April 16, 2015

Clay Projects for Elementary- Primary Ceramic Wall Hangers

In case you don't know, I am a lover of ceramics. It is my medium of choice. I share this love of clay  with my students and push their clay making ability as far as I can in my classroom. Like all my projects, I have a spiraling clay curriculum with my clay and this is my first grade project. We work with slabs and slip for this project. As with my own ceramics, I am a fan of functional ceramics. Sculptures of penguins/frogs/monsters are cute, but I am in clay for the long haul, I want a piece to stick around for awhile. I also enjoy opening up a kiln and seeing that projects have survived and haven't blown up. I suspect this is an issue with these cute sculpture projects.

If you have been following me for a bit I have been posting weekly updates of my students' clay projects. Let me quickly recap this clay wall hanger project for you. It takes 3-4 days to complete. I moved this project this year and we spent part of our second class talking about Youth Art Month, otherwise this would easily be a three day project.
Day 1: Review clay rules, roll slabs with rolling pins,  cut to size (use 4x10 stencil), sign, turn in to teacher. I store these in a garbage bag that has a tray inside of it. I layer manila paper between each layer to prevent sticking.  Some teachers use slab rollers, some roll the clay for them. I make them work for it. Rolling takes some work, but no one really complains. Standing helps. Students don't sit in chairs when working with clay.
Day 2- Introduce Slip and Score. Slip and Score edge, ball up two paper towels and place in center. Fold up to create pocket. Paper towels help form this pocket. Lots of rubbing, smoothing to make edges nice.
Day 2 or 3- Depending on time and priority of craftsmanship, you may try to get the texture step done now or save it for another day. This year we spent an extra day. We spent day two reviewing Youth Art Month, then worked on our clay.Once pocket is made, introduce found objects for design making. First graders were just learning and making their own fossils so this was really good timing. I could get into a big demo about texture and pattern but I love seeing them explore and make something personal. 

Drying all pockets.
I drill two holes with a hole making tool into each corner while it wet. Drying them upright saves space too. Leave the paper towels in until you put them in the kiln. 

Last Day- Use a really wet sponge to apply dark glaze on the designs. Rub extra glaze so the textures stand out. I soak sponges, dunk in there selected glaze  and give it to the students. They don't need a lot of glaze for this step. Thinner glaze works better than thick.
Once done, go over the entire piece with a lighter color with a paintbrush. I buy glaze by the gallon and store in ziploc containers. It is cheaper to do it this way and easier to share then hose skinny pint jars! And as we know, the more you give students the more they will use. I put just about an inch in each. 
The last step is just adding ribbon to the holes. Seriously, how cute is this red and yellow glaze combo! 
And somehow this little guy managed to write a message on the back of his project. So sweet!!
As you can see these turn out just beautiful! Students learns basic clay building techniques and end up with a quality project that will be treasured for years.
Do you do clay with your students? If so, sculptures or functional items?

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