Paper Sculpture

Transforming paper from two dimensions to three dimensions connects collage with sculpture.

Sculptures can be wood or metal or clay or cement but a sculpture can’t be FLAT.  So to make a sculpture from a flat piece of paper the artist needs to change the paper.  The easiest way is to fold it in half, so it can stand. Some sculptures stand on a base.  To attach the folded paper to the base you may have to fold up flaps on both sides to make a surface for gluing.  This form can be turned this way and that.  A tiny car could drive though it.  If you roll up a rectangle, you get a cylinder.  It can fit inside your folded shape; it can support your base, it can pierce your folded shape. To make a surface for the glue you can cut several slits on one side and fold them up.  How else can you change the paper so it is not flat any more?

Here are some paper sculpture materials and tools; you have used some of them for collage already.

  • Construction paper
  • White glue
  • Scissors
  • Edger scissors
  • Paper punch
  • String: to cut, pull out a piece, hold tight, have a friend help you cut
  • Brass Fasteners
  • Transparent tape

Attachment Materials

Beginning Sculpture: Attachments

When you build sculptures it is important to be able to make your great ideas stay together!  Here are some ways to put things together for construction.

To the materials and tools we used for collage and paper sculpture we will add:

  • Masking tape
  • Pipe cleaners and/or wire
  • Medium and small corrugated cardboard scraps, various shapes
  • Small pieces of tagboard
  • Two hole punch

Here are some attachments to practice:

  1. Two cardboard pieces side by side: run a piece of masking tape along the joint. BURNISH the tape. Flip the cardboards over and repeat.
  2. Cardboard standing up: after above steps, fold up one cardboard.
  3. Add more strength: “triangle” brace: add a small right triangle touching both pieces of cardboard.
  4. Notice the two kids of cardboard: tagboard is one layer; corrugated cardboard is like a sandwich of rippled paper covered on both sides with straight paper. The ripples form little channels or tunnels that you can see from two sides of the cardboard.  A wire or pipe cleaner can be run through a channel and stick out both sides.  This can help with attaching!
  5. To drill holes for the brass fasteners, use the two hole punch: it gives you more power to punch through the thick cardboard.

How else can you connect cardboard pieces?  What could you build using these techniques?

  • Test your pieces by shaking them.  Are there loose places?  How can you make your attachments stronger?
  • Test your pieces by turning them upside down.  Make any improvements that you need.
  • Look at your tape.  Along with holding your sculpture together, it needs to look good.  Is it nice and flat?  Could the tape be a visual part of your work? (example, masking tape made in to a sidewalk in front of a building)

Resources:  Beautiful Stuff (Cathy Topal and Lela Gandini)