Tuesday, December 13, 2016

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

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