Investigation #1: “In the eyes of the beholder…”
(one 45 minute class period)
What contributes to the meaning on an object? How can the meaning of an object be changed? If we take an object out of its normal context and place it in a new context does the meaning change? Does it stay the same?
For this investigation provide each student with the same found object. This object can be anything that the teacher can find in multiples to accommodate the size of the class; for example, soda cans, keys, feathers, or coins. Distribute objects and have the students consider the following and record their thoughts on paper. What associations do you have with this object? What are you reminded of? What emotions does the object evoke? What ideas or meanings does it convey? Explain that they are to keep these associations, emotions and ideas in mind as they move into the next activity.
Using the materials provided, as listed in the Teaching Materials heading under Investigation #1, as well as the physical space of the art room, instruct students that they are to quickly create a place for this object to reside. To help them imagine different environments for their object, present the following prompts: Will the object be placed in nature? Will the object be held in reverence, placed on an altar of some kind? Will the object be contained? Will the object be stacked or attached to something? Will the object be wrapped or altered in some way? Will the object be on display? Will the object be conspicuous or inconspicuous? Then provide students with 20 minutes to accomplish this task.
Initiate a conversation about the created environments with the students. Allow the students to explain what kind of meaning they wanted to give the object. Allow students to share the meanings they find in other students’ solutions. Have students note the many different solutions. Were there different interpretations of one kind of solution? What does this tell us about the meaning of objects? (We all bring different ideas to objects.) What does this tell us about individuals when looking at objects? (Our perspectives differ.) What do you think affects a person’s association with an object? On a blackboard, overhead or chart paper “map” student contributions. Encourage students to consider such things as family background, personal experience with an object, cultural or ethnic background, knowledge of history, age, geographic location.
Inform students that the next investigation will involve interpreting meanings of two objects. While objects will be provided in the classroom, they might like to bring in an object or two of their own. They will need to bring the items the next time class meets.
Investigation #2: Object Swap Activity: A way to understand juxtaposition
(one 45 minute class period)
In this investigation students choose two objects that they believe create a new or larger meaning when they are placed together, juxtaposed. The objects can be brought in by the student or provided in the classroom Suggestions for objects are listed in the Teaching Materials section under Investigation #2. Students will first work independently then partner with another student. The purpose of this investigation is to give the students a chance to understand how the meaning of an object can change when juxtaposed with other objects.
Distribute “Juxtaposition and Collaboration: Object Swap Map and Instructions.” Have students follow the directions and start the worksheet individually. When prompted, students will pair up and complete the worksheet in a collaborative mode by trading objects and creating new meanings for the juxtaposed objects.
Investigation #3: Collaboration and Juxtaposition
(one 45 minute class period)
View the segment on David and Roberta Williamson in “Process” of the Craft in America DVD.
Discuss the video. What kinds of objects do the Williamsons use? Can you identify imagery or words found on some of the objects they use? What questions do you have about their work or techniques? How does their collaborative process contribute to their work?
Do a web search for images of found object jewelry or provide hard copy images of found object jewelry for students to consider and discuss. What similarities or difference do you see compared to the jewelry created by David and Roberta Williamson? In what ways are you surprised? For example, are there objects you are surprised to see in found object jewelry?
For more examples of the Williamson’s work, see the Craft In America site: www.craftinamerica.org/artists_metal/story_334.php
(five to seven 45 minute class periods)
Throughout time and across cultures people have used personal adornment for many reasons. Have students consider the functions of and reasons behind personal adornment. What forms of personal adornment can students identify? How have students used personal adornment to express themselves in social situations?
In this studio students will create a piece of jewelry or accessory from found objects that evokes a story or emotion. To further challenge students, the assignment can be elevated to create a piece of jewelry that captures and envelops an emotional moment or memory dear to their own lives.
To begin, have students watch the video clip of the Williamsons at the antique mart.
Subject Matter: Finding Connections
Create an “art room antique mart” for students to investigate and collect objects they will use in this studio art-making experience. This provides students the opportunity to investigate objects, initiate peer-to-peer dialogue, and practice collaborative problem solving as the students are challenged to “connect” these objects, both mentally and physically, into a piece of personal adornment.
In creating an “art room antique mart,” take the time to purposefully set up the objects listed in the Teaching Materials section under Studio Production. Some items can be laid out and considered “precious;” other items can be stacked or bundled giving students a chance to “dig.” Students may bring in personal items such as ticket stubs, parts of letters or cards, trading cards, small toys, sea glass, shells, souvenirs, personal trinkets, photographs, etc. Tell students that original photographs or other one-of-a-kind images can be preserved or reduced in size by scanning or photocopying. Paper objects can be made durable by placing them behind polyester casting resin (a clear liquid that hardens when dry) or covered with an acrylic polymer sealant.
Once students have selected a number of objects and have begun to formulate a way to translate these objects into a plausible piece of jewelry, distribute the “Finding and Making Connections: Design Worksheet.” As students sketch out ideas, remind them that how the individual pieces are set up in relationship to one another will impact the story or meaning.
Technique: Making Connections
Teach students about cold-connection techniques. Cold metal work involves the connecting of metal fragments without the use of heat. Students can connect found metal objects and metal hardware items by wrapping them with wire, joining, tying, riveting, etc. Gather materials found under Teaching Materials for Studio Production. For more detailed information on cold-connecting techniques, see Joanna Gollberg’s Making Metal Jewelry: Projects, Techniques, Inspiration, Lark Books, 2003 or Susan Lenart Kazmer’s Making Connections: A Handbook of Cold Joins for Jewelers and Mixed Media Artists, Loveland, CO: Interweave Press; 2nd ed., 2008.