Maori Tiki Soap Sculptures, Third Grade+
A Brief History:
Human figures are consistent throughout Maori wharenui- meeting houses built on sacred spaces that are decorated inside and out. They are like communal meeting spaces where the Maori will meet for weddings, funerals, and (what I assume is similar to) town hall functions. It is a domain of unity and peace, where people have to get along or step outside of the house to argue. Tikis can also be freestanding, often passing down from generation to generation as an heirloom. The color red is important to the Maori (for a number of reasons, primarily because of the myth of Rangi and Papa) and so "red ochre" is the name of the paint they create to paint the wharenui decorations red.
For this lesson, you will need:
- Bars of Soap (Red preferred)
- Plastic Knives
Note: This is an experimental lesson. Soap carving is not easy! We want students to have the experience of working with a diverse range of materials and approach it without fear. Following this idea, students should only be assessed based on two criteria: a) their tiki should be able to stand on the table by itself & b) the student should try to get rid of the logo on the soap unless it is an integral part of their design. If a soap block breaks in half while carving, tell students that they are lucky because now they get to make two tiki! There are no do-overs in this project. It is a problem-solving project and we do not give free passes.
1. This lesson should begin with a teacher demonstration of different ways to manipulate the soap. Explain about the cause and effect of what happens when we poke our knives into the soap too hard, how we create shavings with minimal pressure, how we can make circles by using the tip of the knife in a circular motion. If there is no teacher demo, students will approach this lesson feeling unsafe with a new material. Encourage students to develop their own methods of manipulating the material. The importance and difference of symmetry and asymmetry should come up in this discussion.
2. Let students take over! Teacher should observe and assist only when necessary.
3. Class convenes together, holds their tikis on a row of desks, and on the count of three, let go of their tikis at once to see if they stand! Teacher can mess with the kids by shaking the table for further "experimentation".
4. Lesson extension: Have the students pull out a piece of paper and write a story about their tiki. At the top of the page, have them sketch their tiki.
Art terms for this lesson:
Form, Space, Balance, Unity, Texture, Color, Carving, Technique, Craftsmanship