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3D Design: Staircases

Foam board Staircase Sculpture


Design a 3D staircase using abstract shapes and foam board.


Art Prof Caution

Utility Knives are extremely sharp and it’s really easy to cut yourself by accident!  Always wear a kevlar glove on your hand which is not holding the knife to prevent injuries. Hot glue guns can get really hot! Be very careful not to drip any hot glue on yourself while working. Always prop the hot glue gun up so the tip is not touching any surface. 

Art Supplies: Cutting Mat
Art Supplies: Hot Glue Gun
Art Supplies: T-Square
Art Supplies: Utility Knife
Art Supplies: Hot Glue Sticks
Art Supplies: Foam Board


8 concept sketches:  
4” x 5” pencil drawings in a sketchbook

1 structural drawing:  9” x 12” pencil drawing in a sketchbook

3D model:  any size in foam board


Martha Clark

“Working on this project forced me to consider the art making process as more than a technical exercise. Making art with an explicit purpose, even one as simple as a staircase, taught me to approach my art from a more active perspective, with the same critical attention that I would afford to an essay or a science experiment.”

Foam board Staircase Sculpture

Cindy Chen

“This was a challenging project given that it required meticulous cutting of the foam board. The project was fun at the same time; the project gives few boundaries to what your staircase can be like. Through this project I learned to execute my ideas by making sketches, calculating ratios, creating small models, and taking every little detail into consideration. This experience taught me that design is about incorporating aestheticism with practicality.”

1. Concept Pencil Sketches
Foamboard Staircase Sculpture, Ellie Lee

Ellie Lee

“I really liked this project. To be honest, I had a lot of trouble with it in the beginning. I had trouble brainstorming and I felt like nothing that came to mind was good enough. I had never done a project like this before. When creating the final piece, I kept thinking it was too small in size and somehow ‘not right.’ So while the final product is something that I do really like now, I think it was the process that really helped me learn. I learned that good ideas don’t develop easily and often times you have to add on and work with what you have.”

Structural Pencil Drawing
Foam board Staircase Sculpture

Olivia Lu

“Because it was the first time I was using foam board as a medium, the process in carving out shapes and gluing pieces together seemed mostly spontaneous. Even though design is about planning and structure, I learned from Prof Lieu that sometimes you shouldn’t be afraid to do ‘too much’ because you can find a new ways to work with it—it’s all about experimenting with what you have.”

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