Miniature Worlds: Casting the Curiosity Cabinet

Winter 2019
Freshman - Senior
Class Size: 18
12 16 Credits per quarter
Variable credit options, see below
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In this intensive studio-art program, students will use small-scale three-dimensional (3D) casting processes to produce work that creatively considers the history of curiosity cabinets, public art collections, and natural history museums. We will investigate the effects that collecting, observing, and reproducing the natural world has had on historical and contemporary art and design.

All students are welcome to enter this program with 3D skills at any level. Beginners will be challenged, and students with more experience in 3D art and metalsmithing will have the opportunity to deepen skill levels and develop conceptual content. 

Using specimens from Evergreen’s Natural History Museum we will start by sketching and modeling from direct observation of flora and fauna. Students will learn how to carve miniature wax models, and then translate their two-dimensional observations into three-dimensional wax miniatures in preparation for bronze and silver alloy casting. Students will learn mold-making, and work in collaborative teams to execute centrifugal and vacuum casting methods. The use of organic matter as a casting medium will be discussed, and casting directly from botanical specimens will be demonstrated. By the end of the program students will produce a portfolio of critical and observational writings, annotated drawings, documentation of wax carving designs and technical notes, as well as multiple finished pieces in bronze or silver. Early in the quarter we will take a full-day field trip to visit collections, including the Henry Art Gallery in Seattle.

Weekly readings and seminars will examine the historical development of cabinets of curiosities, including the colonial implications of European natural history collecting. We will look at the cross-cultural use of floral and animal motifs in adornment and sculpture, and what jewelry can tell us about changing ideas about the human body as part of, or exterior to, the natural environment. We will consider the formal and aesthetic qualities of dissection and objects taken out of their environment, and the relationship between observing nature and the development of industrial production methods. 


Winter 2019 Registration

Course Reference Numbers

Fr (16): 20326
So - Sr (16): 20385
Fr (12): 20386
So - Sr (12): 20388
(1 - 16): 20581

Academic details

Fields of Study
Preparatory For

Art, Design, Education, Museum Studies

Variable Credit Options

Students can take this program for 12 or 16 credits. Students in this program should expect to spend a total (in class + independent work time) of 30 hours a week at the 12 credit level, or 40 hours a week at the 16 credit level. Students taking this program for 16 credits will engage in a more in-depth research and writing project related to program themes.

Maximum Enrollment
Class Standing

$125 Student fee will cover museum entrance costs, and a basic kit of metals and materials to use in required projects throughout the quarter. 

Special Expenses

Additional materials will be available for individual purchase, and students may choose to spend $25 to $100, on average, to cover more extensive projects.


In Person or Remote
In Person
Time Offered
Schedule Evergreen link
see Schedule Evergreen for detailed schedule

First Meeting

SEM 2 E4115 - Critique