So last year, I tried this project with my class and it was a disaster. A few kids got it but most of the projects were a hot mess. I told the kids to just start carving and to think about the overall shape they were leaving behind. They had to focus on the positive space, not the negative space that they were removing, even though those holes were going to be important. What I ended up with was lines and smiley faces carved into the foam...not exactly what I was looking for and not exactly focusing on the positive space.
After a lot of thought, I came up with a solution to the problem of freely carving. This is going to sound nuts but we scribbled! We took a sheet of paper that was long enough to wrap around the block of foam and scribbled...big loopy scribbles like this:
Next, we outlined the outside shape and at least 5 holes in the middle like this:
After tracing, we cut out our template and pinned it to our block of floral foam.
Using clay loop tools, we carved out everything that was not covered with paper.
After the initial carving, we took off the paper and I showed the class how to carve all the way through, how to make the holes bigger, how to create layers so the surface wasn't flat, and how to carve in behind shapes to make them pop out. We still focused on the shapes we were leaving behind and I emphasized the importance of carving away a lot to create an interesting form.
After we finished carving, we smoothed with our fingers and then coated the entire thing with mod podge to get rid of the green dust that was creating a haze in the classroom.
Next, we painted the entire sculpture black
Finally, we used a dry brush technique to add metallic paint to give the sculpture the look of metal.
Here are the results...