Copper Repousse Mural

 

Mural project by Shirley Dieffenbach, art teacher, Williamsport High School, Williamsport, PA. School Arts Magazine, June 1965

Mural project by Shirley Dieffenbach, art teacher, Williamsport High School, Williamsport, PA. School Arts Magazine, June 1965

Here is a write up of a BIG copper repousse group art project for high school. It was written by art teacher Shirley Dieffenbach and appeared in School Arts Magazine, June 1965.

“I had considered the idea for several years of using a craft project for a mural or wall hanging to enhance our school building.

I wanted this group project to be one where many students would have a chance to participate and display their combined yet individual artistic expression.

The students chose copper metal repousse for the medium and technique.  Initially I motivated the students by demonstrating the process of tooling on copper and showing various completed pieces of work.  After their enthusiasm had been brought to a high pitch I suggested that we all pool our efforts in both Art II classes of approximately 30 students, each of which included students with good, bad, or indifferent art ability.  In several cases this craft demonstrated that students with limited art ability or talent could accomplish a successful work.

The subject we chose to illustrate, as a group, was the various phases of our high school life. After hours of research to make sure we had listed all the departments and activities of our school, we launched the project and each art students chose one activity to illustrate.  The design could proceed from either one of an abstract nature or from a realistic approach, depending on how the student wished to work.

After a week or two some of the finished pieces were completed, including the oxidizing and polishing processes which definitely enhanced the finished projects. A coat of brushing lacquer was was brushed on each piece to preserved the polished luster.

We then chose the proper setting where we wanted the mural to hang and ordered the plywood and frame lumber on which the individual pieces of meal work were to be mounted.

Several students were chosen to lay out the various pieces so as to form a balanced and interesting arrangement. Between the individual pieces of work we nailed stripping of half round wood, which was stained a dull green to complement the color of the polished copper.  This wood stripping was measured and cut to fit around the particular space and in such as way as to hold the metal piece in place.  The students who had some carpentry experience fitted, mitered, cut and nailed the pieces together to give it a finished professional look.

As each student finished his individual piece of work, he was most interested in observing how the whole pattern would finnaly fall into place.  They were beginning to visualize the finished copper mural as it might look hanging on the wall of the foyer of our school.

Our goal was to have it installed by commencement time, which we accomplished after a great deal of effort on everyone’s part. The end result has been a most rewarding teaching-learning experience. The combined expression of delight and interest form both faculty and students has brought the Art department a great deal of publicity, commendation, and support which is always welcome by both faculty and students.  However, the greatest value to come from such a group endeavor is to hear the remarks of pride from the many students who contributed their individual artistic effort to a common esthetic goal.”

High school students create group art mural using individual copper repousse designs.

High school students create group art mural using individual copper repousse designs.

These black and white photos do not do the mural justice. I looked around the web for a color photo, hoping this mural was still hanging 50 years later.

Looks like the mural is no longer around, but guess what? The art teacher is!

On January 8, 2014, art teacher Shirley Dieffenbach turned 94 years old. She is the oldest living art teacher in Williamsport, PA. Click here to learn about her. I am honored to share her work so that others can benefit from it.

Enjoy!

Happy Throwback Thursday! Stop by on Thursdays to see what other cool things I’ve unearthed from my stash of vintage art ed magazines.

 

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4 thoughts on “Copper Repousse Mural

    • You got a soul sister out there somewhere, Phyl! I look through these vintage magazines and see the clothes I wore…it’s pretty trippy!

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