The Cost of Water, Emma Beier

The Process: 

The Final Product:

             In eighth grade, I was a member of, ironically, the Soap Club, which was for students interested in philanthropy initiatives. Throughout the year we focussed on one aspect of the world’s water crisis, where girls, forced to collect water for their families, are unable to receive an education. These young women must spend many hours gathering water for their family because they do not have an adequate water source in their home or nearby. According to the United Nations, “women and girls in low-income countries spend 40 billion hours a year collecting water,” which is time that could be spent in school. Due to their lack of education, these girls no longer have control over their future, unprepared for what is to come. This issue really spoke to me. When given the guidelines for the soap carving project, I knew that I wanted to design something around this topic. After researching a few different ideas, I chose an icon of a female bust. I felt this image well represented my topic because the bust could have been that of any of the girls affected by this crisis, representing how widespread the issue is.

               Once choosing this image, I traced the different sides of my bar of soap onto a piece of paper. I then attempted to sketch my icon from each vantage point. From there, I cut out the image of my icon, and traced the drawing onto my bar of soap. When making my first attempt to carve the female’s bust, I moved way too fast, impatient to see my idea come to life. Additionally, I did not design any steps that I wanted to follow, causing my work to be sloppy. Unfortunately, I had to get a new bar of soap and start over. Although this was difficult, it did teach me the importance of not rushing. I learned that although it takes more focus and patience, it is better to move slowly, working at the carving section by section. Before approaching the project a second time, I created a mental list of steps that I was going to follow. By following this list, I completed my sculpture in a second attempt. As I worked, I discovered how slight changes altered a viewer’s outlook on my piece. In the beginning of the semester, we looked at past soap carvings, trying to determine what issue they represented. At the time, I really struggled to do so. However, since my discovery, I can identify what artwork symbolizes more easily by first examining the small details and then trying to determine what it represents. Once finishing my icon, I then casted my hand.

                After trying a few different concepts, I ended up casting my hand clenched and claw-like. Through my casting, I hoped to convey the idea that society has an unjust grip on a woman’s access to education. To cast my hand, I placed it in alginate for about thirteen minutes to create a mold that I then filled with plaster. Two days after this process, I removed the alginate from the bucket and very carefully carved off the alginate until I found my casting. I did not intend for my hand to have so many cracks, but in the end, I liked the affect. They leave me with the feeling that the sculpture has been deprived of water, which is the case for many of the girls affected by this issue. 

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