Plaster Mold Symbols



Students will make casts of their own symbols using clay and plaster.


Students will identify symbols in our environment.

Students will examine factors that influence symbols meaning.

Students will create symbols to convey message.


Keith Haring
Peter Max
James Rosenquist





Have students identify symbols that they are familiar with. Write them down on the board. Then have them examine the work of the above artists.

What are symbols that you see everyday? Where do you see them? What does it mean? What symbols do these artists use? Why do you think the artist chose to use that symbol? Do other objects in the work influence what that symbol means? What are some other factors that can influence what a symbol means?


Students are to think of a symbol that is personally relevant to them? It could be of anything. Their house, their friends or culture are good areas to inspire them. Have them begin by drawing out their ideas on paper. Then they are going to make plaster casts of their symbol by making a clay mold of their symbols.

Demonstrate to the students the procedure for making a plaster cast. First have them create a flat clay slab at least three to four inches thick. Then have them cut the slab into the shape of that symbol, for example a heart. When they are finished, they build walls around their symbol, at least four inches high. At this point their work should resemble a bowl shape. Then inside that shape they are going to press into or draw into the clay, creating relief designs that explain or tell a story about their symbol. The students slowly pour the plaster into their clay molds. Allow at least 15 minutes to set. When plaster has set peel off clay walls, and paint plaster (positive) with acrylic or tempera paints.


When the plaster has hardened, have students peel away the clay from the mold. They can paint the plaster cast with acrylic paint.

After the students have created their plaster molds have them write about why they have chosen this symbol and to explain the design that they created inside the symbol.

Will be based on the students' ability to use a symbol to convey a message. Their writing assignment will help determine what their message was in creating the symbol.


The author of this lesson, Deidre Kenna, a Masters in Art Education student of the School of Visual Arts in NYC, is the 2003-2004 scholarship recipient of the Keith Haring Scholarship award. This project is a collaboration with The School of Visual Arts & a local NYC public high school.

To find out more about The Keith Haring Foundation Scholarship offered through the School of Visual Arts, please contact: Director, School of Visual Arts/Visual Arts Foundation, 15 Gramercy Park South, NYC 10003 or SVA's web site.