Wednesday, April 11, 2012

In the Artroom: Monet's Waterlilies

Me: You painted both snails the same didn't want to use variety? Student: Well, it's a Mama Snail and a Baby Snail. No one will know that if they are different colors. Me: (mental head slap) You are a genius.
This week back to school has been so exciting! Everyday, I walk into my room, open the kiln and gasp at the awesome creations of my students. This week we've been glazing the clay projects completed before spring break and the students have been totally rockin' it. I thought I'd share with you this kid-approved lesson.
I was told that the Tooth Fairy likes to chill in Monet's Garden on her off nights.
We've been learning all about the artist Claude Monet and just finished completing our Mammoth Monet Mural before break. During that unit of study we also chatted extensively about ponds and waterlilies. The kids were thrilled when told they were going to create a clay waterlily of their own.
I shared the photos of Monet's Garden with the kids that I snapped while at the Moma in March. The best question yet, "Where did his mom get paper that was so big?"
A lovely lily close up.
Pac Man vs. Sponge Bob's Buddy Patrick.
 For this project, you'll need the flowing:
  • An Army of Amazing Moms
  • Tons of clay
  • A class set of clay mats
  • Skewers
  • Waterlily and Lily Pad templates
  • Mayco Wonderglaze
  • Toothbrushes
  • Cups of water
Okay, about that first thing on your list, I'm serious about that one. Let me tell you why: I have 1/2 hour art classes. Many teachers wouldn't even attempt this kind of crazy with such short classes. But with an Army of Amazing Moms, anything is possible. Now, I have The Best Moms in my room, but I'm sure you've got some pretty fabulous ones in your school just dying to help out. All you have to do is ask, it's really that simple.

This lesson is a version of one originally created by one of the most incredible art teachers I know, The Clay Lady. Not familiar with her? Watch her demos on youtube, she rocks.
 To create the waterlilies, the kids need to do the following:
  1. Pound out clay to Oreo thickness and trace a waterlily and lily pad as seen in top clay photo.
  2. Bend two points of the star upward (as shown above), over lap and smoosh clay together.
  3. Continue bending points of star upward, overlapping and smooshing until entire lily is complete. It should look like a closed flower.
  4. Use fingertips to gently bend flower pedals outward.
  5. Toothbrush the bottom of the lily and a place on the lily pad and attach.
This artist used the back of her brush to create "perfect dots" and stripes on her bumble bee.
After that, I explained to the kids that they could add one or two creations to their lily of their liking. I did a little snail and insect demo but they had much bigger ideas. "How do you make a hummingbird? The Toothfairy? A Tarantula?"
A frog chillin' at his pad.
I told them this...anything can be created out of clay with three things: a sphere, a slab and a coil. So, stop and think about what you want to create and decide which of those three things would be the best for the job. And, just look at this variety! They got it.
I was told that this is a one-eyed version of Sponge Bob's buddy Gary. Meow.
Now let's chat about glazing. This Stoke and Coat glaze by Mayco is where it's at. The colors are vibrant and the consistency is very fluid. I dole out the glaze in styrofoam egg cartons along with cups of water for brush cleaning.
A first grader created this hummingbird. I know, right?
 Before glazing, we have a nice loooong chat about my two rules:
  1. Do not glaze the bottom (it'll stick to the kiln).
  2. Do not layer different glaze colors.
Another hummingbird.
Because of the countless choices of colors, some kids go a little bonkers and just want to glaze their project to death. I give them free reign to add patterns like dots and stripes but I stick hard and fast to that no-overlapping-twenty-colors-on-your-piece rule.
And the end result? Nothing short of adorable, says me. And my new friend, Happy Buggy-Eyed Snail.

Thanks for dropping by!


  1. Awww soo cute! Your students sound great. I miss student teaching and working with kids. At least this fall I'll be working with young kids. They can be so inspiring.


  2. Anonymous4/11/2012

    Love how these turned out. I can't believe you only have half hour classes. I thought my 45 minutes of class time was short. I may try this next year. Thanks for the inspiration!!!

  3. Hi Cassie, I just taught this lesson and posted some pictures:
    Thank you for your awesome blog, for sharing your wonderful ideas and for your fun and creative style and spirit!
    All the best, Drew B.

    1. Hey Drew! Those turned out fab, I love the swan, so sweet! Thank you for the shout out in your post, I appreciate it!


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