Stone, clay & wood

During the conception of the curriculum for the Waldorf schools Rudolf Steiner asked that from the beginning, grade one that is, all students should be introduced and practise painting,drawing and modeling. In addition to these subjects handwork, meaning fiber arts,gardening and later in grade 6 woodworking were introduced as practical arts so to speak.More of woodworking as a practical art shall follow later. I would like to speak here about stone,clay and wood in terms of sculptural arts and their role at different times during the journey from grade one to young adulthood. Simple organic forms, modeled in clay, can be introduced to the children during the first three grades already. The activity itself not only contributes to the overall well being of the children, but also sensitizes, awakens the whole hand to a new form of perception.

In addition to that, the neurological stimulation which takes place during the activity has positive effects on large parts of the neo cortex including the areas where speach and language are located. As we move through the grades, animal forms and plant gestures follow which will not attempt to copy nature, but try to capture the essential gesture of animals and organic growth forms.The students will now start to observe closer the objects of their modeling attempts whenever they encounter them. How are cats different from dogs, horses from cows, in their form and in their movement? Wild and domestic animals alike become subjects of our inquieries.

The path of a new "loving perception" is opened here. With these new skills we can now also introduce whittling of animals in wood or ccarving them out of soap stone.More crystaline forms and geometric solids come later, followed by masks and anatomical studies on various parts of the human sceleton in the context of anatomy. The laws of sculptural planes and composition are added and now we revisitt some subjects during high school art classes at an advanced level.At this point deeper questions may be explored, for example: what is our relationship as modern, western people to the world of plants,animals and our fellow humans?

How can we express joy, suffering or devotion through our art work? The culmination of the sculptural journey takes place when a junior or senior in highschool develops his or her own theme and works independently with the teacher only functioning as a mentor or guide. Besides sculpting, we also work with wood as a practical art. Carving wooden utensils, bowls, musical instruments and simple joinery for the creation of furniture have their place here. For this area Dr. Steiner requested that it be done in a professional way and setting, meaning the wood workshop, and that the things created must be beautiful and functioning.

Pine Mountain Arts offers workshops with stone, wood & clay.

     1st. unrevised draft.  All rights to this article rest with the author.Please do not use or copy without permission.