Showing posts with label teaching clay. Show all posts
Showing posts with label teaching clay. Show all posts

Monday, April 24, 2017

In the Art Room: Exotic Birds UPDATE!

 I'm so excited to share with you just how amazingly awesome these exotic birds by my second graders turned out! If you subscribe to my YouTube channel, then you might already be familiar with this video lesson I created (and may have used it with your students!). I was uncertain how I wanted the kids to finish them off (to glaze or not to glaze). In the end, we went with this super fun florescent paint and metallic watercolor for the base. Here's the how-to video!
For our school-wide art show, our clay sculptures will be based on a pet shop theme with each grade level making animals, reptiles and fish for the occasion. Our theme last year was a 1950's diner where the kids all made food...after doing that fun theme, I wasn't sure if we were going to be able to top it. But these birds have certainly changed my mind about that! 

In the video, I use skewers as the legs but in the end, I was worried that they would not be strong enough to support the bird. So as the kids finished their birds and bases, I had them bring them to me. I used the skewer to write their name and class code on the bottom of each. Then I pushed popsicle sticks into the bottom of the bird and the base just to make sure they would work together. After the kids left, I removed the sticks, wiggling them back and forth. I did this because I know that clay shrinks as it dries. I then allowed the clay projects to dry for a week or more. 
 Last week, the kids got their birds and bases back and were given bright colors of paint and plenty of visuals to work from. I gently suggested that they might want to make them look like parrots or toucans...but I also wanted them to explore the idea of creating their own idea of an exotic bird. Once the paint was dry, I hot glued the sticks to both the birds and the bases (I had used the stick to add the holes into both before firing). Sparkle ModPodge was added to the finished birds because...SPARKLE MODPODGE. Need I say more?
 Today, the kids were given sparkle pipe cleaners, feathers (both of which were found at the Dollar Tree) and beads from my unending supply of beads (seriously...do they multiply?!). I gave them a couple of tips on how to twist the 'cleaner and add the feathers...and then just let them go to town. 
 They had a blast and are just so super proud of their birds!
 I suggested folding the pipe cleaners in half, adding beads if desired and bending the 'cleaners into spirals. Of course, their fave part was digging through the treasures on their tables...
Once complete, they brought their birds to me where I hot glued their feathers and pipe cleaners into place. I found this great resource and asked the kids to do a little bit of research on their birds before our short 30 minutes was up. I borrowed some books from the library to help them with that task. Tomorrow, they'll continue writing, add an illustration and learn even more about exotic birds. 
 Now that we are closing in on the art show and the end of the school year, I don't plan on doing too many more projects with these guys. We do have this project to finish up next week...but after that, we'll be working on decorating the art room for the art show! 
 I love all of the creativity that went into these birds! They were colorfully beautiful before...and now they are just fantastic. 
Teaching clay is one of my all time favorite things because the kids absolutely LOVE it! Ask them what their favorite medium is and it is always clay. I haven't been able to share some of my fave clay projects with you as they are in THE BOOK and, therefore, owned by the publisher. I was so excited last week to get my copy of it! 
Almost all of the projects in the book (with the exceptions of the edible clay {yes, there is an edible clay project!}) can also be created with kiln-fired clay. So it's perfect for those with or without a kiln...really anyone who wants to explore clay with kids! 

And, in case you are a little intimidated by clay...OR just want a reason to play with the stuff yourself, you might want to join in on my FREE clay workshop! I'll be hosting it on my Facebook page every Wednesday night LIVE for about an hour. I'll be working with Celluclay, air dry clay and plaster wrap. You can use whatever supplies you have on hand OR you can purchase a kit of the supplies to explore and create along with me (and many others!):
I cannot wait. Craft nights on Facebook LIVE have been so much fun!
 And, stay tuned...I'm unloading that kiln daily and the clay projects coming out of it have just been so fun to see. I find myself scrambling to get to school just to peak inside. 
Here is an accurate portrayal of my face when doing so, ha! Y'all have a great week!

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Tuesday, April 18, 2017

In the Art Room: Clay Chameleons, Update Part 2

Y'all. When I opened the kiln this morning (which I had no right doing as that big ole lug was still flashing 600 degrees), I let out a squeal. Who snuck into the art room and put a bunch of cute-ified chameleons in my kiln?! I mean, really. Can you even handle...THIS?
 I know I can't. I'm so excited to share these with the kids next week. Their hard work sculpting and glazing paid off. Here's the video that I created to teach my sweet third graders this fun lesson:
The kids have loved this lesson! Having taught art (and clay!) for nearly 20 years, I've learned a thing or two along the way. My biggest tip for those working with kiln-fire clay: LET THE FINISHED PIECES DRY FOR LONGER THAN YOU'D EVER IMAGINE.
I was always led to believe that the reason clay exploded in the kiln (and I've had my share of 'splosions) was because of air bubbles. I call baloney on that theory. The reason there are explosions is: the clay is still WET. I allow my clay projects to dry in the kiln room which is both hot (due to the kiln) and well ventilated (as they should be) for TWO WEEKS. That's right, you heard me. Here's the deal: if there are any water molecules in the clay, as they are heated up in the kiln, they begin to move, faster and faster, until they cause an explosion. However, if you wait...every last one of those water molecules will evaporate and diminish your chance of breakage. One way to test and see if greenware (unfired clay) is ready to be fired? Touch it. If it feels damp, even slightly, it is still holding water and needs to dry.

The problem is...if your students' clay projects are thick (and some of these chameleons were very thick!) there might be water trapped within the clay project that you cannot feel with touch. My suggestion? Fire on the slowest setting possible. This will help air out the clay before ramping up to firing mode. 

In other words: When in doubt, DRY IT OUT. 

Can someone please help me off this firing soap box?! It's hot up here!
Now, when it comes to glazing, that's a whole 'nother story. Glazed pieces can be fired on the fastest setting as they have already been fired once and are not going to explode. In case you are curious, I use Cone 06 clay and glaze. 
 I don't always glaze with my students. After all, two firings is super time consuming. However, I do think that the glazing experience is important for kids to be exposed to at least once. It's truly magical. Imagine: little pieces of glass that are going to transform your dull clay project into a shining, sparkling masterpiece!
My favorite glazes are Mayco's Stroke and Coat. I love their color variety. I did order some of their Jungle Gems to add a bit of spots and sparkle to their projects...and I was a touch disappointed. I don't think I shook the bottles up enough because I don't see too much of the spotted and speckled effect. Perhaps my next crop of chameleons will be more speckled as their glaze is near the bottom of the bottle where all the glass has settled. 
 Oh! And if you follow me here...you might have seen that I received a copy of my book
This lesson is NOT featured in my book...which is why I can share it and the video for free with you here. Many of the project directions from last year's art show were not shared here...because I was under contract with the book publisher. Little known fact: when you are writing a book, they "own" the rights to your ideas! All that to say...all of the lessons I share in the book have not been released here. So 52 NEW art projects for you and your kiddos...that can be used with both no-kiln and kiln-fired clays! 
 ALSO...in case you didn't know, I've been hosting weekly #creatingwithcassie craft nights right here. Currently, we are felting but next month, we are exploring clay! 
If you'd like to join the fun and explore some fun new materials, pick up your clay kit here...no kiln required! 
 Now...this is just the beginning of clay themed posts as I've declared the month of May, the month of CLAY! So brace yourself...lots of clay posts ahead!
Until then!

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