Del Rey students weld the sculpture "Wild Thing." Photo C. Dausman
Fifty years after the musical group Troggs sang about "Wild Thing," a group of Del Rey School students gave life to a Wild Thing of their own.
Their white welded metal sculpture is currently on display in Orinda Library Plaza, something professional sculptor John Toki believes to be "a first in elementary school art education." Toki was recruited for the project by his wife, Del Rey's instructional support provider Pam Stefl Toki.
"The goal for this project was to provide the young students with a sculpture art experience, from welding to installing a completed sculpture in a public space," Toki said. But he wanted this to be about more than a one-time welding experience. "I wanted the students to see a piece built and installed, (something) rarely ever seen in any school setting," he said.
The project began last June during the school's first STEAM- (science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics) filled Maker's Day. Principal Kirsten Theurer, who says she is "very motivated by project-based learning" said Maker's Day was "rather amazing" and calls the school's sculpture a very wonderful piece. Toki and certified welder Amanda Larson provided guidance.
Larson, a welding trade school graduate, provided head to toe safety equipment as she guided fifth-grade students, boys and girls alike, through a user friendly welding process which she likened to using a hot glue gun with metal instead of paper.
"The kids have no fear, (because) they have never welded before," observed another volunteer, professional sculptor Gale Wagner.
Ted Urban manages sculpture installations in Orinda; he helped students arrange the steel parts before they were welded. Stefl Toki said although several names were initially considered for the sculpture Wild Thing was the unanimous student choice. Three students assembled the sculpture at Toki's Richmond studio; two more delivered the finished work to the plaza. Ultimately more than 20 students took part in the welding project. Wild Thing will remain on display at Orinda Library Plaza for one year, after which the piece returns to Del Rey School where it will reside permanently. A video produced by Del Rey parent and documentary filmmaker Reka Pigniczky is also available online at https://youtu.be/D84WmiKMch8
Wild Thing student welders:
Isaac Reader Taatjes