Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Ceramic Architecture, Part 1...What WAS I THINKING?!?

The fence was made from small sticks of wood after the piece was fired.
 Have you ever started a project...gotten part way through...then began wondering, "What WAS I THINKING?" That pretty much sums up my Ceramic Architecture projects for this year! I had done these two projects with grades 4 and 7 before, but I guess enough time had passed (about four years, I think) to make me forget just how much time, mess, and effort were involved!
Back in August, when school was just beginning and I felt fresh and ready to tackle just about anything, I wrote a grant proposal titled "Art and Architecture in America". My plan was to have the fourth grade students create relief sculpture buildings showing just the front and to have the seventh grade students use slab construction techniques to create three-dimensional buildings. The proposal included requests to fund clay, glaze, and several reference books for my classroom. I typed it up and submitted it to the Miami Valley Catholic Schools Office...and waited. In November, I received a check, ordered supplies...and waited a bit more. Finally in January, we were ready to start! 
After a read aloud session with the book Iggy Peck Architect by Andrea Beaty, the fourth graders spent a class period looking through the new reference materials, then drew the sketch for their building design in an 8-inch square of paper. Early finishers got out the crayons or markers to plan out their color scheme. During the next two art classes, the students rolled out their clay, traced the outline of their building, cut it out, and learned the importance of "score, slip, smooth" when attaching pieces of clay. The project requirements were simple: include a door, windows, a roof, and any other identifying details for your building. 

A muffin shop and bakery
A house for a bunny cute!
Of course, as with any art class that meets only once per week, there is bound to be a glitch...or two...or three! In this case, it was a string of snow days in late January and early February. Combine that with more than a few absences due to winter illness, and the actual construction process ended up taking three class periods instead of two for some students. 

Finally, the first pieces were up from the kiln and the glazing began! This was the first experience many of my fourth graders had with glaze, but the students did well and there were very few color surprises when the glaze firing was completed.
This drawing was done after the clay project was finished.
Haunted fun house!

During our post-project discussions, many students said that they loved the project, but that they discovered that transforming an idea from paper to a 3-dimensional form was harder than they had expected. So for a final drawing challenge, the students used geometric shape forms to create a new idea for a building design. Many of these turned out really well, but unfortunately, I forgot to take photographs before the work went home and only have this one of the haunted fun house!

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