Biomorphic Plaster Form

  • Create a plaster biomorphic form that is interesting from all sides (it should “lead” the eye around).
  • Work with plaster and stone carving tools to gain familiarity with their abilities/limitations.

"In painting and sculpture biomorphic forms or images are ones that, while abstract, nevertheless refer to, or evoke, living forms such as plants and the human body. The term comes from combining the Greek words bios, meaning life, and morphe, meaning form. Biomorphic seems to have come into use around the 1930s to describe the imagery in the more abstract types of Surrealist painting and sculpture particularly in the work of Joan Miró and Jean Arp (see automatism). Henry Moore and Barbara Hepworth also produced some superb biomorphs at that time, and later so did Louise Bourgeois." (The Tate Museum's on-line Glossary:

By working with an initially hand-formed bag of plaster you will be making one sculpture. You should be very concerned with the FORM of this sculpture. Look closely at all contours, which on a sculpture, means in-the-round. Minute changes can make a huge difference in how the parts of your sculpture relate to each other. Match your curves, both inside and out, think about Balance and Movement and possibly Emphasis.

Your sculpture must:
  • Have consciously formed contours that work with all other contours in the sculpture.
  • Have at least 3 trapped negative spaces, with the possibility of one or more that pierce the form.
  • Have a deliberately treated surface; there must be texture somewhere.

Student Work (of course, these are made from clay, but they are similar to what you will be doing)

You should start with properly mixing and pouring it into a plastic bag. Use about 3/4 a big yogurt container of water and start with one full yogurt container of plaster. You will be manipulating your plaster to form the initial shapes of your sculpture.
Once you see the plaster shape you will be starting from, make sketches of what it could look like. Keep refining your sketches as your sculpture gets refined.
You will be using carving tools to find the forms, both positive and negative within your plaster.

After your plaster is in the bag, Please find one sculpture by each of at least four of the following artists. Your choices may be non-objective or not, but should be out of stone or plaster or clay. Print out the four and tape/glue them into your sketchbook. Next to each, please write about the relationship between positive and negative space in the piece. You may not start on your plaster until you have done this work and done some sketching as planning for YOUR sculpture.

Please work outside if possible and use safe carving habits. Per usual, take care with tools and dust.

"Tate | Glossary | Biomorphic." Tate: British and International Modern and Contemporary Art. Web. 09 May 2011. <>.