Showing posts with label clay projects. Show all posts
Showing posts with label clay projects. Show all posts

Monday, March 27, 2017

In the Art Room: Clay Chameleons!

If you follow me on Instagram, then you've seen me over-sharing all of the clay projects that my kiddos will be creating during Clay Week. I like to go with a theme when it comes to clay as that makes the art show seem cohesive. Last year, we went with the clay theme of a 1950's Diner where all the kids created clay food. It was a big hit and a whole lot of fun. 

This year, I decided to go with a Pet Shop theme! You can actually view all of the clay videos I've created for my students right here (and feel free to use them). I add new art teacherin' videos every week so if it's something that you are interested in, you might want to subscribe.

Today, my third grade students watched this video in bite-sized pieces and were able to create their chameleon from start to finish. We did use up more than our normal hour long art class...thankfully, I have a plan time after this class and the teachers were kind enough to let me use some of their instructional time for the kids to finish. I work with some super supportive folks, y'all! Otherwise, this project would have taken us about an hour and a half.
I get a lot of questions on how I show my students my videos because they are pretty long. I don't show the video in it's entirety as that would be too much information for the kids to process. Instead, I show bite-sized portions. Then I send the kids to their seats to work. When a handful of them have finished and trickled back to the floor, then I call all of them to join us, finished or not, and we watch the next portion. For these guys that meant they learned how to make a leaf and then created it; came back to learn about how to make the body and legs of the chameleon and created it; and finally, they learned how to create the head and attach to the leaf. This keeps us up, active, busy and working the entire time. 
Have I told y'all lately that I wrote a clay book? You can scoop it up for preorder right here. When I first became an art teacher some 18 odd years ago, I'd never even taken a ceramics class. And yet...my first year teaching, clay was in my curriculum. With no kiln and a small budget, I had to create clay for my kids to use. Without much info online at the time, I scoured the public library for recipes and ideas. I learned many recipes and included them in the book. In fact, all of the projects in the book are made with no-kiln clays...but have been tested out with kiln fire clay. So it's for everyone!
Working on a book filled with 52 projects meant that I had to dream up, snap photos of and write about, well, 52 projects. Y'all, that's a lot! I learned many a thing working on that book...and I believe it has made me a better clay teacher. 
If you find clay to be intimidating as I once did, I have a surprise for you! I'm going to be offering a Crash Course in Clay here during the month of May! Follow me on Facebook and I'll keep you posted on the details. Here's a peek at how I set my tables up for clay: doggie bowls for water (from the Dollar Tree and they NEVER spill!), toothbrushes for scoring, skewers for carving, cutting and creating design, clay mats (which I have had for well over 10 years) from my friend Danielle McDanielle, aka The Clay Lady, usually lots of texture tools and sponges for wiping hands when they start to feel too dry. What do you keep on hand during clay time?
Oh! And I busted out the marker caps to make these fun eyes for the chameleons.
I'm thinking we will glaze these after firing. I hope I have some room in my budget to splurge on the glaze with the flecks of glass in it. I think that would be perfect for these little guys. I'll be sure to do a follow-up post once complete. 
I've tried many a thing when it comes to finishing clay projects: gouache, oil pastel and dip in black tempera and glaze. Which is your preferred method? 
By the way, this clay project could just as easily be done with air dry clay! You'll have to keep me posted if you give it a go. 
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Thursday, February 16, 2017

In the Art Room: I WROTE A BOOK!




I know I've mentioned this before...but now I can finally make it official because IT'S FINISHED! Guyz, I WROTE A BOOK! 
I still cannot believe it. In fact, I don't think I'll actually believe it until I have a hard copy in my hands. The book is not due to come out until mid-May but it is available for preorder on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, IndieBound, and Indigo. It is so surreal to see my name pop up on these sites!

What will you find in this book? 52 CLAY PROJECTS, Y'ALL. Clay that does not require kiln fire. The purpose of this book is to give kids the opportunity to explore creating homemade clays, store-bought air dry clay, paper clay, oven baked clays...you name it, I tried it out in this book. Writing this book, I approached it from an art teacher standpoint: would my students enjoy these clay projects? If you recall my 1950's diner-themed art show last year, then you actually got a glimpse of several projects in the book. For our art show, we used kiln-fired clay which means that the projects in the book are versatile enough to be used with just about any kind of clay you have available. It's a book for those who wish to explore clay with children regardless as to whether or not one has a kiln!

So, how did writing this book come to be? It all started last November. A lovely editor at Quarry books reached out to me and simply asked me if I'd be interested in writing a book. She had seen this Sculpey creation and this paper clay pumpkin and was curious to know if I had more up my sleeve. I'm not even gonna lie: I was so flattered to be asked to write a book that I immediately agreed before discovering that I'd be dreaming up, writing about and taking step-by-step photos of 52 clay projects. 


It wasn't until last February that the paperwork was signed and I was on the hook to write a book. And that's when reality set in. True Confession: I'm a BIG TIME procrastinator. And there ain't no procrastinating when it comes to book writing. There were several deadlines throughout that I had to meet which was a good thing as it kept me working...but it was tough because I had to give up precious time to do so. I spent weekends and nearly the entire month of June in my pj's from morning til night sculpting in clay, snapping a picture, sculpting a little more and snapping another picture. That part was fun. It was the writing the steps out that was more tedious. I mean, I write all the time on this here blog but I write in a very casual tone. I had to sound all legit and professional and yet kid-friendly and such for the book. Thankfully, I was working with wonderful editors who helped tremendously.

June 30th was my final deadline. I made it...and might I add on June 29th. Whew! Snapping hundreds of photos and editing them, writing endless pages of copy and doing rewrites...it all made me seriously consider my life's choices. My husband's favorite question was, "Well, do you regret saying yes?" that answer varied from day to day during the course of the creating. But now I can say Nope! I don't regret it a bit! His next question is usually, "Would you write another book?" Well, I've not been asked...so I don't know my answer. 

Thank you so much for letting me share my exciting news with you. It's so nice to see all that hard work, long hours and pj'ed weekends become something tangible. You'll have to let me know if you get a copy and what you think! 

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Thursday, February 2, 2017

In the Art Room: Heart Sculpture UPDATE!

Hey, y'all! I'm poppin' in to share with you an update on a clay project I posted here not too long ago. I did this lesson with my second grade students in 3 thirty minute art classes and it was a huge hit. I decided to not have my kids create the wings because I was fearful that they would break. I was inspired (as usual) by my good buddy Laura Lohmann to create the popsicle stick hangers. Here is the video'ed lesson:
List of supplies:

* One sheet of thin aluminum foil per student.
* One large bag of Celluclay per 60-80 students. I mixed up about an orange-sized piece of clay per kiddo.
* 10 large popsicle sticks per frame. I laid them out and hot glued two horizontal sticks across the back to act as braces.
* Paint in a variety of colors.
* Twisteez wire.
* Beads....LOTS of beads!
Day 1: We began by talking about sculpture and getting a sheet of aluminum foil. Together, we slowly sculpted our foil into a heart shape. I really used my peer tutoring to friends help others who needed it. We went to our seats and added the clay to our hearts. We worked fast and furious to get it all done in 30! 
Day 2: I put the hearts in front of a fan overnight. The next day, the kids painted their hearts and their "fences" using two different colors.
 Day 3: I took my drill to school and quickly drilled two holes in the top of the "fence" frame. The kids looked at Jim Dine's hearts and painted theirs with small brushes and Q-tips. I gave very little instruction, I wanted to see what they'd create. 
 So pretty, right?! That took no time at all. Then the kids added the wire to their frames. They did this by putting the wire in one hole, twisting it like a twist tie and then loading up with beads. I have a TON of beads and I was glad to have the kids use them up. They thought that was pretty much the best thing ever. Then they twisted the other end of the wire and BOOM! Masterpiece complete. 
 Not gonna lie: this project was labor-intensive on my part. I had to glue those frames, drill the holes and then hot glue the hearts to the frames when complete. I had a helper student slap ModPodge on the hearts so the paint wouldn't chip. I really love how they turned out and the kids had so much fun. The work was worth it. I am hanging them in the hallway tomorrow!
The kids are so excited to share these with their moms and dads! I heard many conversations on color choices based on mom's favorite color. So sweet. 
In fact, this young artist redid his entire bead pattern once he found the "perfect purple for my mom"! 
IN OTHER NEWS! You can find my interview with the lovely Heidi Easley of Texas Art and Soul here! It's free, fun and fabulous. So many awesome artsy folks interviewed. Y'all go and check it out and please tell me I don't sound like a crazy person ;)
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Thursday, January 26, 2017

In the Art Room: Clay Heart with Wings Update!

A few weeks ago, I was fortunate enough to lead the amazing teachers at my school in a clay session. It was apart of a team building experience and my trusty admin was open to just about anything. I decided to go with the theme of love as the teachers I work with are truly some of the most loving and caring folks. We chatted about how we love our students and give them wings to fly...and that was the message behind our creations. This morning, I took these beauties out of the kiln and I was so excited, I thought I'd share and give y'all and update!
If y'all recall, the teachers made and glazed these all in about 45 minutes. I had a lot of questions about glazing greenware (fresh clay) and I wanted to chat about the pros and cons. The reason I had the teachers do it all in one sitting as I know that our schedules are so crazy that I'd only have one shot to get everyone in the same room at the same time. The pro is that glazing greenware allowed me to do just that: get every masterpiece completed. The cons are that glazing greenware provides a more pastel look to the glaze coloring as the glaze mixes with the damp clay and dilutes it. Knowing that, when a glaze that didn't look complete in coverage, I added another coat before popping them into the kiln. I also had the help of my specials team who slapped clear glaze on all the pieces and helped me load the kiln (have I ever told y'all how much I love my team?!)
Knowing that I'd have a packed house that day, I decided to create a video that would walk them through the process. This made it so everyone could see and hear my directions while watching the video on my big screen T.V. Here is the video, feel free to use it!
By the way, this is low fire clay, cone 06 and Mayco's Stroke and Coat glaze. 
If you know me and my clay habits, you know I love me some textures in my clay. And I really love how the teachers each used them in their pieces.
 The texture on the heart on the right was from a freebie placemat!
 Several folks opted to leave their hearts all white and I really loved that look as well. The scrolls were created by some teachers...the plan is for them to write a message on the scroll in Sharpie.
 Check out this show stopper!!
I can't wait to have the teachers come and pick up their hearts tomorrow! The plan is for them to use cooper wire as a hanger for their heart. 
 I love how each artist put their own creative spin on their heart.
 The look of this one is so pretty. 
 I had so much fun leading this session...and I heard so much positive feedback from the teachers. I think everyone finds it relaxing to sit, chat and create. It was a fun way to return to school after the winter break. 
Speaking of my team, there's a few of them right there! Love these folks to pieces. 
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Sunday, January 8, 2017

In the Art Room: Clay Hearts with Wings

If you are a teacher, then you've probably experienced team building activities. They can either be big hits or misses, depending on the mindset of the group. I work at a school with a very low turn over rate, a whole lot of history and love, both for the children and each other. However, knowing that we were coming back from a break of much needed time off, I knew it might be hard to feel that love when we really just want to hibernate until spring (I could simply be speaking for myself here!). Before break, I asked my amazing administration if I could possibly host a team building activity on our most recent professional development day. I was so thrilled that they agreed and even more happy with the beautiful results...
I chatted with the teachers about how we teach from our hearts and give our students wings to fly. Our students don't see us for our outward appearance but what is in our hearts. I used this sweet poem as a reference. I don't know who the author is of this poem, if anyone does, I'd love to know!
Knowing that I would have a packed house, I thought it would be best to record the process and show it on my big screen telly. Here is the video. I played it in phases, pausing it to allow the teachers time to work. It took us 45 minutes to create and clean up. Not too shabby!
I loved hosting the teachers in my art room...and they were the best of sports. I was asking them to step out of their comfort zone and they did so happily. It was so fun!
Knowing that these teachers might have a limited creative background, I wanted to remove any obstacles. I didn't want this to be a frustrating experience for them but a fun one. One where they could chat, laugh, create and forget about any stresses. 
 Here are some short cuts I provided: 

* Templates. In the video I told them that they didn't have to use them...but almost all of them did. I was glad I took the time to make them.
* Tons of Textures. I didn't want the teachers to have to wait on each other as I knew we wouldn't have time. For textures, we used doilies, placemats, burlap...anything with a beautiful raised surface.
 * Toothbrushes and water cups. Instead of teaching them the slip and score method, I provided them with a tool that would get the job done much faster. 
 * Skewers. The best and cheapest clay cutting tool!
 And, finally, I provided glaze. Yes, glaze! You can glaze on greenware (or fresh, outta the bag, clay). I plan to do a clear glaze over all of the pieces before they are fired in the kiln. 
 We had such a fun time, I'm so lucky to work with these people!
Have y'all ever done a team building activity before? Love to hear about it!

Feel free to share this project with your admin and teachers. Also, this project is age appropriate for your elementary (and up!) students as well. We just might have to make this a school-wide endeavor. I'll keep you posted. 
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Sunday, October 9, 2016

DIY: Zombie Head Planters

These here Zombie Head Planters are the ugliest things I've ever made and I really couldn't be happier. Weird? Yes. Okay with that? Totes. 
I mean, you gotta have respect for something that finds brains appetizing, y'all. 
 So I got the idea to create these Zombie Head Planters last week after I wrapped up my last Celluclay creation. I STILL had half a bag left of the stuff (a little goes a long way...and even with these guys and the pumpkins, I still have some left over) so I actually have another project I'd love to do...but more on that later. 
Let's talk about the brainz-eaters at hand, shall we?
Over the summer, I picked up these little plastic planters from Target with the grand idea that I'd plant herbs in them or something. That didn't happen and so six of these dudes were sitting around collecting dust. I had been using them to prop up my pumpkin heads as I worked on them...which gave me the idea to create these. 
Need a review on how simple it is to work with Celluclay? Here you go!
Originally, I was just going to make the heads but I really liked the idea of the zombies having a body as well. So I used the upturned pottery for that. 
Again, I didn't sand the plastic or prep it in any way. The clay did take longer to dry this time as the weather is now cooler. So I put them in front of a fan overnight and they were dry the next day. They've yet to crack or flake off which is great. They are rock solid once painted and Modpodged. 
Painting was easy. I just picked a dark green color to paint everything, put them in front of the fan and started to dry brush on lighter colors. With a smaller brush, I added details. But, really, the painting is the easiest part. The surface of the Celluclay is perfect for zombies...who knew?!
My original idea was to have herbs in the planters but let's get real: I have a black thumb. So I shopped the heavily marked down fall floral isle of my local craft store and picked up what I thought would look good as hair and brain matter. I'm sure that's what everyone looks for in the floral isle, right?
True fact: I am no floral designer nor do I pretend to be. I seriously just used those floral foam thingies, hot glued some moss on that and stuck in some flowers. 
Side note: hot glue and styrofoam don't play well together. The hot glue melted the foam and, um, that was fun. I was watching Project Runway so I channeled my inner Tim Gunn and I made it work (which for me always means: ADD MORE HOT GLUE!).
And I'm kinda sorta thrilled with how they turned out! With faces only a mother could love. 
It's funny, whenever I'm tasked with creating something at a PD or otherwise, I ALWAYS make this lady. Sassy retro mama with a gnarly expression and usually a cigarette dangling from her lips. I think she's my spirit animal. 
This is my tribute to Gene Wilder's character in Young Frankenstein...note the hair. Of course, I had to zombie-ize him. I love how the moss looks like brains. 
P.S. these will NOT be on display in our bedroom. Their eyes seriously do follow you everywhere. 
Don't tell the others but this one is my favorite. It reminds me of Beetlejuice...which is super duper in my book. 
Now off to find just the perfect place in my house for these lovelies. Love to hear from you if you've worked with Celluclay and what you've created. You can comment below or shoot me an email. In the meantime, steer clear of the brain-eaters, y'all!
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