Saturday, January 31, 2015

Clay Spoon Monsters

I finished my month long residency on Friday. It was a large school with 500 students and I completed 2 projects with each class.

This was one of the Grade 2 projects, spoon monsters.

I know I could use a spoon monster by my stove!

Here is some more student work.

I only have a few photos as I'm still doing my glaze firing.


- clay, I used about 1 box per class (25 students)
- newspaper, I give each student 1/2 a page
- canvas placemats
- penny nails
- skewers
- little water cups
- glazes
- kiln


For clay we work on top of canvas placemats.  Each child gets a penny nail for cutting, a skewer for scoring and adding detail, and a small cup of water.

I start off by giving each child a lump of clay approximately the same size.

I get them to roll it between their hands or around the table to form a nice round shape. They are about the size of a large naval orange.

The grade 2 students push their thumbs into the ball of clay and form a nice pinch pot.  I talk to them about what a good thickness should be. (width of their thumb).

I will go and check each one to make sure it's going to work before we move on to the next step.

Take your 1/2 page of newspaper, crumple into a loose ball and stuff inside the pot.

The newspaper helps the pot keep it's shape.  I remove these before firing.  Current school policy is to remove combustibles.  In the past I have just let these burn off during the bisque fire.

Take pot and turn onto it's side.  Give it a few thumps on the table.  This will flatten the side so it can stand up on it's side.

I tell the kids if it wobbles try again.

It should look something like this.

Flat on the bottom.

I give each child a smaller lump of clay and we start to add the features to our monsters.  We attach clay by using our "scratch, scratch, water, water" chant.

We use our skewer to score/scratch our clay and then dip our finger into the cup of water and add this to our scratches. I then tell the kids that the scratches have to KISS.  An easy way to get them to remember despite all the 'eww gross' comments.

I also tell them that 'short and stubby' is our friend. We don't want features that are to thin or tall on our monsters.

Finally we scratch our names onto the bottom of the monsters.  I drape the clay with plastic to equalize for a day or 2 and then allow it dry out for 1 - 2 weeks.

I then bisque fire, we glaze, and I do the second fire.

I had 3 grades completing clay projects during this residency.

Here are some of the penguins from Grade 1.  My full tutorial is here.

and here are a sampling of the owls from Grade 4.  My owl tutorial can be found here.

Awesome work by all classes!

Well I have to go prep for the start of another residency on Monday.  I have lots more student work and  new tutorials to add in the coming week.



  1. Hello Gail, I am teaching art in Japan. Your art works are all so beautiful, creative, and special, I'm so impressed!!! Thank you for sharing, and kind instructions.

  2. Hey Gail! I love your work - thank you for sharing these ideas with us. As a homeschooling mom, I've always wondered how to find a way to use a kiln with my kids. Do you have any suggestions on how to track one down? I just don't know where to start. Thanks!

    1. Hi Kristen, There may be a few options in your area. If there is one of those pottery painting shops you may be able to rent some kiln time from them. Some schools have kilns and again you can maybe rent some time from them. As well any local pottery artists maybe able to help you out. I would try to locate the ceramic supplier (glazes, clay, etc.) in your area and they should be able to point you in the right direction. Hope that helps.

  3. My gosh, you are so talented! Thanks so much for sharing all these! ♡