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Ms. Pitts' Description of "Kudzu Ant" Creation Process
#1- I was given the Volunteer Dinner PICNIC theme to work with. The first thing that popped into my head was ants. This was inspired by Patrick Dougherty, who recently constructed a stickworks project on the ETSU campus. I gave the students some pictures of ants and they made a few sketches that were simplified to represent the fact that the natural materials would not allow for great detail.
#2- We started with an inner structure to support the weight of the sculpture. Our support structure was a long sturdy stick with 3 short sticks that crossed at 90 degree angles with the main one (backbone)-at intervals that would support the structure and would represent the places where legs would be found on an ant's body. The short ones were like hip joints to support the legs. Once the 3 cross sticks were in place by lashing them to the backbone- we checked sturdiness and made sure there was little movement.
#3- Next we added the legs- segments of KUDZU vine about 2-3 lashed together for strength and then lashed to the "hip" segments. The legs were then bent downward and the "knee" joint was fixed by lashing from the "knee' to the "backbone".
#4- Next came wads of molded newspaper into ovals on top of the backbone and under the backbone so they would appear as ovals to represent the segments of the ants body. At this point the sculptures were starting to look like ants. The balls of newspaper were fixed to each other and to the existing structure with masking tape.
#5- Kudzu vines were taken and cut into segments about 12 inches long. These were then split in half lengthwise. They were then lined next to each other onto a piece of masking tape in a line about 5 inches long and then pressed onto the END of each ant. These ends were then bent over to mold over the end and were attached underneath with another piece of masking tape. This step was repeated with the segments being bent on top of the first set to cover most of the end of the ant at the head and the abdomen.
#6- Kudzu vines were prepared , harvesting the vines from the woods, which we placed in a bucket. The kudzu was hand split into halves or quarters depending on thickness. Some pieces were a very thin strip of thin bark, almost like string. Others were sturdier and a larger diameter that would cover newspaper well. Students then wrapped the pieces of vine over the newspaper, tucking it in at the beginning and end in a fashion that would hold it. Throughout most of the steps, the word "tension" was always addressed.
#7- After the body was covered, including the places where the body segments were joined, each of the six legs were wrapped with the thinner type pieces of vine.
#8- Some of the students gave a name to their ant and the antennae were done last, by sticking a piece of Kudzu vine into the head that was fashioned into the desired curvature.
The ants were then used as decorations, placed in artificial trees, surrounding the dinner tables!