Friday, April 19, 2013

Lesson Idea :: Mehndi Hand Sculptures **Updated with Student Work** :: World Art Study

I promised this to you last week when I presented the lesson project idea of Mehndi Hand Sculptures and today I have the completed student work for you! This has been one of the most successful project endeavors of the Interactive Art History class in the (now) four years that I taught the class and I am seriously proud of how the students have done with this even with it only being the first time trying it. And? This is the second major project idea that I have done with Plaster of Paris so perhaps I have a signature medium for myself? I mean... does that even exist? Well, whatever, here is one more art education idea where Plaster of Paris is quite handy. *pun intended*

I feel like this is a great way to do the art of Zen Doodling and making it that much more challenging and impressive since it applies designs to a three dimensional surface. Some of the most interesting of designs were students who really attempted to depart from the minimum of simply sculpting the hand and then applying designs. The hands that were gestural were incredibly impressive and the students who attempted to add color to their hands - which made them decidedly less Mehndi in style - were even more successful overall. There were creative risks that some of the students endeavored to take and I am very proud of them for that alone. 

This project held student interest from start to finish and I helped to keep them invested by encouraging them to make their design work as densely packed as possible. I did not discourage the use of color and while classic Mehndi designs have a sort of natural feminine flair to it that might have turned the guys off, I encouraged the guys to think of tribal design work instead of things that were floral in nature.

I will definitely be doing this project idea again and now that I have one round of experience with it I fully intend to try and raise the bar next year. I am already researching and working on how that will happen so watch out for me next Spring when it's time (again) for the Interactive Art History class. And if you do this project idea with your classes? Let me know! I love seeing how much better and different things look beyond my classroom.


  1. Replies
    1. Thanks! It was very fun to watch them take shape and I am really glad I went this route instead of just having them draw on gloves on their hands.

  2. Awesome! I have never used plaster of paris before and am wondering if there is a certain brand you recommend? Also, how much plaster does it take per hand if I am using large gloves. I have 45 students that would be doing this project and I want to make sure I order enough!

    1. I recommend Playbox brand but I have used a different brand sold at Lowe's though I don't know the name of it. The Playbox brand is pure white and the one from Lowe's is more of a grey sort of color. In terms of how much per hand... I honestly don't know because I buy it in bulk and use a 25 lb bag over multiple classes and for multiple different projects - Cave art included! I would say that you should be fine with the 25 lb bag and if you order it from Dick Blick it's less than $15 it seems. And of course if you have any leftover - perhaps you could try your hand at some cave art slabs! :)

    2. Thank you! That helps!!! I am so excited to try this project out and I know my students will love it. Thank you for your wonderful website - I am so inspired by it. I teach at a private Christian school too and am so happy to see your lessons and how you integrate your faith into your creations!

  3. Andrea these are amazing! I am borrowing your idea to use with my students this week (art camp). I made a sample yesterday and I have a few questions:
    - Do you remove the gloves? If you don't, how do you get their names on them?
    - Do you have trouble with the plaster breaking? My thumb fell off.
    - Do you seal them with anything when you're done?

    Thank you so much, if you could respond asap I'd really appreciate it :)

    1. Hi Kelsey! Sorry for the delay in my response - I'm not getting notifications they way I'm supposed to for new comments! :(

      Anyway... responses to yours questions...
      - You don't remove the gloves. In terms of keeping track of them, I always recommend laying out table paper, gridding it off and then writing artist names in the box and putting the hand in the box until they will be embellished. You can also get gallon sized bags and write the names on those with the hand inside.
      - The plaster does easily break. If you let it sit for at least one whole day (in a place where there is enough circulating air) you should be OK.
      - We didn't seal them but I see no reason why you couldn't try some clear-coat or something. Our gloves did yellow over time though I don't know if the clear-coat would help prevent that.


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