Thursday, February 2, 2017

Clay 1 Secret Garden (Butterflies)

Another class from our Secret Garden Clay 1 class for students in grades K-2 after school workshop. Here, we looked at butterflies and symmetry in creating yard art or, as I called them, Butterfly Kebabs

Outdoor Butterfly Art by different artists
We looked at many examples of outdoor butterfly sculpture by different artists. Some of the topics we discussed were:

a. What types of materials were used to create this piece?
b. What can you tell about the size of the work?
c.  Name differences and similarities between 2 works.
d. Observe symmetry in the butterflies and point out examples.
e. Discuss and name the shapes within the butterflies.
f.  Discuss how the artists chose to display the wings
g.  Ask students to id their favorite one and describe why that one appeals most to them.

Materials Needed

White low fire clay (8 oz or 225 g) for each student
Paper squares, 4"  (2 for each student)
Clay tools
Canvas mats
Mat board in 4" squares for storing work while drying
Boxes for storing work
Stamps (We made our own using clay from previous lesson)
Instructions on making your own stamps will be posted soon.
We prefer this to purchasing them, as we have a bigger variety and they are very cost effective


1. After looking at butterfly sculpture examples, we also took a peek at butterfly photos to get a better idea of the types of shapes seen on the wings and understand the concept of symmetry. Students were to choose a butterfly they liked, then point out a shape on one side and then to the corresponding one on the other wing.
 2. Students took a few minutes to make some butterflies in their sketchbooks to generate ideas for wing shapes and symmetrical designs on wings.

3. We took the 4" squares of paper and folded one in half. Setting it on the table like a book, they drew a capital "B" on it, without the center of the B touching the paper's fold. They cut this shape out and used it as a way to start with their clay.

4. Students watched a brief demo and then proceeded to press out their balls of clay. (Can be done with rollers or with heels of their hands.) Press out just large enough to lay the other 4" square paper on top. There should be barely any clay sticking out around the edges. We traced the square and removed the extra clay.

5. For the next step, students put their own patterns on the clay and traced around the shape to make their butterfly. All excess was rolled into a ball and set aside to use later.

6. Students then changed the shape of their butterflies' wings to whatever shape they liked (some were pointed, others rounded, etc). That way, each one looked unique in shape.

7. The extra clay was rolled out like a log, the diameter of a finger. We cut off a piece that was then added to the back. This would later be hollowed out (by the instructors) so the butterfly could later be displayed on a stick. One student decided to put her log shape on the FRONT of her butterfly instead of the back. Great thinking!! It looked wonderful and was a much better way of adding a support structure than on the back. Kids sure know how to think outside the box and come up fantastic variations of the original idea.

Special thank you goes out to Lynzey for her fabulous idea!!

We will do it this way in future classes.

7. Next, students used the home made clay stamps and clay tools to press designs on their sculptures in symmetrical patterns.

8. Pieces were then set aside to dry and will be fired and glazed in the following weeks. Stay tuned to see the final results.

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