Wednesday, May 15, 2013

In the Art Room: Cats and Dogs

This sculpture just makes me wanna say, "Aw, who's a good boy?! Are you a good boy? Oh, yes you are!" in my most annoying talking-to-doggies voice.
Hi there. Remember me? I'm that blogger that used to post a weekly DIY. That was before the school-wide art show ate my life. Thankfully, almost everything is hung up and on display and ready for the big day tomorrow. And, since I'm blabbering about the art show (of which I will most definitely snap endless photos and share them here), I'd like to give a super huge cyber hug to all the amazing moms that help out in the art room. Seriously. They've hung 5 pieces of art for each of my 400 students. I don't like math, but I'm no dummy. I know that's a whole lotta artwork.
This is like one of those super cute kitties that the moment you turn your back on them they hiss at you, claw your legs and hack up a hairball in your purse. When you turn back around...all you see is this creepily sweet face. Shivers.
Since my life has been swallowed by art-showy-ness, I thought I'd give you a sneak peak at my fourth graders clay projects. You might remember from this post that my students have created dog and cat sculptures this year. This was apart of our art service project as donations will be collected on the night of the art show for these sculptures and the proceeds will be going to Happy Tales Humane.
Your typical dog and cat: Dog does goofy stuff. Cat looks on in disgust.
In years past, my students have participated in Empty Bowls, a wonderful using-art-to-give-back opportunity. I'm trying to instill in these little art students of mine just how powerful and helpful their work can be.
Someone please play fetch with this sweet little pup.
Now each one of my grade levels did a different version of an animal sculpture and I've gotta admit, I liked these the best. Each of my fourth grade students had such great ideas that it really was exciting to watch and teach. I just taught them the basics and they went from there. If you are interested, here's what I showed 'em:
  • To begin, chose a texture for your base. I've got a wide assortment of doilies, burlap and textured surfaces for them to use. Fabric works best for this as it won't stick to the clay. 
  • Position your grapefruit-sized piece of clay on your texture. Using the bottom of your fist, pound the clay into the texture until it has a thickness of a cookie.
  • Peal your clay from your texture and prepare to be amazed. Move your texture off of your surface and cut out a shape for your base. To save time, I give my students several base shapes to chose from: circles, rounded squares and a floral kind of shape.
  • With the excess clay, roll out four legs. I tell the kids these should be as long as their finger but twice as thick. Because my classes are a half an hour long, this is usually where we stop for the day. The clay is wrapped in a damp paper towel and placed inside a ziplock back with the child's name on the front.
  • The following art class, the students create a body with a thick piece of clay. The legs are attached by using a little water and some scrubbing with a toothbrush.
  • To make the face, I tell the kids to sink both of their thumbs into an oval shaped piece of clay. This becomes the eye sockets.
  • The mouth is created with a skewer stick wiggled into the clay horizontally.
  • The nose is pulled upward away from the clay.

  • Eyes are rolled from two spheres and pupils are given with the back of the skewer stick. Here's my rough and dirty example. I've found that by making my example far from perfect, it removes they "I could never do that!" idea. 
  • Now, like I said, that's the basics. What I really wanted to emphasize to the kids is that they are unique artists so their work should reflect that. I wanted them to really explore all sorts of different ideas. So that they could make their ideas come to life, I told them that anything can be created out of clay by using three things: spheres, slabs and coils. I asked them to give me some ideas on what they'd like to make so see if  my theory was true. They told me: frisbee? Sure, a slab. A dog bone? A coil. A sombrero (yes, there's a dog with a sombrero and a mustache)? Let's see, a slab and a sphere. Coil for the 'stache.
I love the windblown ears.

This beagle was created to look just like the artists own. I love the cat on the right. Notice the palette and paint brush in her tiny paws.

The texture on this dog is awesome but my favorite part are the crossed paws.
This student meticulously glazed the rug on which her cat sits...and it's stunning. I love all of the depth and texture in her piece.
Isn't this how every cat sees himself? Royalty. Or a royal pain. You decide.
When it came time for glazing, these kids were so invested in their masterpiece that they spent an entire hour glazing. I love the effect of Mayco's Stroke and Coat. But mostly I just love these creations. I cannot wait to see their parents reaction tomorrow night at the art show. Until I recover from that, enjoy the rest of your week!


  1. These are fantastic!

  2. Love these. Great idea to use the slab as a base. When we've made animals, they've had such a hard time getting them to stand.

    1. Thanks, Angie! Yes, the bases work great because then the kids can also add stuff like a water dish or a bone. The only slight problem is that the base warps as it dries. We could prevent that with some gouging out of clay at the bottom of the base...but that requires more work on my part and I'm lazy ;)

    2. how much clay do you give each student?


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