Tape Sculpture

Art project helps student ‘stay connected’ with her military father
Posted on 01/14/2013

When Poplar Bluff Junior High art teacher Mary Ivie introduces her packing tape sculpture segment each school year, students come up with all types of ideas for objects to replicate, from their own arm holding a football to an entire motorcycle.

This past semester, a seventh grader brought in something with such sentimental value that faculty members were compelled to contribute to the piece to make it extra special for the intended recipient.

Samantha Crossen decided to create a tribute for her father Scott, who is presently deployed overseas in Okinawa, Japan as a member of the U.S. Marines, by sculpting his dress blue uniform hat and boot.

“When I first saw the project, tears about came to my eyes. It took my heart, seeing that she brought in her father’s boot,” Junior High Principal Bob Case admitted. “It isn’t just art – it’s a way for the family to stay connected. This is a story about a daughter and a father, and this military life they lead.”

To make the sculptures, students place five layers of packing tape sticky side up over the chosen object, five layers sticky side down, and then carefully carve off the solid mass. Ivie recently introduced the assignment to her Art I class, offering the first five students that brought in an object a chance to participate, since it is a more advanced technique.

“I was walking around my home, trying to come up with an idea when I thought of my dad’s uniform, and asked my mom if I can do it,” Samantha explained, adding that the Marines uniform has a very distinct look about it. “After my mom got ahold of my dad to see if it was OK, I brought (the hat and boot) in to class like the next day.”

Jennifer, Samantha’s mother, explained that she had never heard of this particular art medium, and wanted to make sure her husband did not have any concerns about his uniform being affected.

“He was more than happy to let her go through with it,” Jennifer recalled. “He was really taken aback that she was wanting to do that for him.”

The sculpture is the centerpiece of the now completed display. The transparent objects are mounted on a decoupage board, which includes several photos of the Crossens. There are two small American flags that were donated by Junior High librarian Nikki Davis, along with a wooden carve-out of the United States Marine Corps initials that industrial arts teacher Mike Melson contributed.

A former solider of the U.S. Army, Melson commented that he is glad to help out with anything that involves veterans and their families. “They just hold a special place in my heart,” he said. “If it weren’t for them, we wouldn’t have the freedoms that we do.”

Born in North Carolina and having relocated to Poplar Bluff by way of Texas last year, Samantha described how she moves around a lot, being a military daughter. The plus side is that she gets to see a lot of different places, she said. The downside: she often misses the new friends she has made along the way.

Scott, a master sergeant, has served the country for 17 years, including multiple tours of duty. He is slated to return home in August, when Samantha plans to present him the early Christmas gift which she believes he will proudly display on his bedroom dresser or in his office.


Cutline: PBJHS student Samantha Crossen, 12, recently paid homage to her father, Master Sgt. Scott Crossen, by making a sculpture of pieces of his U.S. Marines uniform in art class.

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