Students in professor Neil Lawley’s 3-Dimensional Design class worked diligently on an assignment to design and make a personal flotation device, also known as a life jacket.
The basic requirements for the project were that the flotation device be well-designed, both aesthetically and functionally, be able to buoy the students’ weight in the pool and be re-useable.
The material guidelines of the assignment were open, using as much found recycled materials as possible.
Lawley discussed the goals, purpose and expectations of the projects.
“One of our goals in this class is to use as little first-source material as possible, so most of the materials for this class will be found or gathered by the students,” Lawley said. “Not only is this ecologically responsible, but also fiscally sustainable.”
The 3-Dimensional Design course is part of the Department of Art Foundations classes. It is a required course for all art majors.
In this course, students learn and utilize basic concepts and terms associated with 3-dimensional design, improve hand skills, focus on craftsmanship and learn to speak and write clearly about their own work and the work of other artists.
All of the students in the class had several different concepts and ideas for making the project work. Kristin Powers, a junior at Western, is making her flotation device out of tennis balls.
“I am using tennis balls because I researched them and found out that they would float,” Powers said. “I had to add a lot more tennis balls than I thought I would to make it work. It has been interesting.”
Sophomore Natasha Hatcher is making her device out of foam noodles and holding it together with duct tape.
“I used a sewing mannequin to form the life jacket and to fit it,” Hatcher said.
Junior Liesl Poet is making an inter tube using empty plastic pop bottles.
“I got the pop bottles from friends and I plan on recycling them all when I am done,” Poet said. “The concept was harder for me to think of then the making of the actual project.”
Lawley said that he is really excited about the project. The students all tested their flotation devices in the pool in the Looney Center last Friday. Grades were based on whether or not the student was able to stay afloat in the deep end of the pool.
This project will be followed by a similar but more challenging project.
Next week, students will begin building boats to test in a pond on Western’s campus. However, no wood can be used. The students are up for the challenge again.