Monday, March 4, 2013

Plaster house sculpture in the style of Ndebele Painted Houses

This lesson is based on the brightly painted houses of the Ndebele in South Africa. 
It was a great lesson on sculpture, architecture, and style.

My sixth grade has had a year-long focus on "style"- what it means, how to identify it, variations in, etc.
In addition to looking at the houses we discussed how a style can influence other art for years to come and how we can identify style. 
To help identify key Ndebele style characteristics we looked at these images after looking at the houses:

-Materials List for this Lesson-
empty milk cartons, 
mat board (6 x 8" ish)
plaster strips
glue gun
mat board scraps
model magic
pencil and rulers worked to draw right on the plaster
Tempera - some cracked
we used some Acrylic as well to prevent it from flaking off more
Acrylic medium for sealing or sometimes I mixed it into the tempera
*If I had an outdoor space (and not been in the middle of the city) I would have taken them all outside and spray coated them.

We collected empty milk cartons and rinsed them out. 
My school has a subscription to Brainpop- we watched the "sculpture" video.
This explained how an armature works as well as different types of materials used the kids were unfamiliar with. Then we talked about using the milk cartons as armatures for the houses.
I hot glued them to mat board and then we covered them in plaster strips.

The Gates 
This is where we discussed architectural design.
The students cut up mat board scraps and arranged them where they wanted them.
I hot glued them together. 
They covered them in a thin layer of model magic to create a plaster-like texture when it dried.

The design and painting was up the students. 
They had to consider geometric designs, patterning, and bold colors. 
Drawing with pencil on the plaster before painting worked well. 

Beginning painting stages:

They painted the gates separately and I hot glued them on with folded mat board tabs behind them to support. This worked well.

Additional resources:
(I was unable to find any good/useful short videos.)
Ndebele: The Art of a Painted Tribe by Margaret Courtney-Clark
April 2012 Ndebele Inspired Houses lesson in School Arts


  1. Wow! What a marvelous blog! I'm starting to follow you, I'm very glad to know you and your work. Thanks to sharing your creativity!
    Miriam from "arteascuola"

  2. What a wonderful post. Thank you! I have been looking for architecture lessons and love this African-Inspired one.
    Great blog!