Welcome to The Helpful Art Teacher, an interdisciplinary website linking visual arts to math, social studies, science and language arts.

Learning how to draw means learning to see. A good art lesson teaches us not only to create but to look at, think about and understand our world through art.

Please click on my page to see my personal artwork and artist statement: http://thehelpfulartteacher.blogspot.com/p/the-art-of-rachel-wintembe.html

Please contact me at thehelpfulartteacher@gmail.com. I would love to hear from you.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Toothpick Sculptures, How Art Inspires Art

Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos 
Both of these miniature Ferris wheels are made entirely of toothpicks and white glue. The Ferris wheel on the left was created by inmates at San Quentin prison in the early part of the 20th century. It has a working motor and is on display, together with the rest of an inmate created miniature toothpick amusement park,at San Francisco's Museé Mecanique

The Ferris wheel on the right was created by contemporary artist Scott Weaver. It is part of a giant toothpick sculpture representing the entire city of San Francisco.Weaver began the sculpture as a child, growing up in San Francisco, and added to it on and off for 35 years.
Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos 
Here is a photograph of Scott Weaver's giant sculpture. It is made entirely of toothpicks and held together with white glue. Both works of art are kinetic sculptures, which means that they have moving parts.

The tetrahedron is the building block of this three dimensional design project. Composed of four identical triangles, it forms an extremely stabile structure.


Work in progress by a 7th grade boy. 
He is figuring out how to design a roof that doesn't collapse. Together we looked at geodesic domes. I reminded him of the arches, vaults and domes of Ancient Rome and Medieval Europe from his social studies class. We discussed forces, physics and engineering.

Miniature Playground by a 9 year old girl

Tower designed by a team of five 7th grade girls

Tower designed by an 8th grade girl

Miniature Roller coaster created from toothpicks by San Quentin Prison inmates, early 20th century. Museé Mecanique, San Francisco

Miniature Ferris Wheel Created by San Quentin Prison Inmates, Early 20th century. Museé Mecanique, 
San Francisco

Miniature amusement park ride, created by San Quentin Prison Inmates, early 20th century. Museé Mecanique,
 San Francisco


Both Scott Weaver's toothpick sculpture and the toothpick amusement park created by San Quentin inmates have moving parts. Weaver's creation uses gravity to move the balls through the maze of tracks. The San Quentin sculpture uses electric motors. A sculpture with moving parts is known as a kinetic sculpture. Kinetic sculptures can be powered by sunlight,wind, gravity, electricity or even a person turning a crank. The movie below shows a kinetic sculpture powered only by the wind.


For related art projects, lessons and information, please see my blog post on the basic elements of three dimensional form: http://thehelpfulartteacher.blogspot.com/2010/12/basic-elements-of-three-dimensional.html

Follow up activity: Do an 'earthquake' test on your towers by placing them on a pan of jello and tapping the sides. Which buildings stay up? Which buildings collapse? How can they be redesigned? 



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