Relief Sculpture
Subtractive Process

During our unit on sculpture, students created a bas-relief sculpture using wallboard (drywall) and carving tools. (Many, many thanks to Susie, an ArtsEdNetter, for all the tips and suggestions that she offered regarding this project!!)

The 4 ft. by 8 ft. piece of drywall was cut into 12" (or smaller) squares. This was done by scoring the drywall on the "right" side with a boxcutter, and then "snapping" it along the score line. I used the boxcutter on the reverse side to cut through the remaining paper that held the squares together.

Students glued their square of drywall (back side down) to a piece of cardboard the same size. This was to make sure that the piece stayed together, even if it cracked while they were working on it. Next, they used sponges (wet, but not dripping) to soften and remove the paper on the front of the board. This took time and patience!

I encouraged them to come up with relatively simple designs (of their choice) and to avoid having raised lines or areas that were less than about 1/2" thick. The board is rather fragile, and I was concerned that it would crumble if students tried to make very thin lines or if they cut too deeply into the wallboard. Some students heeded these suggestions, and others really wanted to try more intricate designs.

As they began to carve, most kept the surface slightly damp. This made the drywall easier to carve and seemed to reduce chipping. If they got it too wet, however, it was much more likely to crack.

They used a small carving tool to outline their design.

Once that was done, they switched to a larger tool to more quickly remove areas that they intended to cut away.


Students could choose to use metallic or stone spray paints to finish their carvings, or they could use acrylic paint to add color to their designs.






This student created a glossy finish with Modge Podge

This student used a combination of mock stone spray paint and gold spray paint

From Previous Years





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