3D UNIT VII: Structures

Project VIIG



studio fundamentals: To introduce structural design principles as applied to three-dimensional problem solving.

concepts: to explore the possibilities of functional and expressive form within strict material and process limitations. To explore the realm of dreams and fantasy through sculptural form.

technical: to understand the functional requirements for literally "floating your boat."

Project Overview Your challenge is to create a functional sculpture--an actual boat--that alludes to the skipper's dreamlife or a personal fantasy.

Project References

Ted Uran, Jim White, Wooden Boat School, Boat Building Steps (Columbia), The Great Cardboard Boat Regatta
Vocabulary hull, lofting, pattern, spline-curve, ribs, thwarts, stems, gunwales, stern.


Believe it or not, corrugated cardboard. Your instructor will take you through the steps to make it functional.


1. Before coming to class read the concept area of Fantasy and the Unit VIII Discussion on Structures in the 3D matrix. Check out the Unit references.

2. Do some research in the library and on the Web in the area of "boat design." Look in particular for boats that emphasize "pleasing lines," symbolic references, or possess unique sculptural characteristics.


a) Make some initial "thumbnail sketches" of some boats you feel were interesting from your research.

b) Identify and design the key features that will make up the structural components of your sculpture. You will make a scale model of your boat in index bond paper (or thin styrene).

c) How can the functional requirements of your sculpture be integrated with the imagery you have selected? What materials, colors, supplemental surface markings, types of connectors, symbolism, figuration are appropriate?

d) See the steps for building a real cardboard boat in the following web link from the Great Cardboard Boat Regatta: http://www.gcbr.com/tips.html

d) Using your initial research, your thumbnail sketches, and your finished sculpture as resources, write a page that discusses your ideas and the final project. Put this page into your notebook.

e) Caution: Consider doing this process as a collaborative exercise. This is a very challenging project requiring a lot of hours of labor to pull it off.

Critique Ideas


When you have completed your sculpture, pair up with another artist and trade critiques. Consider the following:

1. Describe the techniques used to create the sculptures and explain how various aspects of the problem were addressed such as material choice, the problems specific to boat design, the integration of structural and aesthetic issues, etc.

2. How does your "dreamboat" compare with other boats you have seen?

3. Discuss ideas the artwork seems to communicate. After some sharing of interpretations, attempt to describe the effect of the work in one sentence. (This artwork is about...)

4. Test it! We will participate as a class in the Great Cardboard Boat Regatta / Rotary River Rally on a Saturday in April (Exact date TBD). Location: Tempe Town Lake



Your notebook should include the following:

1. Evidence of your research (print-outs from magazines, web searches, interviews, etc.).

2. Your design process (drawings, computer-printouts, photos, etc).

3. Supplemental materials (receipts, notes about techniques or materials)

4. Documentation of the final work and, if possible, a video clip of your boat in the water. Consider translating video clip into "Quicktime" movie suitable for viewing over the Web.

The above project was developed by Dan Collins.

Return to UNIT VII Overview