I've used plaster every year with my students. here's my great ideas-
Pre-plan. I get the regular plastic bags from grocery stores and add 1-2 cups of plaster to them while I'm wearing a good dust mask before we start our projects. I keep them in a bucket and give a bag to each student when the time comes. they get in line that has containers, cut of milk jugs, short boxes, whatever the bags can be folded over. (be sure to check the bags pretty thoroughly for holes before adding plaster.) Then the go through the water line. They add the right amount of water for what we're doing- hard or soft- what's ever desired. If the students are afraid to get plaster on them, or have a known allergy to the stuff (usually we found this out year to year as I worked with a same students and they turned red and rashy after using it.) I get them to lather up with petroleum jelly. Nothing sticks to it, and it prevents allergic reactions.
Doing the mixing with some amounts allows me to get the kids through the line quickly, prevents dust (it's horrible stuff to breathe),a dn allows me to have more time to spend with the kids once they have gotten the plaster wet. They MUST get down into the cracks of the bag to get all the plaster and use it quickly. You'll have to help with this in my experience.
Some fun plaster projects- reverse casting
Creating a raised form with modeling clay inside of a box, and then pour in a plaster. Wait until hard, take plaster form out, cover sides with a tall tape- duct tape or shipping tape- then spray with Pam or other spray-on lubricant, mix more plaster, put it on the form and them -Voila!- you have a positive cast of your original sculpture.
You can also create single casts by "drawing" in wet sand, or using objects to create impressions, and then pouring the plaster gently over the sand. Get very fine sand if you're going to do this one.
Henry Moore, as so many people have said, but also Giacometti. Create a wire sculpture, and dip muslin cloth strips into a wet plaster; greater than average water to plaster ratio- and cover the sculpture.
Create plaster disc/plates and have the students paint them fresco style. If you get hexagonal plates you can create a mural with a classroom's worth of them.
Create a wacky sculpture of found objects and dip it into the wet plaster, creating a kind of unified look, sort of Louise Nevelson style, dry them, and then have the students paint them.
--- In email@example.com, "Steph" <sphelos@...> wrote:
> Hi there folks. I'm a new high school 3D Design teacher. With no budget, I have to use what I've got at the start of the year-- which is 4 large bags of plaster and a good bit of plaster. I have little experience with plaster, and I'm looking for some advice. My questions are:
> -How do you organize the class to use plaster?
> -What other materials would I need to work with plaster?
> -Cleaning hands?
> -What are some good high school plaster projects?
> -Any suggestions for smooth class transitions, safety, and class rules when using plaster?
> I read a lesson where the students would pour plaster into garbage bags and mold it in the bag until it sets. Has anyone tried this?
> Thanks in advance for your help! It's so very appreciated.