Ode to Moore
manipulated the material within the
bag as desired. They could manipulate
the bags for only about five to seven
minutes before the mixture set. Students were surprised by how warm the
This year we introduced a beginning sculpture class into the art curriculum. It was a challenge to create a course
that would be interesting to students,
low-cost, stimulating, and fun. One of
the artists I felt needed to be studied
was sculptor Henry Moore.
Best known for his monumental
abstract sculptures of reclining figures, Moore’s forms are generally
pierced or have a hollow space within
them. Some say that these “organic
undulating forms” are reminiscent
of the landscape of his home in Yorkshire, England.
Henry Moore devoted his life to his
work and the proceeds of his work to
support education and the promotion
of the arts. He truly was a shining
example of an artist, scholar, educator,
and gentleman. We had to have him in
Moore was a giant in the world of
sculpture and his large cast bronzes
and marble carvings offer a great
source for inspiration as well. Our
attempts would not be on the
same scale, but we would
mimic his gentle forms. I
decided the best way to
attempt this would be to
create a mixture of casting
plaster and vermiculite.
The addition of vermiculite to plaster would
allow it to be
Nancy Corrigan Wilbert
Preparing the Sculpture Medium
To mix the plaster and vermiculite, we
used a medium-sized plastic bucket. A
two-to-one ratio (plaster to vermiculite) was measured. We slowly added
lukewarm water and carefully mixed
it with a rubber spatula (wear a mask
when doing this) to the consistency of
The mixture was quickly scraped
out to fill plastic sandwich bags (not
Ziplock) three quarters full. Air in
the bags was gently squeezed
out, and the bags were
secured with twist ties.
before the mixture
The next day, students gently opened
and pulled away the bags and used files
and carving tools to refine the shapes.
They were amazed at how stone-like
the forms appeared with the added vermiculite. Some students combined two
or more plaster shapes together, creating
When finished, students sealed the
forms with a gloss medium. A local
business donated scrap granite that we
used for bases. The plaster forms were
positioned and then set with white glue.
The results were truly amazing!
Nancy Corrigan Wilbert is an art teacher
at Seekonk High School in Seekonk, Massachusetts.