Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Clay 3 : Reception and Exhibition of Children's Clay Art

Student's display
 We completed our Clay After school workshop for students in third through fifth grades. During the five sessions, we created Story Teller Figures, Dragons, Gargoyles, and Vessels, using a variety clay and finishing techniques. At the completion of each workshop, we hold a Reception and Exhibition. Students self curate their work and this event provides an opportunity for them to showcase their work and answer parents' questions about the various topics and techniques they learned over the course of the workshop.

Special thanks to art teacher Sarah Sheckells for making this possible. Also, to local artist Tina Preece for her classroom assistance and expert firing of students' work.
Story Teller, Dragon, Gargoyle, and dish
Gargoyle, Story Teller, Dragon, and dish
Cat Gargoyle
Animal Story Teller Figure
Glazed Dragon
Display of visuals used during the workshop
More visuals used during the course
Completed dish
Completed dish

Clay 3 : Dishes inspired by Nature

Student made dish using natural materials
Week 4 of our Clay 3 After school workshop for students in grades 3 through 5. The main focus this week was on using a slab technique to create a footed vessel.

Materials Needed
Sketchbooks and pencils
Low fire white clay
Food safe glazes
Canvas mats for work surface
Clay tools
Assorted collection of branches, leaves, stones, shells, etc.
Newspaper and masking tape
Cardboard bats for storage of pieces during drying

1. We looked at and discussed different types of vessels people use for various reasons.  

2. We spent a few minutes making quick drawings in our sketchbooks to generate ideas for designing the surface of our vessels (bowls).

3. Each student got an 8 oz ball of low fire white clay. Using their hands, they patted it out into a large pancake shape, smoothing the edges. 

4. Using the clay tools, we changed the rim of the bowl to create an uneven, organic look to the edge.

5. Next, we used a variety of natural elements to press into the top surface of the bowl, pressing hard and allowing the leaves to stay in the clay.
Dishes drying in preparation for firing
Embellishing with items from nature

6. Borrowing an idea I found on a children's clay website, we picked up the printed slab pancakes and slapped them onto our bent knees!  They liked this part of the lesson. A few slapped their bowl two or three times until their bowls were the desired shape.

7. Next, we wadded up newspaper and wrapped with masking tape, securely taping the crumpled wads onto cardboard bats.
We draped the shaped bowls over the newspaper. 

8. After that, we used a bit of additional clay to make 3 feet and added them securely to the bottom of the bowls.

9. Final step: We turned the whole thing upside down and gently pressed the feet of the bowls on a table top to create flattened bottoms. We then turned the bowls back, feet up, to dry.

After the bowls were dry, they were fired.

Dried pieces in kiln ready for firing

10. For decorating, the students painted a thick layer of food safe glaze on the top surface and then put the bowl under a gently, running faucet (over a bucket so as not to allow glaze water down the sink) to rinse some of the glaze off. After blotting the bowls with paper towels, everyone glazed the under sides of their bowls (leaving the bottoms of the feet unglazed).
Student work
Student work

Student work

Clay 3 : Gargoyles

Lion gargoyle
Wolf Gargoyle
Eagle Gargoyle
Week 3 of our Clay 3 After school workshop. The topic of interest this week was Gargoyles.

I've always been fascinated by the gargoyles I've seen on my many travels and decided it would be a fun subject matter for the third through fifth grade students participating in this clay workshop. Doing a web search, I discovered these images, all of animal gargoyles and used them as inspiration in creating our own versions in red clay.

Materials Needed
Sketchbooks and pencils
Low fire red clay, 6 oz per student
Clay tools
Canvas mats for work surfaces
Cardboard bats for storing work

1. I put out a set of gargoyle images from around the world taken off the web. I stuck with an animal theme and led a discussion about the images.

We looked at things like:
*Materials used (carved stone)
*Location of gargoyles (on exterior of buildings, up high)
*Subject matter (in this case, animals)
*Meanings of animals used (strength, courage, loyalty, etc)
*Function (to direct rain water away from the building, hence the open mouths).

2. Students spent a few minutes drawing ideas in their sketchbooks to generate ideas. They were to consider what qualities an animal had and which animal they'd choose for their own sculpture.

3. After they decided what animal they wanted to do, students watched a brief demo I did on construction, dividing the clay into parts for main body shapes, limbs, and details. I emphasized using techniques previously used in firmly attaching all parts to the main shapes, to ensure stability.

4. Students spent the rest of the hour building their gargoyles, adding texture and detail with tools. When all works were finished, we set them on cardboard and in boxes for drying. 

5. These pieces were later fired and left with their natural finish.