Cardboard Portrait

15MarquezStudent_2013smIn this project reclaimed cardboard is used to construct self portraits. The cardboard image and structure emphasize the importance of reusing and recycling materials and should provide an inspiring example of creative thought and innovation through repurposing materials.

Mission: Self Portrait

Develop a self portrait using an image of yourself, a word that reflects who you are, and cardboard. Any photo that shows a true likeness of your face can be used. A sheet of cardboard will be your canvas. The goal is to use a subtractive and additive method to develop a portrait using the layers of corrugated cardboard. The finished portrait should be a minimum of 11 x 17  inches. You may go larger.

Project Description/Outline:

  1. Begin with a photograph: A digital file will allow you to enlarge the image to fit your canvas. It will also allow you to add and compose text digitally.
  2. Prepare cardboard canvas. Sized to be fit with the chosen image. It is critical to have all image corners at 90º if you intend for the frame to be a true rectangle or square. Note: I usually refer to 90º corners as “square”.
  3. The image should be altered to black and white. This should be done to a point where the image is made up of positive and negative fields (areas). The average rendering can be made up of very little to no gray areas. This can be done by drawing or tracing the image paying close attention to these areas. You may expand the pallet to include multiple layers in accord with varying degrees of grey. Note: the image above has Three layers to develop the image: black, white and an exposed corrugated layer. Explore the possibilities.
*An alternative to this “hand and eye” design strategy is to put the image in photoshop and alter it to black and white and then the “Threshold” settings can be altered to get the image to your preference.
  4. Choose a word and font that best represents your personality. Develop them into your composition. The word or words must be at least seven characters.
  5. You will need to enlarge the image dimensions to the appropriate size.
  6. After a paper composition has been produced the image will need to be transferred to cardboard. Lightly mark the areas that separate positive and negative sections of the image. If you plan to strengthen the image quality with your own aesthetic this would be a good time to do so.
  7. Once transferred to the cardboard the image is ready to be developed by cutting, tearing and sanding away either the negative or positive areas. It may be necessary to darken the negative areas or pencil marks so they can be seen better in production. Your final image should have no pencil marks.Tearing and cutting away dark areas usually works best. What other methods can you explore and develop?
  8. Finally: Create a a frame of cardboard around your cardboard Portrait. 2 inch thick minimum. This can be done by layering strips of cardboard to create a thicker board. It is a good idea to experiment and create these strips/boards well in advance so they are ready when you are ready to complete the project. Be creative, What can be done to make the frame more interesting? Note: Exposed corrugated layers should be used as the face of the frame structure. The method demonstrated in class functions more structurally and can create an unexpected aesthetic to the project as a whole.
  9. Craft is important: Cuts and joints well executed. Clean up glue and pencil marks.

NOTE: Please refrain from cutting on table surfaces. Use a matt of cardboard or other material if you use the table. The floor works well to give one space to work and cut without damaging the table surfaces.


  • Low Relief
  • Rubber Stamps
  • Negative and Positive imagery
  • Cardboard: Material Properties
  • Texture by Exposing layers
  • Stencils
  • Screen Printing

Tools and Materials:

  • Utility Knife
  • Exacto or Hobby Knife
  • Cardboard
  • Card board paper
  • Pencils
  • Graphite
  • Adhesive (wood glue)
  • Masking tape
  • Transfer paper (optional)


Materials Characteristics:

  • Cardboard: Flat surfaces
  • Card board: Lamination
  • Laminated Layers
  • Skin
  • Corrugation (plains and patterns)


  • Elements of Design
  • Principles of Design
  • Composition
  • Texture
  • Pattern
  • Unity
  • Balance
  • Relief
  • Sensibility to form:
  • Representational Forms
  • Abstract Forms
  • Non-Objective Forms


  • Technique
  • Cutting Safely
  • Thinking from 2-d to 3-d, layers
  • Organizing the surfaces of a corrugated cardboard plane to alternate between textures.
  • Developing Craftsmanship

Note: Use only Cardboard and Glue. No crayons, paints, chalks or inks. Factory pre-printed or pre-colored papers are fair game.

Create a label for your project with these specifics:

  • Name:
  • Dimensions: HWD
  • Materials:
  • Year Complete:
  • Course:
  • Tape your label in upper right corner of the back of your project.


Project Gallery

Welding Line-Form-Repetition

Ward_72Mission: (Project Description)

Create a sculptural form/structure that develops from the linear quality of welded  and fabricated metal. The final form should have a sense of variety and repetition of elements. Add a skin to some or all components of the structure. Develop an aesthetic in the connection of skin to form.

It is expected that a concept be developed that will draw the viewer into a transformed space. A linear form should be the initial aesthetic, creating a structure that defines a new space. Lines, shapes and forms may be curved or straight, yet artist intent must be obvious and well crafted.

Sketchbook Assignment:

Sketches of your ideas should be rendered before and during sculpting. A minimum of five pages should be dedicated to this sketching component. Documentation is a critical learning habit. Not only does it record growth and provide reflection, it will foster new ideas. Printed images of inspirational sculptures or objects should be placed in your sketch book as well. Your sketch book will be graded along with your project.

  • Draw as you create.
  • Draw what you create.
  • Photograph as you create.
  • Take notes.


Form: Beyond line, develop a composition that creates or entraps volume as shapes create form. Do not build a flat 2-dimensional drawing.

  • Welding will be the primary fastening technique.
  • Other fastening techniques are encouraged.
  • Welds should be clean. Relative: no Slag, no whiskers.
  • Use the grinder to clean your welds.
  • Re-weld if needed.


Other materials are not only encouraged but expected. Greatly consider how materials are secured to the structure. Develop aesthetics in the way skins are connected and use them wisely and consistently. Look for texture in the materials search for. Add texture with other materials such as tar, acrylics, and resins.


  • Build a form that can stand on a surface, project off the wall or hang from the ceiling.
  • Choose and design wisely. Aesthetics and good design should be greatly considered.
  • When engineering, developing, and building fastening devices and supports for sculpture, stay away from obtrusive devices that may take away from the concept or aesthetics of the work.


  • Make sure the design works.
  • If free standing, make a structure that is self supporting.
  • If the form will be a wall hung piece, a well engineered mounting strategy should be developed to secure the work to a wall.
  • If the form will be a ceiling hung piece, a well engineered mounting strategy should be developed to secure the work to the ceiling.
  • Allow space for fasteners such as screws to be tightened during installation.
  • Test your designs before final installation and critique.


Sculpture will be made of bent and welded 1/4 inch metal rod and other metals and “skin” materials introduced by the student.

Scale: (HWD)

A minimum of 30 ft of metal rod will be used for this project. Additional material may be purchased to build the form. Final Dimension of Sculpture: The minimum range to shoot for is 2 ft x 3 ft x 1 ft.

Craft and Aesthetics:

A high degree of craft is expected in the fabrication. If wall or ceiling mounted, remember to allow space for fasteners such as screws to be tightened with ease for installation. This is often missed and installation becomes difficult. The skins should be consistent and foster a cohesive visual conversation to the viewer.


A metal finish should be considered for exposed areas. Ends of rod should be well finished/polished with a grinder. A polish, patina or paint may be used. Absolutely, no spray paint in the shop. If spray painting, work outside or in a spray booth. Place a protective material such as newspaper on all surfaces under and around the work area, even the concrete floor. Prep; clean, sand and use a primer before metal is painted. Most metals have an oil on them that will resist paint and surface treatment. It is a good idea to clean the materials before you begin the project. Sanding before cutting and welding will be beneficial.

Tools and Materials:

Safety Glasses
Measuring tape
Welding Eye Protection
Welding Gloves
Welding Leathers (option: thick flannel shirt)
Angel Grinder
Grinding disc, Cut off disc, Flap Disc
1/4 inch rod/ Mild Steel Hot rolled (HR)
1/8 inch rod/ Mild Steel Hot rolled (HR)
Wire: Rebar Wire (good for modeling form or fastening)
Sand paper/ steel wool
Solvents, To clean oil off the metal
Finishing materials, Primer, Sealers/Paint.
Other materials for skin and attaching materials (Wire, string)

Create a label for your project with these specifics:

  • Name:
  • Dimensions: HWD
  • Materials:
  • Year Complete:
  • Course:

Tape your label to your project. Use masking tape so that it will not harm your project.


Protective Gear required: Wear appropriate eye protection, clothing and shoes while welding. UVs from the welders can burn skin and damage eyes, much like the sun, not to mention the metal will be hot after a weld. Use leather welding gloves while working around the metal shop. Assume that metals are “Hot” before picking them up. Be careful when picking them up.

Fumes: Be aware that some metals can be hazardous and some are not compatible with others, In other words lets stick with what we know, steel. When welding, stay away from anything covered in a zinc allow, such as galvanized metals. Galvanized metals can be potentially dangerous, as the zinc will form a thick vapor that is hazardous to our health.


Lee Bontecou
Eric Stephenson
Alexander Calder
Robert Klippel
Lynn Chadwick
Sol Lewitt
James Turell
Rebecca Horn
Antony Gormely
Rachel Whiteread
Richard Serra
Joseph Beuys
Bruce Nauman
Tony Cragg
Piet Mondrian

Project Gallery

Scratch Block Molds – Casting Forms in High Relief

Sheen Square72In this project the student will learn the process of developing a “Relief” metal casting using a Scratch Block, a sand block bonded with resin, to create a the negative or inverse of a final relief sculpture. Metal will be poured in the scratch block to create the finished form. The metal relief sculpture will be finished, chased using metal working tools. Then a dioxide and wax will be applied to the surface. And finally a strategy must be developed to display the relief form.

  1. Carve a relief form/composition into the scratch block. Your composition is open to your imagination. Develop a composition of your own design or from observation. Stay away from trite or cliche logos. Sketch your composition in your sketchbook in advance so that the image will fit the format.
  2. The forms should be developed off the back panel so that the objects are sculptural, three dimensional. This sculptural quality should utilize undercuts to create shadows as well as subtle transitions from dark to light foreground and background. Basically the forms should protrude off the panel or frame creating contrasting values, strong and subtle highlights and shadow.
  3. The relief form/composition in the scratch block is now considered a “Mold”. Metal will be used to fill the mold to create a “Casting”.
  4. Group Engagement: The form will be cast in metal using the foundry. A pour crew will be developed from the class to execute the metal pour.
  5. Chasing the form: Finish the form in its metal state in preparation for surface treatment. You will be using metal finishing tools: electric and pneumatic grinders, files, sand paper, steel wool, and other polishing tools.
  6. Apply a patina to the form by adding a Dye-oxide to color the form. Steel wool can be used to polish highlights on the form. Wax may be used to seal the form from further oxidation.
  7. Develop a mounting strategy to present the piece on the wall or other form of presentation for critique. Try to develop a system that is un-obtrusive or does not overwhelm your composition. Keep It Simple, Less is more.

Note: This process uses chemicals and materials that might be dangerous for some people. Read the MSDS (Material Safety Data Sheet) for questionable materials. Please use rubber gloves and a dust mask while using chemicals and chemically treated sand.

This project will incorporate the use of the foundry and “Extremely Hot Metal”. Safety and a disciplined studio etiquette should be followed during metal pours. Wear proper clothing if you intend to assist in the pour. No poly or poly blend clothing. 100 % Cotton clothing, leather covered shoes, safety glasses, Leathers and safety shields are required for this process.

Materials needed for this project:

  • Sand resin scratch block
  • Tools for scratching into sand mold, Metal tools work well.
    Steel wool
  • Foundry gear
  • Metal: Aluminum will be used for this project.
  • Two part adhesive (Epoxy)
  • Materials for mounting or presentation strategy.


If you wish to keep your sculpture, You are required to pay for the metal. Your aluminum piece will cost $4.00, if you wish to keep it.

Note: It is important to remember that to get a right reading image you should create any text and your image in a mirror image format on/in your mold. Be conscious in developing your relief sculpture, forms that you wish to fall back in the finished image area should project forward in your mold. Areas that you desire to protrude forward should fall back in your mold. It might fair you well to build a simple model (clay) of the desired forms to assist in developing these concepts and to have something to work from.

Student Gallery