Saturday, June 7, 2014

DIY: A Clay Faux-saic for the Kiln-less

 You know, there are many perks to being an art teacher. Let us count the ways, shall we? 

1. You never have to clean your room. When my art room is looking totes disastrous (which would be any day that ends in "y", ya'll, let's be honest) and a classroom teacher happens to pop in my room, I'll catch her doin' a horrified glance at my dingy tables and crusty countertops (as she slow-gulps and thinks "oh gawd, how can I get outta here before whatever is on her hands gets on my sweater set?!"), I always do the same ole "My room is such a mess today [notice I said "today" as if it's not a daily thing], I should really clean!" song and dance.  It's then that the scarred-for-life classroom teacher says the most magical words in all of art teacher land : It's an Art Room! It's supposed to look this way [spoken whilst looking for the nearest exit].

2. You got a free pass to Freak-a-Zoid. Not only do you never have to clean your room when you're an art teacher but you totes have a free pass to let that freak flag fly. Shoot, if you're doin' right, you're way beyond freak flag and have entered full-tilt bat-sh$$ crazy. Crayon shoes? Check. Sushi headband? Checkity-check. Light up dress? You mean there are other types of dresses?! Triple-check. Your freak flag just spontaneously combusted. 

3. Your professional development hours don't include Common Snore, er, Core. Naw, man! You're the art teacher! Which means you get to spend the day hangin' with other like-minded, messy-art-room, freak-flag-flying chums who get you AND, added bonus, you make stuff. Which is exactly what I spent my Saturday doin', ya'll. Makin' this here Clay Faux-saic for the Kiln-less.
It was so super easy I bet even a class room teacher could do it (you know I'm just kidding, class room teachers! This is way over your sweater-set-wearin' heads,). For this easy breezy project, you'll need to russell up the following:

* A picture frame with plexiglass or glass

* Air dry clay (we used Polyform Model Air available at your local big box craft joint)

* Glue (I like Aleene's Tacky Glue because I imagine a lady named Aleene to have a big fat beehive hairdo and tacky handmade jewelry crafted from beer bottle caps. An art teacher, of course.)

* Acrylic paint. The cheaper the better.
Now, I gotta tell you, I totally deviated from the instructor's directions. Not because she wasn't an excellent teacher and artist (her stuff is amazing, ya'll, check it here) but because I have this terrible habit when it comes to art teacher professional development classes: I have Creativity Constipation. Please tell me I'm not the only one. Some call it "slow processor"; my grandma ustah say, "Cassandra, either sh&& or get off the pot!" Normally, when I finally do come up with an idea, it's unattainably elaborate. Knowing this, I decided to keep my mosaic super simple: A Keith Haring-themed Celebration of a Messy Art Room.

 To which the instructor said at this stage of development: Oh! An Olympic theme! I love the torch, nice touch. 

(face. palm.)
 But lemme back up for a second as I believe I was supposed to be giving you some DIY directions in here. I started by pounding the daylights outta that clay until it was about cookie thickness. From there, I used a needle tool to trace around my Keith Haring-inspired dancing artist figure template. Once one was traced and the edges where smoothed, I flipped my template over and traced a second dude. With my left over bits of clay, I created the filler that you see: pencils, paint blobs, scissors, hearts, moons and rando organic shapes. By the way, that air dry stuff is not my fave. It kinda felt like I was sculpting with an uncooperative stale marshmallow. But that's par for the air-dry-clay course, I have found.
 I laid out all of my pieces directly onto the plexiglass and commenced painting.
 As soon as I was finished painting a piece, I laid it right back into it's spot. I knew that if I didn't, I'd totally forget where it went. By the way, it wasn't until I was about this far that I realized that all of my background pieces looked like Lucky Charms. They're magically delish, ya'll.
 Yay, not an Olympic Torch. 

Once the paint dried, I picked up each piece and glued it to the plexiglass frame. When that was complete, I decided that I didn't like that white "grout" background. I toyed around with a couple of color ideas for the back but in the end settled on black as it made my Lucky Charms "pop". And who wouldn't want that? So I painted a piece of paper black and inserted that into the frame.
And there you have it. I can't wait to hang this bad boy in my Disastrous "But it's an Art Room!" I think it'll go perfectly in-between those dingy tables and that crusty sink. Until next time, ya'll, fly that flag high! And, please, save that classroom teacher a heart attack and go wash your paint-stained hands. 


  1. I generally go to bus duty with my hands covered in colors! Wednesday I was dressed for a retirement dinner ( what I call my "chocolate chip mint" tie-dye maxi dress) My hands were covered in red paint from my Kinder's abstract flags... everyone was amazed how none of it ever made it on my dress! Art teachers have mad bobbing and weaving skills! I had a principal years ago that would not enter my room for fear of getting something on his suit! I would tease him because he would only go as far as my door! I had to laugh when you said the instructor called your paintbrush a torch! ( really? ) :)

    1. Oh man, I give my principal ladies the hardiest time about only walking so far into my art room!! That's funny. It's like I have some sort of forcefield around my room that keeps 'em out, ha! And you are right, we do have fantastical dirt-dodging skillz! It's how we got the job, right?!

  2. they DO look magically delicious! thanks for sharin:)

  3. Love Keith Haring.....I did a super cool arts integrated lesson during my college stint that of course I'll never get to use in a real classroom...but can dream ! And if there is one thing that has always amazed me about you is how DO you stay clean all day ?? Seriously.....I ruin every outfit I own even with an apron on - shoot - I think I ruin them WORSE wearing an apron because it gives me a false sense of security when I"m making artwork.....perhaps should just pull the shades and paint naked....Lol

    1. I have cat-like reflexes, what can I say?! I did manage to get one sad permanent ink spot on a fave dress in a most unfavorable place (the nip-area, sigh). So, it happens. It adds to the crazy art teacher look, right...?!

  4. love your post! my principal came in with that horrified face this week and asked why the custodians didn't clean my floor, i turned to her politely and said i think they gave up :)

    1. Haha!! I had to ask mine to stop it with the mopping when we were working with clay. I mean, what's the point? I used to have one sweet custodian who would CLEAN MY SINK WITH COMET at the end of each day. It was beautiful...but I felt so bad for him that he did it everyday only for me to mess it up again. I think it's kinda funny that your custodians were like, "eh, nah." haha!

  5. your "I really should clean" comment made me laugh! my room was always kind of organized around the perimeter, but inside looked like an art tornado had hit! my principal used to come in just to watch how we could use so many things at the same time and make it work. I had nothing white in my closet and on the fool day that I might wear something not patterned it was immediate that a paint brush would either fly thru the sky and hit me or a paint pot would fall and explode...we would laugh about it. I was famous for wiping my hands on my butt...and walking around with paint on my face..sometimes they would tell me, sometimes not!
    my (art project) question, I knew I would get to it: what did you glue the pieces to the plexi with? I'd like to try something like this is my art camp this summer. fabulous work!

    1. The image of a paint brush falling from the sky?! Priceless! For glue, I painted on that Aleene's Tacky Glue one at a time on the back of each piece. I just used a small bristle brush for painting on the glue. Just don't wipe that stuff on your butt!


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