3D art takes shape virtually

Missing facetime, students struggle to match pace

Twelve pounds of bagged clay sits on your desk alongside an array of shaping and cutting tools, and a spray bottle and a small bowl of vinegar are nearby. After struggling to follow along with the instructions via Zoom, the strange shapes of clay start to form a hand. 

After weeks of blending, scoring, trimming, and shaping fine details, a finished hand presents itself. Your new masterpiece lays secured inside a plastic bag, all to be accidently thrown out by your mom, mistaken for a bag of trash in your room.  

3D Art, also known as Crafts, is one of the most engaging and hands-on classes at Miramonte, but it’s not easy in a virtual setting.

 Students found it extremely difficult to sculpt at home. “The hardest part about doing Crafts online is not being able to see other people’s work because then you can’t learn from it,” Miramonte junior Lindsey Lucas said. 

Students are unable to build off each other’s ideas over Zoom, which was a very beneficial tactic during in-person school. 

Gavin Kermode, Miramonte’s 3D Art 1 and 3D Art 2 teacher, has also endured the ups and downs of virtual teaching. “I divided up 4,000 pounds of clay into individual bags for pick up, ordered 140 sets of tools for each student and have to rely on pictures for work submission in terms of grading until the final product is dropped at my door, contact-free, for final firing,” Kermode said. 

For most students in 3D Art, this is one of their first times working with clay. Through trial and error, many students had to learn the hard way to properly store and use clay to not let it dry out. Learning how to create projects using clay relies heavily on visuals. Zoom presents itself to be quite difficult to uphold this task with frequent glitching and poor quality of computer cameras, not to mention daily internet issues. 

Though faces are on the same screen on Zoom, it’s not the same as being together in person. “One of the best parts of teaching my class is the random conversations and engagement I have with the kids every day, so I miss that,” Kermode said. 

Another downside to participating in 3D Art virtually is the struggle of working at the same speed as other students. “The hardest thing is probably keeping up with the steps when making projects because everyone moves at their own pace,” sophomore Jake Disston said. 

Although 3D Art isn’t the same experience as it would be in person, there are some benefits to doing Crafts virtually. All materials used in 3D Art now live at students’ homes. Fortunately, this allows for unlimited access to their projects, beyond just class time. 

“A benefit that comes along with doing 3D Art, is that it takes away the stress from other subjects because I get to go at my own pace and work on it whenever,” sophomore Megan Doran said. 

Virtual classes force teachers to think outside of the box, and in some ways, this has been beneficial. 

“The most positive thing that has come out of teaching virtually is that it has forced me to come up with new projects and processes for this model. The kids can’t do metal casting at home so we’ve had the time to focus on a lot more sculpture, which is my personal favorite, and I’ve been incredibly impressed with their creativity,” Kermode said.

After recovering your hand from the trash can and getting countless apologies from your mom, the moment of truth awaits as you untie the bag. All the details and shaping stayed intact. A miniature celebration is held as your clay hand is placed back onto your desk. One, two, three, four … wait isn’t there supposed to be five fingers? Your mom’s face turns red and you both race back to the trash can to find the missing pinky finger.