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Them bones.

Bones inherently stimulate one's imagination and sense of the mysterious. They seem ideal objects for the study of explicit shape and implicit expressive qualities. I demonstrated to my students how pre-Columbian and primitive cultures decorated natural, found objects (totems) in ways that they felt would give them greater power over nature. I emphasized that patterns, lines, colors and shapes exist in all objects and that these elements can give meaning and expressive power to any given form.

After their startled reaction to this problem, my students began planning where they were going to find a bone. Some had no further to look than their own dinner plates while others checked with the local butcher. The more adventuresome spent the afternoon eating munchies and dirt, traveling the desert in a four-wheel-drive vehicle in search of their prizes.

The students' task then was to decorate their found bones in ways that showed an appreciation for their qualities.

What to use

Any size bone will do: animal skulls, ribs, legs, vertebrae, wishbones or a deer antler--even pork chop bones. Then you need ink, felt-tipped markers, pencils, pens, acrylic paint, varnish or clear acrylic medium, very fine to medium brushes, dyes and food coloring.

How to go about it

a. Wash bone and dry thoroughly.

b. Determine a pattern or motif that is suitable to the bone shape.

c. Sketch pattern over total bone surface with a pencil, felt-tipped marker, pen or paint.

d. Color in design areas using dye, paint, ink, food coloring, etc. e. Varnish (optional).

The colorful surface treatment produced startling results. Students became sensitive to the subtleties and interdependence of objects, shapes, lines, colors and meanings, while onlookers were confronted with compositions that forced them to reconsider their old conceptions of bones.

Jennifer Williams is an art teacher in the Mountain Home High School, Mountain Home, Idaho.
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Title Annotation:decorating found bones
Author:Williams, Jennifer
Publication:School Arts
Date:Sep 1, 1990
Words:307
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