I had been trying to come up with a final project for my AP kids. They are
burned out and have senioritis all over the place, but I need to keep them
occupied for a few more weeks. When all the talk about using cheap, found
materials came up on this list, I decided to revive a lesson I haven't done
for several years. I first saw this in FIBERARTS magazine in 1984. The
editors sent a box of materials to seven artists as a starting point for
creating a work of art. All the artists got the same materials but were only
required to use one third. Anything could be added to, in any way they
chose. More importantly, the artists were asked to document their creative
thinking process. The results were incredible. In 1990, FIBERARTS gave a
similar challenge open to all readers. I adapted the challenge for my
students and got astounding results.
I wrote to Judy Decker expressing my concerns about posting this lesson
because I stole it from FiberArts. What did dear dear Judy do, but write
to the magazine for permission and got an immediate response. I can't
believe I heard back from Fiberarts already - they are "thrilled" to
> get the extra exposure. I will link to the site on the lesson plan (and put
> a little blurb at the bottom).
I thought it might be fun if I offered the challenge to all of you -- for
you the teacher to do. Then we could post pictures of all our varied
solutions. When I gave it to my AP students the other day, they were so
excited they all had 5 ideas almost immediately. (BTW I showed them no
pictures of past results, just gave them the written lesson.)
I'm going to try to post the lesson here and hope it's not too much for
lyris to handle.
The Creative Process
The Student will:
Associate the creative process with individual consciousness
Utilize ordinary materials to create a personal expression
Document the process through writing, sketch, or photographs
Justify choices and approaches by stating artistic intention
"What prompts an artist to develop one image instead of another? To use red
here rather than there? To treat an idea sculpturally rather than in
two-dimensional form? Knowing about the process that produced a work can
enhance our appreciation of it." (FIBERARTS, Nov/Dec, 1984)
How conscious are you of your own creative process?
This challenge was posed to the readers of FIBERARTS magazine in 1990.
The guidelines were vague on purpose. The opportunity was to explore a
personal creative process. I offer you the same challenge.
The 15 items listed below are inexpensive and readily available.
Items to Choose From
1. 20 twigs, not to exceed 1.5 feet each
2. 3 pieces of net (hair net, fish net, onion bag net, etc.)
3. 8 pairs of shoe laces
4. 3 kitchen sponges or wire mesh scour pads
5. as much dryer lint as you can deal with
6. up to 3 yards of fabric
7. 1 hank, not over 1 lb. dyed or natural raffia
8. 1 daily or Sunday newspaper, or 4 paper bags (any style)
9. 5 skeins embroidery floss
10. 4 yards of cheesecloth
11. 2 lbs. Knitting yarn
12. 50 paper clips or push pins or rubber bands or safety pins
13. 1 tape from a broken cassette
14. 3 packages seam binding or lace or satin trim or rickrack
15. any amount of blow-in subscription cards from any magazine
1. You are required to use at least five of the ingredients listed and the
amount specified. e.g. if you choose 50 paper clips you must use all 50.
(You may add something of your own, but must use at least 5 items from
2. There are no restrictions on what you do with the items. You can
transform any or all of the items by dyeing, ripping, shredding,
pulverizing, etc. You can create a sculpture, a wall piece, something
wearable, jewelry, a basket, or whatever may occur to you. The piece can be
elegant or funky, large or small, functional or decorative.
3. REQUIRED Keep a journal of your thoughts, plans, sketches, and
inspirations. Start today by writing down your first impressions of the
project. (Challenging, eh?) What are you thinking as you read this? Does
something occur to you immediately or will this be a struggle? Write as you
work. What is your thinking process? What worked? What didn't? How does it
change? How does creation happen?
In all the times I've given this, I've never done it myself.. but this time
I am. I've already started. AND I'm taking off tomorrow and Friday for a
long restful holiday weekend and I'm going to make for me.
Today the power went off at school and I had to spend over 2 hours in the
dark with anxious teenagers and on top of that my darkroom flooded. So, I'm
feeling real good about staying home and making art.
Hope someone else takes the challenge.
who always hopes all that stuff I clip from magazines will come to be useful
A painting in a museum hears more ridiculous opinions than anything else in
-- Edmond de Concourt