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.

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