Thursday, April 9, 2015

It's Clay Time!

Of course, there is an Olaf...or two...or three!

Last year and the year before were years with "kiln troubles", mostly caused by power outages and broken water lines spewing water all over unfired work and the controls on the kiln. Fortunately, this year has proven to be a much better year for clay, so all my students in grades 1-7 have had at least one clay creating experience this year. 

I can't resist using artist Jim Dine as our inspiration for a Valentine themed clay project in first grade. We make our "Jim Dine Valentines" in a single class period. The students learn to roll clay, cut out shapes, and add decorative touches with simple tools. This year we added a few snowflakes in honor of both the snow that wouldn't quit falling and the popularity of "Frozen" with my younger students!

Getting ready to demo with my "teacher cam"

Every student has a spot for his or her clay pieces

Getting ready for the kiln

Unfortunately, I failed to photograph the finished pieces in our rush to get them home by Valentine's Day. Too many snow days slowed down our progress! The students use tempera and glitter paints, which I seal with a coat of ModPodge, then assemble their necklaces, door hangers, and other assorted treasures to take home for this special day.

The classic this!

The second graders learn to make pinch pot snowmen and use glaze for the first time. Along with the pinch pot technique, they learn to "score, slip, smooth" to keep the pieces together, and also to make sure there is an air vent so their snow creations survive the heat of the kiln! We use underglazes for the color. After the students finish, I dip their work in clear gloss glaze before firing. This takes care of the problems that can arise when students forget to keep the bottom of the clay piece "free and clean" when gloss glaze is used. 

Thinking outside the box...a snow crab!
My third graders completed their clay projects last fall. Our Jack-o'-lanterns have become a tradition for third grade and older students often inform me that theirs are still displayed at home for Halloween. We only missed one year out of the last ten, so that's a lot of pumpkin creations! For these, we use acrylic paints for the ease of use, color options, and budget consideration. 

Black cat, pumpkin, and a colorful owl

The mini-me makes this one so cute!
I love when students add a few props!
Since these projects were completed, the fourth through seventh graders have been working on their clay projects. I had the "brilliant idea" of doing them simultaneously...what was I thinking???? But I'll save that for another post as more of them come out of the kiln!

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