Sunday, January 29, 2017

Clay 1 : Secret Garden (Sunflowers)

Clay Sunflower
Just started a new Clay 1 workshop called Secret Garden, held after school and offered to students in Kindergarten through second grade. This class is 5 weeks long, with the first four classes for building in clay and the fifth one for glazing all the fired bisque ware. And as always, a big Art Exhibition and Reception held the sixth and final week.

Our theme for this session is Secret Garden. This week, we looked at examples of sunflower sculptures made by various artists.
Sunflower sculpture in sand, metal, and clay
 Many visuals of sunflower sculptures were displayed and students had opportunities to discuss things like what medium was used (sand, metal, mixed media, metal, etc.), the sizes of the works, distinguishing characteristics of sunflowers, use of shape, detail, color, etc.

Materials Needed
Small sketchbooks
White low fire clay, about 8 oz per kid
Canvas mats for working surface
4x4" cardboard bats to set work on for drying
Scrap paper for names to accompany clay piece6.
Clay tools
Bit of water for attaching parts


1. After examining visuals of sunflower sculptures and actual blossoms, students spent a few minutes making quick drawings in their sketchbooks to generate ideas for the own clay sunflower.
2. Students watched a brief demo on one way to begin making their flowers. We pinched off about a third of the ball of clay and set it aside. The rest of the clay was flattened to about the thickness of a pinky finger. Going any thinner might result in lack of stability and lead to breakage later. 

3. Using a clay tool, we put little cuts around the outside of the flattened clay. Lifting the bits, we shaped the boxy edges into rounded or pointed petals. The petals could then be lifted, alternating with petals remaining flat.

4. We pinched off small bits from the extra ball of clay and shaped individual petals, adding to the main piece in a circular fashion. Overlapping added interest.

5. Things to consider when using this additive method of  making a clay flower. 

* Turn piece in all directions to ensure it looks great from all angles
*Check for cracks and weak spots. Smooth with fingers or tools
*Add details, such as seeds in the center or lines on petals, with clay tools.
*If desired, add facial features and give the flower an expressive face.

6. Set aside all flowers on cardboard pieces, with name papers on them. Add names to bottoms later after they have dried a bit. 

7. Final bit...gather students around finished pieces and discuss features that make each flower unique...addition of stems or leaves, facial features, types of petals made, details, 3d effects, strength of piece, etc. Also, how do students feel as they look at the completed pieces?

Pieces were set aside to dry for later firing.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Clay 1 Pinch Pot Critters Art Reception

At the conclusion of each of our workshops, we hold an Art Exhibition and Reception for the students, their families, and friends.

This event is self curated by the class participants. They carefully arrange their completed work along with name plates, sketchbooks, and certificates of completion. Students look forward to this event as it provides them an opportunity to share their work in a "gallery" type setting. Families can focus on each child's work and discover what each young artist learned in the class.

Clay 1 Pinch Pot Critters Glazing

Intro to Clay : Art of the Pinch Pot : Glazing

This was the final production week of our pinch pot workshop for students in grades K-2. Having completed creating mouse families, fish, and nesting birds, we spent our last session focusing on color and design.

Materials Needed
Fired clay projects (mice, fish, and birds in nests)
Low fire non-toxic glazes in a variety of colors
Brushes, various sizes
Shallow cardboard boxes, one for each student

1. Each week in this course, we looked at various artists' interpretations of mice, fish, and birds. Creatures were made in a variety of media and we explored the ways color was used to add interest to the work, whether to make the animal in a more realistic looking way or something more based on fantasy and imagination.

2. I gave a brief demo on using glazes and to avoid wasting any, we set up glazing stations around the room. Each of the five tables had 2 colors of glaze, 4-6 brushes of different sizes for each color, and a little clay biscuit that showed how the fired version of that particular glaze looked. This helped students get a better idea of how their color choices might look after their projects went through one last firing.

3. Each student had a shallow cardboard box holding all three of their projects, which they carried from station to station, adding their favorite colors. Emphasis was on layering glazes to create richer color and also using tiny brushes to add patterns such as dots or stripes onto base layers of glaze.

Work will be fired again and next week, the students will curate their own work for a group show. Tune in next week to see the final results.

Clay 1 Pinch Pot Critters Nesting Birds

Nesting Bird
This was week 3 of a 4 week clay workshop for students in Kindergarten, first and second grades. We used the pinch pot techniques we've used the previous two weeks as a starting point and focused on making birds in nests.

And as every week, local artist Tina Preece worked with us as we made our birds.

Intro to Clay : The Art of the Pinch Pot : Birds in Nests
Materials Needed
Clay (we used low fire white)
Clay tools
Fabric mats

1. We looked at various artists' interpretations of birds made from a variety of media and discussed things like the type of bird, materials used, decorative techniques and use of color.

Bird sculptures by various artists

 2.  Students spent a few minutes drawing birds in their sketchbooks to consider ideas for their sculptures.
Sketching Birds
3. I did a brief demo on ways to create the bird and nest shapes. The clay was divided before class (a great time saver) into 4 oz (about 115 grams) balls. For the nest, they used one ball and made a pinch pot shape, pulling and shaping it into either a round nest or an elongated version. Modeling tools were handy in making twig and branch impressions on the outside of the nests.

4. A second ball was used for the bird. Students divided that ball into smaller shapes, reserving some for making eggs and worms. Birds were formed either by squeezing one piece into a complete bird, or by making separate head, wing, and tail shapes and adding to the main body shape, remembering to score and attach firmly, using a bit of water. Again, modeling tools were used to scratch in feather shapes and surface texture and details.

5. Lastly, eggs and worms were added to the insides of the nests.  Clay was set aside to dry and will later be fired, glazed, and fired a second time.



Clay 1 Pinch Pot Critters Fish

This was the second class of a 4 week after school clay workshop for K-2nd grades. We continued with the Pinch Pot technique and made fish this week.

Materials Needed
White low fire clay
Modeling tools
Water in small containers 
Canvas mats to work on
4" square mat boards to place finished work on

1. I set out about a dozen images of fish sculptures made by various artists. We discussed the use of different media (metal, wood, clay, paper, mixed media, etc), the types of fish made, sizes, expressions, and use of color and detail to add interest.
2. Students then spent a few minutes making drawings in their sketchbooks to generate ideas for fish they wanted to make in clay.

3. We briefly reviewed the Pinch Pot technique used last week to make mice families. Students got a ball of clay which they split in half. They rolled one piece into a ball and pinching it, made a bowl shape. 


4. The bowl shape became the body of the fish. These could be elongated with gentle tugging and shaping or left in a circular shape. The other ball was then divided into smaller bits to make fins, tails, eyes, and lips for the fish.  Quick reminder to moisten the two pieces of clay being joined and to use modeling tools to smooth where the pieces were connected, to ensure a strong bond.

5. Next, modeling tools were used to add textural details to the body, fins, and tail. I reminded them to turn the sculpture and view it from all sides to ensure they were satisfied with its appearance from each angle.

6. Finally, all clay pieces were put on  the 4" square mat boards with scraps of paper with each child's name. Names are later scratched on the bottom after allowing the pieces to dry a bit. All fish were set aside to dry and will later be fired and glazed.