Saturday Studio: Setting Sail!

Natalie McKibben, Education Intern

A Viking shop, with a wolfbat as the head, hangs from the ceiling of the galleries. On the sail of the ship is skateboarder Andy Kessler's portrait.
Dennis McNett, American, b. 1972. Andy Kessler: Vital Vessel. Wood, screenprint, linocut, and cloth, 2010. Gift of the Artist, 2021.02. Image courtesy of FWMoA.

Amongst the various pieces we’ve collected over the years is Dennis Mcnett’s Andy Kessler: Vital Vessels, a sculpture hand-carved and painted by the artist, now on display in A Century of Making Meaning: 100 Years of Collecting. Part of a set of three, collectively the ships are called the “Vital Vessels”, and each feature McNett’s bold line work and patterns. This vessel is embellished from top to bottom in graphic patterns and pictures.

Looking into an artist’s inspiration allows us to get a clearer picture of what they are trying to convey. McNett often draws inspiration from folklore and popular culture. In this piece, he specifically draws inspiration from historic Viking ships and influential skateboarder Andrew Kessler (depicted on the sails of the ship). In many of his pieces McNett depicts various Nordic myths, giving his own special spin on them. 

McNett’s vessels were first exhibited at FWMoA in the 2017 A Year of Making Meaning. Image courtesy of FWMoA.

Now let’s make a vessel of our own! Dennis Mcnett’s art is easily distinguishable due to his unique processes and style, which often incorporate various techniques, setting his work apart from the rest. He has used woodcut relief printing, wood carving, and papier-mâché, to name a few. For this activity, in lieu of wood and paint, we’ll be using materials you can find around your home!

You will need:

  • Paper
  • Toothpick
  • Scissors
  • Optional: pencils, pens, crayons, glue (for embellishment)

First, take a normal piece of paper (8 ½ x11) and fold it in half. Then, unfold it:

Next, fold the paper downward:

Then, fold the two top corners down towards the center crease:

Next, fold the edges on the front and back sides up:

Then, grab hold of the center on both sides, pull them out, and flatten:

Then fold the front and back bottom flaps up:

Next grab and pull the center. Pull and flatten once more:

Then pull the two top flaps outward:

Squish the bottom and pull the sides out, and we have the bottom of our ship!

Decorate your ship!

Next cut out a small square from a piece of paper (this will be our ship’s sails):

Be sure to decorate your sail so other boats can identify you on the open sea!

Next, hold the top and the bottom of the paper together (be careful not to fold it!) and push your toothpick through the paper:

Lastly, push the bottom of your toothpick through the center of your ship. Now it’s ready to set sail!

If you take your boat out for an adventure, we suggest waterproofing it with packing tape or something similar. Repeat the steps to make a whole fleet, or flotilla!

Leave a Reply

error: Right click disabled for copyright protection.