Monday, June 3, 2013

In the Art Room: Pinch Pot Pets Take 2

Sometimes giving the kids the choice of every color glaze in the rainbow can be a dangerous thing. But I happen to think this turquoise with white spots pup is just the cutest.
If you are a teacher, then you are currently in one of two places: Summer Vacation Bliss or On the Verge of Summer Vacation Madness. I'm the former but I can totally empathize with all ya'll in the latter. The last week of school followed our school-wide art show which left my art room as cleared out and empty as my brain. But have no fear, all you O.V.S.V.M. folk! The end will come (of the school year, not the end of time. I'm an art teacher not an evangelist) and soon you'll be like me: feet up, taking in the sunshine with a nice tall cold...um...tea (well, perhaps a splash of tea along with some other happiness-inducing ingredients) and frantically brainstorming lesson plans and thematic ideas for next year. Ah, the joys of being a teacher. Which sometimes feels like that unwanted gift that keeps on giving. Like a Chia Pet. Or crabs. 

(Did I really just liken my job to an STD? I believe I did.)

Don't get me wrong: if I didn't love what I do, I wouldn't spend so much time plotting and planning. Which brings me to this lesson. I started the planning stages of this project about this time last year. If you've read my recent art project posts (you haven't?! What's wrong with you, you got a life or something? No you don't, go read here and here.) then you know our purpose behind these animal sculptures: to raise money for a local humane society. Each grade level sculpted a dog or cat sculpture (check out my kindergartener's work and my fourth grader's masterpieces) with these being the ones my awesome second graders created.
The problem with projectile whiskers is sometimes they break. I still love this green-eyed spotted kitty just the same.
Because I'm missing school just a pinch (yeah, I do believe there was a little too much happiness in that last cup as well), let me geek out on you and break this lesson down with some good ole bullet points: 
  • On our first day, the kids were given a piece of clay the size of an orange. They twisted this piece in half and created a pinch pot with each piece. 
  • To connect the pots and create a sphere, each kid was given a small piece of newspaper (pages from the phone book work great...why am I still getting those, btw?). This was crumpled up and placed inside the pinch pots to prevent them from flattening. In the past, we've rolled up small spheres of clay and placed those in the newspaper before sealing it inside. When the newspaper burns, those little clay beads create a rattle inside of your piece.
  • After the newspaper was placed inside the two pots, the sphere was complete. To reinforce the seam where the two pots came together, the kids rolled a coil of clay and placed it over the seam. This was flattened and smoothed. I know what you're thinking, "An enclosed piece of clay is going to explode in the kiln!" Dude, relax, I got this. Holes were pierced into the sphere at a later stage.
  • Because my classes are a half and hour long, it was at this point that the kids wrapped their spheres in a wet paper towel and sealed them inside their labeled ziplock bag.
  • On the following day, the kids rolled out and attached four thick and short coils of clay for legs. To prevent the legs from falling off once attached, we bent the end of each leg at the top. This created a larger flat surface for the leg to attach to the bottom of the sphere. Of course, we tooth brushed the bottom of the sphere and the tops of the legs before attaching.
  • The kids were given some ideas on how to create a face for their pet. Then they came up with a billion much better ideas. Which is how is always goes, isn't it? I cannot keep up with their superior imaginations.
Best. Ears. Ever.
  • Now, I gotta tell you two quandaries I found myself in with this here project: One was finding a place to write the student's names. Ultimately most ended up being emblazoned on the tooshie. And the other quandary was that we did have a couple explosions in the kiln. Because all of the pieces were given a "belly button" (a small hole with a skewer stick in the bottom of the piece) I can only imagine that the explosions were caused by the thickness of the clay. The two kids handled it quite well, knowing that they'd be able to create a new piece. Apparently, it's very cool in secondgradeland to be able to tell your buddies "my dog blew up the kiln". 
  • Once the pieces were returned to the kids, we set to glazing. I love Mayco's Stroke and Coat as do the kids. We chatted about the patterns that might appear on dogs and cats, real or imaginary. 
And there you have it! I've still no idea just what we'll be up to this summer...but I've got a couple crazy ideas rolling around. Until next time, have a great Monday!

15 comments:

  1. Tabitha7/25/2013

    I remember making pinch pots in your class...some odd 14 or 15 years ago! Love your blog!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Tabitha, if I remember correctly, you were in Mrs. Farmer's 2nd grade class...? That might have been my first year teaching :) You were (and still are, I'm certain) a beautiful and bright little brunette :)

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