Magazine article School Arts

African Influence

Magazine article School Arts

African Influence

Article excerpt

As art teachers, we are all looking for ideas that spark our students' interests. This lesson, making African-inspired, repousse foil pendants, provides for a variety of student interpretations while giving them a sense of accomplishment and success. We begin by discussing the purposes of body ornamentation. Students indicate that jewelry often conveys wealth, status, and power. This discussion serves as a catalyst for introducing Asante gold pectoral pieces called kra.

Asante Kra

Young male servants who acted as messengers and observers for the Asante king often wore these pendants. The British Museum Web site has several images that illustrate the use of line, pattern, and rhythm incorporated into these designs. I ask my students to hypothesize about the construction process and this leads into an explanation of repousse and metal tooling. Both techniques create a design that protrudes from the metal by using tools to push the design forward from the reverse side of the piece. Each student is given the assignment to create a unique pectoral piece.

Glass Gems

Since a piece of kiln-fired glass can be used to create emphasis on the pendant, I prepare the glass "gems" in advance for the students to use. I collect a variety of colored glass from discarded bottles, place the bottles inside two pillowcases lone case inserted inside the other), and use a hammer to break up the bottles. Small broken pieces of stained glass also work well for making glass gems.

Next, I apply shelf primer (found at stained-glass suppliers) or regular kiln wash to the shelves and let it dry. I arrange the broken pieces of glass on the shelves so they don't touch and fire the kiln in the range of cone 015 to cone 013. The edges of the glass should become rounded and safe for the students to handle. scraped off. I prefer to use the shelf primer because it doesn't stick to the back of the fired gems.

The Repousse Process

Give each student a piece of metal tooling foil and a piece of mat board or cardboard. …

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