Monday, October 24, 2011

HS Clay Animals

So I realize that some of you may think this project might be a little juvenile for HS students.  However, if you have a little background you may understand...and they turned out great anyway! 
I am the 5th art teacher in 6 school years in my school district.  And this is my 2nd year here.  On the high school level, my classes are all the same and I teach a little bit of everything.  We draw, paint, do clay projects, etc.  It's hard to fit in a little of everything and build on skills...I've discovered this recently.  I did 2 or 3 clay projects last year, so even if I have those students again this year, they haven't done a whole lot with clay.

*Sidenote: I'm thinking of approaching my projects in terms of units in the future for JH and HS.  Like 5 weeks of drawing basics, 5 weeks of painting, 3 weeks of clay, etc.  Right now I just do random things and there doesn't seem to be much cohesion and it bothers me a little.  I want to see that my students are learning and building on skills and it is hard to see sometimes when we jump around a lot.  Do you do this?  Is it successful? 

Anyway back to clay, we created 2 pinchpots and put them together and used that as an animal body.  Students then chose an animal and added on animal features.  They had SO much fun with this project!  And to me that is what counts.  Yes, they probably do not have the skills they should when it comes to clay. But I'm doing the best I can and my kids can't wait to do clay again!
I did have a few that exploded in the kiln and I feel so bad when this happens!  One of them I thought was going to break and it did.  The other 2, I'm not sure why they broke.  Sometimes clay is so unpredictable.  I didn't make my students re-do them and just gave them points based on their construction prior to firing.  What do you do about pieces that break beyond repair?  Any suggestions?  

Here are some results some before firing and some with glaze:

Whale with top hat, bow tie, and eye glass

Duck with Baseball Cap

Bull Dog

I started creating one as well but ended up spending more time helping the students than I thought so by the time I got back to mine it was drier than I wanted.  But I finished it anyway.  I left it out to start drying and the next morning as I was taking a shower I remembered I didn't poke a hole in my pinchpots!  Funny timing to remember, but never the less I attempted to poke holes in it later but it exploded in the kiln anyway.  Wish I had taken a picture before I put it in!  I find it somewhat ironic that I forgot but STRESSED so much to my kids to make sure they had a hole in the hollow parts...when things like that happen you just have to laugh!


  1. In no way is this project juvenile for HS kids. From experience, they love this kind of stuff! Plus, ceramics isn't easy! For most of them it's the first time they've ever touched clay. Projects like this teach them the basic skills they need to know, and lets them have a little fun in the process. Great lesson!

  2. Thank you! From the little clay work my kids have done, I was impressed :)And yes...ceramics is not easy!
    We've moved on to another project and every day someone asks when we are doing another clay project! I have some other ideas up my sleeve that we may do sometime.