Monday, February 25, 2013

Animal Pinch Pots

I start a new residency tomorrow but I thought I would show you one of my last clay projects, animal pinch pots with Grade 3.

Sorry for some of the photo quality but the school lighting is always a challenge.

Each child chose their favourite animal. Some had their pots up on legs, some had the pot on it's side having a large mouth.  It was great to see all the different versions.


- clay, air dry if you do not have access to a kiln
- nail (for cutting), wooden skewer(for scratching and details), small cup of water
- cloth placemat or paper towel
- coloured glaze if using a kiln, acrylic paint if using air dry
- reference photos of animals if needed


Take a lump of clay about the size of an orange.  You will be working on your cloth placemat or paper towel.

Using your thumbs push into the centre of the lump.  Start to form a pot.

Push down on the bottom to help spread the pot out.  Continue to form a nice shape.  You don't want it to be thicker than an inch on the sides or bottom.

You also don't want it to be too thin.

Dip your finger into the water and rub along the rim on your pot.  Make a nice edge.

Smooth the sides as well.

For this pot I'm adding a head to the front.

I take some more clay and form a nice head shape.  I keep it flat like a cookie so that my pot does not get too thick and then won't dry out.

To 'glue' clay to clay I make little scratches on the 2 surfaces.

Dip your finger in water and add some to the scratches.

Attach head.  Using the wooden skewer and add detail to the face.

Add some newspaper to the pot to help it keep it's shape when drying.

Add arms and legs.  Remember to 'scratch, scratch, water, water'.

In my pot I made my arms and legs flat and attached up against the pot.  If you are adding legs to hold up the pot make sure they are short and stubby.  No giraffes here.

To make a long tail you can roll a snake.

I then added it flat to the pot.

A short stubby tail could stick out but no long tails as they would just break off, better to attach to the side of the pot.

When you have finished sculpting, set pot aside to dry.  Drape with garbage bags or plastic tablecloths for 2 days to equalize.  Uncover and then let clay fully dry out, about 11-12 days.

Here is some of the clay at my last residency drying out.  When the clay has dried do a bisque fire.

When the clay has been fired and cooled you can glaze.  Finish with a glaze fire.

With air dry you'll skip the firing and paint with acrylic paint when the clay is dry.

That's it.

I have lots of new projects coming up that I'm doing at my next school so I hope to post them all shortly.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Taj Mahal Canvas

Last year I came up with this canvas project for Grade 3 to tie in with their social studies curriculum.

I describe it to the students like a postcard scene.

To give Grade 3 a choice this year I introduced this Taj Mahal canvas for India which is another country covered in social studies.


- primed canvas, I buy the 10 multipack at Micheals which seems to go on sale at least once a month
- reference photo
- art boards, wax paper
- blue and white acrylic paint
- cereal/cracker box cardboard, chipboard
- drywall medium
- white paper
- tempera disk paint
- elephant photo
- snippet of text, "Taj Mahal", "India"
- tacky glue
- fine sharpies
- grey and yellow pencil crayon
- Mod podge


Take your cardboard, measure to fit the width of your canvas.

Sketch on the Taj Mahal in pencil, using a photo for reference.

Cut out cardboard.

Take some drywall medium, I buy mine from the hardware store in a big gallon size for around $20.00.  Scoop out a little onto a recycled foam plate.  Using your finger add some to the dome and towers.  You are building up texture to make the building appear more 3D.

Set aside to dry.

Paint your primed canvas a nice sky blue with acrylic paint.

Be sure to do the sides as well as we won't be framing this canvas. Set aside to dry.

At school we work on top of art boards and wax paper.

Every student wears an art shirt to protect their clothes from the acrylic paint.

After the drywall has dried, about 6 hrs., paint the rest of the cardboard with white acrylic paint or gesso.  You want to cover up the cardboard brown.

Let dry.

Take some white paper or card stock, cut to the width of the canvas.

Sketch in the promenade of the Taj Majal.

Cut to fit at bottom of both your canvas and cardboard Taj Mahal.

Paint with disk tempera.

Print or hand write a title for your canvas.  At school I had pre printed titles in a variety of fonts for the kids to choose from.

Trim and then paint with the disk tempera.

When the paint has dried on your cardboard Taj Mahal you can add details with a fine sharpie, shading with a grey pencil crayon and highlights with a yellow pencil crayon.

Apply tacky glue to the back of cardboard and put in place on the canvas.

Glue on the painted paper and the title.

Now I know there are probably not too many elephants strolling around the grounds of the Taj Mahal but we put one in anyway to give it the same appeal as the Peru canvas.

Cut around your photo and then glue into place.

You can now add a coat of Mod Podge but apply generously and don't do any extra brush strokes.  The disk tempura will start to smear if you do.

That's it.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Clay Butterflies

Here is another clay project that I recently completed with Kindergarten, (I just finished a residency where I did clay with the entire school so there a few clay posts coming up).

I know it's a bit early for butterflies but it seems to be a standard Spring theme for Kinders and Grade 1.

Here are some classroom results.

They don't have their antennae yet.


- clay, if you don't have access to a kiln you can use air dry
- fabric placemat
- nail
- butterfly template if needed
- small cup of water
- texture tools, I use rubber stamps, buttons glued to corks, plastic forks, shells, etc.
- wooden skewer
- chinet bowl
- glaze in bright colors if you have a kiln, acrylic paint if using air dry clay
- pipe cleaner
- 2 small pony beads


If you want to use a template, trace out a nice butterfly shape onto manila tag.

Cut out.

I used templates with the Kinders.  My template was about 16cm across or about 7 inches.

Cut a piece of clay off your block.  Roll out your slab to about 1/2 an inch thick or so.  You want to work on top of your fabric placemat.

Lay your template on top.  It will stick into place on the wet clay long enough for the kids to trace around.

Using the nail cut the butterfly out of the slab.

When I first made this butterfly I scratched in the body of the butterfly with the wooden skewer.

I added 2 small eyes. Attach by making small scratches and then adding a little water with your finger.

When I did these with kindergarten I had them roll a snake and then add it to the butterfly shape for the body.  This turned out really well.

Some chose to just poke 2 eyes with the skewer.

Add some texture and designs to the wings.

Make 1 hole at the top of the head.  I know this photo shows 2 but you only need 1.  Make sure it goes all the way thru.

When you are finished with your design place the butterfly into the chinet bowl for drying.

Make sure to put the child's name on the back.

Place in a warm spot to dry.  Drape with plastic for 2 days to equalize, uncover and then leave for 10 days.

When the clay is ready do your bisque fire.

Glaze with bright colours.

If using air dry clay, when your clay is dry paint with acrylic craft paint in bright colours.  You can then add a coat of Mod podge or duraclear sealer to get that shiny finish.

Fire again in the kiln.

Thread a pipe cleaner thru the hole. Twist together.

Add 2 pony beads on the ends.

That's it.

I'll see you next time.