Monday, June 9, 2014

In the Art Room: A Pinch Pot Mascot

Well, kids, as you read this, I'm heading out the door and takin' a vacay to charming Charleston with a coupla muthahs. That'd be my dear, albeit totally crazy, mother and my mother-in-law (who will be in need of your prayers as she contends with a double dose of deranged). If one of us doesn't make it back, it'll be my mom who I'll prolly leave tied to a chair in the hotel room with tape over her mouth (true story: in elementary school, my mom talked so much the teacher resorted to taping her mouth closed. She promptly chewed through the tape and commenced chatting. This is what I'll be dealing with). Wish me luck, kids!

In the meantime, I thought I'd share with you these here 2nd grade Pinch Pot Tigers! At my school, the tiger is our mascot so the kids were totally excited to bring the Johnson Tiger to life. Some kids went the traditional Bengal orange and black tiger route...
While others created a white tiger. Did you know that the white of the tiger's fur is a recessive gene? Some mistake them for being albino but that's not so. Many white tigers are bred but, because there are so few of them, there is usually inbreeding. This results in all sorts of birth defects and also has scientists considering renaming the White Tiger the Kentucky Tiger (so sorry, Kentucky friends. That was a low [although hilarious, right?!] blow).
The kids loved creating these tigers. I was so thrilled to see them painstakingly paint those wee tiger faces. That's when you know they are in love with their project, when they put forth so much effort. 
So just how'd they do it? Well, we started out with these supplies:

* Low-fire clay (I'm a Cone 06 gal, myself)

* Toothbrush (preferably your mom's or mother-in-laws, depending on who you're ticked at)

* A skewer

* Aqua

* A clay mat. Canvas works great.

To create these bad boys, we used 2-3 thirty minute classes. On the first day, we made a pinch pot and tiger legs. For the pot, I tell the kids to begin by rolling a sphere and placing it in the palm of your hand. Notice that the sphere isn't perfect. I try to discourage the kids from rolling a perfect sphere because they will do it FOREVER thus drying out their clay and using up precious art time.
Next up: stick your thumb in that sphere of clay until it looks as though your thumb has an afro. Do not puncture your thumb all the way through your clay as that would result in a clay donut. And don't nobody like clay donuts. They's nasty.
Pop that thumb out and use your pinching fingers to evenly pinch the sides of your pot. It should be of cookie-thickness. Once completed, the kids are given another piece of clay. For this, they'll divide the clay in half and roll two coils that are about 4" in length. I have rulers out on the tables for this reason. Once complete, the kids stack their pot onto their coils, wrap it in a damp paper towel and put it in a labeled zip lock bag until next class.
The following class, we chat about making tiger faces. I don't like to tell the kids an exact way of creating a face so we go through many options. When working with clay, I like to stress that you can make anything outta clay with a sphere, a slab or a coil. We chat about the different features a tiger might have and what, out of those three things, we might use to create them.

When demoing, I always stress that you gotta slip and score. I have the kids use the toothbrush and that cup of water for this purpose. After this chat, the kids work on creating the heads. Because of the detail they like to create, most take the entire time making that clay head. Once finished, it gets placed in the zip lock bag along with the pinch pot and coils.
This young artist didn't like my cartoon-y version of a tiger. I had a buncha tiger photos on display as well as one pulled up on my brand new big screen T.V. (ya'll, this thing makes me feel like I'm in a sports bar, it's that huge). I love how she created a three-dimensional muzzle for her tiger and that painting job, gah! I love my 2nd graders. 
On the final day, we toothbrushed and added the heads and legs. Now, I'm not gonna lie, those legs had been in that zip lock bag for days. So they were a little dried out and noncooperative. To solve that, some kids opted to have their tigers laying down (as the clay was too weak to support the pinch pot) while others crumpled up newspaper and used that to prop up the tiger's legs. 
After the legs and head were attached, some kids created a tail. I had to really encourage them to make strong thick tails that did not protrude. So most rolled a coil for the tail and then turned that into a spiral before attaching to the pot. If the kids happened to have extra time when finished, I told 'em that they could create something to go along with their tiger. However, I reminded them that I'd only fire it if they made sure to slip and score. 

This young artist created a baby tiger to accompany the mama. 
And this one decided to have a mouse riding on the back of the tiger.
Another Kentucky Tiger.
Once the tigers were complete, the kids glazed then with Mayco's Stroke and Coat. It's my fave as the colors are just perfect. The kids spent an art class with the World's Smallest Paint Brushes to create these lovelies. When it comes to glazing, I only have two rules: Don't Glaze the Bottom (because the glaze, when melted, will adhere to the kiln shelf) and Don't Layer Three Zillion Different Colors of Glaze as this will result in an unappealing mix of muddy colors once fired. 

And there you have it, friends! A Pinch Pot Mascot that's both functional ("oh, my tiger can hold my earrings!") and adorbs. Until next time, wish me luck with those mothers and have yourself a great week, ya'll!

2 comments:

  1. Anonymous6/10/2014

    Love these and the elephants. Thanks for the helpful how-tos!

    While you're in Chucktown keep an eye out for the new Shepard Fairey murals! You might even want to pop into the Halsey and see his show with Jasper Johns. You could leave the muthahs across the street at Starbucks to re-fuel. :)

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  2. Fantasitc! Really appreciate the step by step instructions! Am always trying to figure out how to do clay better in short period of time.Gracias!

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