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Wristy business ... and the elements and principles of industrial design.

As art teachers, we are always trying to find new ways to motivate our students. It's a great feeling when we know that our students are really enjoying what they are doing!

I wanted to introduce a new painting project to my eighth grade art students--something that would be contemporary and would keep their attention. In short, a project they could get excited about. I noticed that many students wore Swatch watches and when someone would bring a new one to school, they would compare and discuss how "neat" it was. I recently saw an advertisement in a popular magazine featuring a large photo of a Swatch. I thought of having my students design and paint large watches.

When I introduced the project to my students, they were excited and couldn't wait to start. This gave them the chance to create something that related to their interests. This is a great project because it involves many of the elements and principles of design: line, shape, center of interest, color, movement and balance.


1. Introduce the watch designs by showing examples of real Swatch watches from catalogs.

2. Talk about the elements of design and discuss what contemporary art is.

3. Encourage students not to use the traditional watch faces, but to have only one or two numbers along with some marks representing the different times on the watch.

4. Have students make several small designs on scrap paper first.

5. Have students put their best design on 12" x 18" (30 cm x 46 cm) white tagboard.

6. Students paint their designs with tempera and fluorescent tempera paint.

7. Display the finished watches in a school showcase.

William Reed is the art teacher at Kesling Middle School, La Porte, Indiana.
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Title Annotation:designing watches project
Author:Reed, William S.
Publication:School Arts
Date:Apr 1, 1991
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