Monday, May 1, 2017

Art Teacherin' 101: Episode 33

If you are anything like me (and bless, as we say in the South, if you are), then you prolly got that art ed degree of yours without being a total pro in all forms of media. I didn't take a single printmaking or ceramics class in college and I got a C in textiles (which is a fave but at the time, I was huffing too many paint fumes, er, REALLY into my painting class, to be bothered with warping that freakin' floor loom). What I did get is a two year degree in oil painting because...you know, that's something we teach to the 10 and under set. Ahem. All that to say, we are expected to be at least somewhat knowledgable about the media we share with our students. But, let's be honest, a lot of times, we are learning right along with the kids. 

Now, I've been at this art teacherin' game for sometime now (18 years but who's countin'?) and I have learned a thing or two along the way. One thing is for certain: kids LOVE clay. However, it can be frustrating to teach if you lack experience. Since I've been around the art teacherin' block a time or two (wink-wink, nudgenudge), I thought I'd share some of my fave art teacherin' clay hacks with you. Here you go:
 Let's talk about some of the things I've shared and just where you can find them. 

* Clay mats. I mentioned The Clay Lady and her clay mats. I seriously have had mine FOR YEARS. They are worth the cost of $2 each. 

* Toothbrushes and doggie bowls. Seriously, what would we art teachers do without places like The Dollar Tree?! Toothbrushes are perfect for teaching scoring and doggie bowls are awesome for holding slip while preventing spills. 

* Texture! A visit to your thrift store will provide you with a good stockpile of texture for your clay adventures. Placemats, cable knit sweaters, burlap, stamps, you name it. If it has a texture, your clay will capture it.

* Skewer sticks. Perfect for cutting, drawing and carving into clay.
Something I failed to mention: what to do with those projects that kids work on for more than one class? To store these effectively, I have a stockpile of old and large zip lock baggies. The kids write their names on the bags in Sharpie, wrap their project in a damp paper towel and place gently inside the back. I tell the kids not to zip their bags shut as that usually traps air inside. Instead, I tell them to push the air out and tuck the opening of the bag under their project. This will keep their clay workable for about a week. 

If you would like to continue this clay chat, you are in luck. All throughout the month of May, I'll be hosting clay chats (and craft nights, so come armed with clay!) right here, every Wednesday at 8pm CST. You can work with any ole clay you like...however, I'll be using the clays made available in this kit which you can purchase here. For more info on what we'll be up to, check here

And now, I thought I'd share with you some of my fave clay projects over the years (many with video links!) for you to take back to your own Art Teacherin' Town. LOOOOOVE to hear your fave clay projects and words of wisdom. Please feel free to leave in el commentos below. 
This clay project was one that I did with my second graders FOR YEARS. They love it, it's a great way to introduce texture, slab, coil and glaze. It's also a quickie and with my short art classes, it worked very well. 
This was a fun project my third graders did one year. If you've taught clay before, then you've probably done the coils-in-a-styrofoam-bowl project (I know I have!) a different spin on that is having the kids use slabs of clay to create flowers. We had a spring theme one art show and these fit in beautifully. 
I almost always do a clay project that emphasizes texture with my kindergarteners. I'll share all of those projects...but this one is always a fave: texture butterflies
This is another kindergarten clay project with an emphasis on texture. This project is also shared in my clay book...but with homemade clay! 
These clay fish by my first graders always crack me up! They had so much fun creating the silly expressions on these a couple years ago. If every glaze is not an option, here is a fun alternative: florescent oil pastels and watered down black paint! 
Inspired by the painted elephants in India, my fourth graders created these fun guys one year. 
Funky frogs were created by my fourth graders one year. They had so much personality! This was a project we worked on over the course of a couple of art classes...which really allowed the kids to get creative. 
One year, to go along with our Asian theme, my fourth graders created these fun pandas. Each had their own wild and wacky personaltiy. 
To go along with that theme of Asia, my third grade kiddos created these Chinese dragons which they had a great time doing.
So I might have a thing for animals and clay...what do you think? My kindergarten and first graders created these pinch pot pets a couple of years back when our art show theme was to raise money for a local animal shelter. And, what do you know, animals are our theme again this year! 
That year, my second graders created this version of pinch pot pets: two pinch pots put together to create the body of their animal. 
And my fourth graders created these! Definitely a favorite by both me and the kiddos. 
Yet another spin on pinch pots and animals: using the pinch pot as a container. Our school mascot is the tiger and this particular year, second graders created tiger pinch pot containers
 Now last year, I decided to go for a food theme and create the art room into a 1950's style diner. These projects were not shared in detail like my others because...I was in the middle of writing my clay book and these projects are all featured in that book! The book is written to be used with no kiln fire clay...but, as you can see, you can use kiln fire clay as well. You can scoop up your book here
 My first graders served up these coffee and donut delights. 
 Second grade backed up cupcakes. Y'all better believe the retro lover in my totally enjoyed decorating for this art show!
 Third graders made hamburgers and fries...complete with all the fixin's. 
While others made pancake containers with hand painted paper plates. 
A kid and crowd favorite were the pie containers. The kids had so much fun googling pies and sculpting their favorite. 
While other classes did pizza containers. I reached out to a local pizza place for the boxes to display the pizza in. 
This year, we are back at it with an animal theme! We are transforming the art room into a pet shop. Third grade is in charge of the reptiles
Fourth grade had a blast creating these bobble head pets
But a crowd favorite so far are these fun and funky birds by second grade. They crack me up! 

Many more clay projects are coming up so stay tuned. However, if you just can't wait, you can see a handful of clay projects that have not been shared here but are on my YouTube channel. I always upload there first...so if you'd like to stay up to date, you might consider hitting subscribe. 
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3 comments:

  1. I have to use air dry clay...no kiln...use large wide popsicle sticks for scraping clay..or small ice cream sticks from ice cream in cafeteria (free). I use old pencils for the point end for drawing lines and names. The round end (with no erasers) makes perfect circles for eyes.
    I have a large,heavy old insulated cup filled with dawn dishwasher liquid and warm water...for kids to drop the dirty brushes in. On the outside of cup is a drawing of brushes taking a bath...so students always remember their brushes need a bath after playing in paint..��
    Each grade does a different project. 1st:pinch pots with buttons, 2nd:heart pinch pots 3rd: bird nests with blue bird and eggs, 4th:turtles 5th:bowls using Styrofoam bowls lined with coffee filters (so clay doesn't stck to bowl) 6th:two part cupcakes
    7 and 8th:freeform coil vases with multi techniques to add to vases.
    As for painting clay: dry pots for 2 weeks, then use acrylic paints ...primary, and white. Lessons in mixing colors and tints of colors. Spray seal with triple thick spray clear glaze.
    Now for the fun part...kids look forward each year to adding to the collections. Kids use them for mothers day presents (or parent gifts)
    For years, parents have talked how they still have all 7 of the projects as keepsakes.
    I love the complex designs you create. I am not that brave

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  2. Hi, what's the name of the spray you use to seal and finish your clay projects? I currently use a thick coat of clear, glossy acrylic paint but I'm not completely satisfied with it. Thanks!!

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  3. Again, thank you Cassie...I woke up early this morning with clay on my mind and started working on ideas! You are marvelous with these kids! M.C.

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Thank you so much for your comments. I appreciate each and every one :)