry. Here let me show
you how to do this. I have a piece here
that’s been cut. With a sponge or you
could use a spritz bottle to do this as well, dampen the
task board on the front side and on the backside where
you want to make the bend. Then very gently move
it where you want to go. Warning– there is a
limit to the pressure that it withstands. Move a little too quickly,
press a little too firmly, and you might get a crack in it. If you do, don’t worry. I’m going to show you in a
minute how you can fix that. Now I could take some
rubber bands or paperclips and wrap this around something
like a coffee can or a pop bottle and allow the
water to evaporate. It would take about an hour. But what I like to do is to use
a hair dryer on a low setting and aim it right on the damp
part inside and outside. And in just minutes, it’s
dry enough to hold that band. Now you could start with a
sketch or a paper maquette just to help you plan. I’ve gone ahead and
bent my pieces already, just like I showed you
with the hairdryer. Now I’m ready to
start assembling. You could cut a
slit in each piece and then assemble them
together like that. Or you could just bond the
pieces together with glue. White glue works pretty well. But you may want to use hot
glue or perhaps Sobo glue if you want to get a
really strong bond. I have a piece right over here
that’s already bonded together. And you can see how
even on the very edges it can be bonded together. OK. Now here’s the part where
I promise to tell you how to fix cracks and frays. If you look at the
very edge of this piece that I have here, taskboard does
tend to fray, especially when you get into small areas. Easily fixed– just bring
the Sobo glue out again, cover the area– making
sure you get the sides as well– push it back
together, and it’s fixed. And I saw a crack on this
piece that I had over here. Now because taskboard
is a wood based product, it can be sanded
down with sandpaper. And if necessary, you
can fill the cracks with a little bit more glue. But you can see just a
little bit of sanding takes care of that crack. I also like to smooth the
edges down a little bit, too. And it’s always a good idea–
anytime you’re working with airborne particles no matter
what material you’re using– to put on a particle mask. Now this sculpture
here is ready to paint. Taskboard can be finished
with any water-based or solvent-based paint or stain. If you examine Calder’s
color choices in sculpture, you’ll notice that
they’re very, very basic. He considered color to
be secondary to form. So that’s why I’ve chosen some
basic primary colors here. I am using Blickrylic
Student Grade Acrylic Paints. I’m going to give it
a couple of coats. It covers very,
very well at first. But I want to make sure
that it’s very smooth and that my brush
strokes don’t show. So I would allow this to dry. Coat the whole thing. Allow it to dry. And then come back and
give it a second coat. Then as an option– on a final finish– you might
want to have a gloss coating. Use acrylic varnish, such as
this Liquitex Flexible Varnish. Now just a couple more things– this piece that
you see over here is made with a lighter
weight of taskboard. It’s easier to cut, but it does
make a more flexible sculpture. The piece that I have right
here is made with the heavier weighted taskboard. It makes a little bit
more rigid sculpture. Let’s take a look at some
of these finished stabiles, shall we? The one on the back wall
incorporates some shapes suspended with copper wire. The one up here on
the table merges stabile sculpture with a
mobile for the total Calder experience. Now taskboard is a great
medium for sculpture. And if you want to know
more about this product and many other sculpture
materials, visit If you wish to print out the
instructions and materials for this lesson plan, we have
an easy-to-view PDF for you to download there as well. Thanks for watching and
enjoy making your stabiles. [MUSIC PLAYING]


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *