Monday, November 28, 2016

Clay 3 : Dragons

Week Two of our Clay 3 After school workshop. This week's focus was a favorite among students, Dragons.

Materials Needed
Sketchbooks and pencils
Low fire white clay
Clay tools
Canvas mats for surface working
Cardboard bats for storing work

1. We began this week's lesson by looking at dragon sculpture from around the world, and discussing size, materials used, dragon lore and more. Students spent a few minutes drafting ideas in their sketchbooks, considering different body shapes, surface textures,  and added features like fire.

2. I gave students two pieces of clay, one for the dragon, and one for a base of some kind.  They formed a rock or platform of some type to set their dragon on.

3. Several students had observed that many of the dragons had serpentine body shapes, so we began our sculptures with thick, snakelike bodies, then adding legs, tails, wings and other body features. All bits were attached securely using the slip and score method. 

4. Tools were used in different ways to create surface texture like those found on scales, fur, wings, claws, etc. We considered the expressive features we'd add to the faces to indicate qualities of our dragons' temperaments. 

5. Students were reminded to turn the sculptures around and observe all sides, checking for securely attached parts and evenly decorated surfaces.

6. We looked over the finished pieces and briefly discussed the body shapes used, the decorative features, use of materials, and dragon personalities expressed in facial features.

7. Dragons are set aside to dry and will be fired and later glazed.


Clay 3 : Storytellers, Dragons, Gargoyles and more

Original Story Teller Figure by Helen Cordero
Helen Cordero at work on a Story Teller figure
Clay 3  Story Tellers 

This was a five week after school clay workshop for students in grades 3, 4, and 5.  Building on skills learned in previous classes, we moved forward in doing figurative work with animal and human themes. 

For the first week, we focused on the work of Cochiti Pueblo artist Helen Cordero, who began her art journey making ceramic vessels, but later changed direction and moved into doing figurative work.  We looked at her Story Teller figures, based on her childhood memories of time with family. 

Materials Needed
Sketchbooks and pencils
White low fire clay
Clay tools
Canvas mats for work surface

1. We looked at photos of Helen Cordero at work on her Story Teller figures, observing the adult figures, the size and location of the child figures, colors used, facial expressions, etc.

2. We discussed family traditions of story telling and reading, recalling our own experiences.

3. Students spent a few minutes making quick drawings in their sketchbooks to generate ideas for their own version of a story telling figure. 
They needed to include:
                          -One large figure, human or animal
                          -Open mouth on the large figure 
                          -Two or more smaller figures added to original

4. I gave each student two pieces of clay. One for the main figure and one for the smaller ones.  For the larger figure, they rolled out a ball for a head, two long snakes (one for arms and one for legs) and a squarish shaped piece for the trunk of the body.

5. They attached the arm snake across the top of the body, and the leg snake at the bottom, attaching with slip and score technique. Heads were added on last and shaped to include necks. Most everyone made their figure seated for stability.
Bending the legs, the figures were placed on pieces of mat board so students could move their pieces around and work from all sides. 

6. Next, using modeling tools, students added details (clothing, hair, facial expressions, etc) .

7. For tiny figures, we took a small ball of clay and squeezed a neck and head shape at one end. They looked like small bowling pins. Two cuts were made in the sides for arms, and one cut on the bottom, so the two parts could be separated into legs. Students then went to work creating tiny versions of the larger figure and adding them to the large figure securely.

8. Pieces were examined for strength and cracks were smoothed over with fingers.

9. Pieces were allowed to dry for later firing and glazing.
This lesson was one hour in length, with 10 minutes added at end for clean up.
Pieces will later be fired and decorated with bisque stains, using a 3 color palette, in keeping with traditionally decorated Story Teller figures.