Clothespin Cantilever Sculpture


by Mar 28th, 2011 // Just for Fun, Math & Science, Sculptures

Clothespin Cantilever Sculpture

Clothespin Cantilever Sculpture

This coloring and balancing project was inspired by Nancy Rubins’ monumental boat sculptures.  Nancy Rubins is an American sculptor who has worked with such unusual and challenging materials as machinery, trailers, and airplane parts.

Clothespin Cantilever Sculpture

Nancy Rubins, Big Pleasure Point, 2006
Credit: Public Art Fund

Nancy Rubins had a recent show at Gagosian Gallery in Los Angeles and also recently installed a sculpture similar to the above artwork at City Center in Las Vegas.  Her current work includes amazing monumental sculptures made out of watercraft such as real and actually-used kayaks, canoes, and rowboats. They are feats of amazing engineering.  They are surprising and thrilling to look at.   If you can find one in your city to go see in person, your child will love it.   You can see a video showing the installation of Big Pleasure Point at Gagosian Gallery’s Nancy Rubin’s artist page.

For our canoe sculpture inspired art project we used clothespins, markers and an unsharpened pencil to make our own colorful cantilevered sculpture.

Clothespin Cantilever Sculpture

We took a bunch of clothespins and started coloring on them with our markers (if I call them pens, my kid scolds me).  Solid, patterns, letters, whatever looks good to you.  We worked on making patterns.  When you have about 10 colored, clip one or two onto your pencil.  You can work your way down your stick or start experimenting with clipping one clothespin on another until you have your own cantilever. It won’t always work but can be fun trying different ways to attach them.  Glue works well if you want to make your sculpture permanent.

Clothespin Cantilever SculptureClothespin Cantilever Sculpture

My kid insisted on putting clothespins all the way down his pencil. When we were done, I put two clothespins at the bottom and positioned them into a “v” to stand it up at an angle.  You will have to play around with the balance–it all depends on how much you’ve cantilevered out.

Do be careful that the clothespins don’t pinch little fingers.  My kid was very proud of his but, alas, our naughty wood-loving dog chewed it to bits.  Good thing there are 80 clothespins in a pack! Now for the instructions…

Clothespin Cantilever Sculpture

Prep Time: 5 minutes  Hands on Time: 20 minutes 

Glue Drying Time: 2 hours total

Clothespins (I found a pack of 80 at the $.99 Store)
Unsharpened Pencil
Styrofoam cup

Color the clothespins with markers. Stick the pencil into the upside down Stryofoam cup for stability. Put some glue (if you choose to glue) in the inside hollow of one of your clothespins and clip it about a ¼ inch from the top of the pencil.  Continue clipping clothespins to the pencil and clothespins already in place, using glue in the hollow when you attach to the pencil and above the hollow when attaching to other clothespins.  The glue takes awhile to dry so you have some flexibility with moving the clothespins around.

Let dry for at least an hour.

Remove the sculpture from the cup and glue two more clothespins to the bottom of the pencil in a “v” so that the sculpture stands at upright at an angle.  You will have to play with the balance until you get it right.  Let the bottom dry before you move it around.

Clothespin Cantilever Sculpture

clothes pin

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