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Ceramics

Santa Barbara Ceramic Tile Mural

Santa Barbara Ceramic Tile Mural

By on May 31, 2016 | 4 comments

Have you ever thought about creating a collaborative mural with you students? It helps not to think about the logistics. Just imagine how it would feel to walk inside a school courtyard and see a decade’s worth of murals peppering the stucco walls. Over the past ten years, I created and co-created over 13 murals. Want to see them? 2007 Ancient Greece Mural   2007 California Produce Mural 2008 Earth Science Mural  2008 Keith Haring Mural 2009 Literature Inspired Mural 2009 Butterfly Inspired Mural 2010 Nautical Mural 2011 California Marine Life Mural 2012 Ancient Greece Mural 2013 America the Beautiful 2014 Kimmy Cantrell-Inspired Mural 2015 Cars: Past, Present & Future Mural I’m missing photographs of my very first mural–California Coastline. It was a biggie and the scope of the project almost deterred me from ever making mural again, but as you can see from the pictures above, that I did. If you want to make a mural like the ones above, I put together a How to Make a Ceramic Tile Mural PDF packet. It details all the steps that go into making a mural like this one. The only steps I don’t cover are the installation. I highly recommend anyone who is interested in this type of installation,refer to a contractor in your area. Installations differ depending on climate and interior or exterior mounting.   2016 Ceramic Mural: Santa Barbara  For my last mural with the students at Brandon Elementary, the teachers chose the theme: Santa Barbara. Like all murals, we scheduled 45 minutes to explain the mural process to the kids, detail the theme and provide visuals for tile possibilities. I wanted to keep the mural-making simple this year as I wouldn’t be on campus to tweak and adjust, so we chose a grid style with collaborative tile groups as an option. This particular 6th grade class were highly individualistic and many chose to work alone.  You can decide if this is okay with you. Some years, we only offered collaborative grids within the theme and other years we chose entirely solo tiles. Most of the drawing day was spent trouble shooting groups, adjusting for the exact number of students and tiles (math plays a part here) and making...

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Ancient Dwellings Rock Art

Ancient Dwellings Rock Art

By on Mar 6, 2016 | 2 comments

This art project offers kids the opportunity to create their own rock art petroglyphs using terra cotta clay scraps and white paint. And the best part is that the project takes less than 45-minutes. To start, read your favorite ancient rock art book. I picked up a copy of Ancient Dwellings of the Southwest in Arizona but there are many other books that illustrate the art of our earliest habitants. This is a project that is perfect for air dry clay. Sometimes with air dry clay, the small details in a work of art can be chipped off, but this flat shape is safe from the typical perils of it dry clay. Purchase terra cotta clay and you’ll make the project even easier to do (and more authentic). I gave each student a handout of petroglyph drawings. If you don’t have one, you can download one from a site similar to this one or make your own. We practiced etching with a wooden dowel on clay and then they drew their petroglyph on their clay square (about 3″ x 3″). It would be far easier to just paint the image on the square but it didn’t really occur to me at the time, so etching is what we did. After the students etched their design, they use white underglaze to paint on top. If you are using air dry clay, using acrylic paint or even liquid tempera paint would work very well. I fired the clay rock tile since they were dry. No glaze is needed. Here’s what my group of second graders created: If you are looking for a more detailed lesson on cave paintings, take a look at...

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Create With Clay Projects for K-3

Create With Clay Projects for K-3

By on Jan 27, 2016 | 7 comments

  As much as I like watching kids color and paint, there is absolutely no substitute for the tactile experience of clay. I am lucky to have a kiln at my school but not everyone does. You may be a home-educator who doesn’t own a kiln (nor should you!) or even a classroom teacher who prefers to work without the kiln-experience. While it’s true that it’s hard to replicate kiln-fired clay and gloss glaze, you can come pretty close. If you have access to basic art supplies like Crayola air-dry clay, liquid tempera paints and Mod-Podge, then you can do all of the projects in this booklet. I explain how to create a fish and a lizard using both kiln-fire and air dry clay and these techniques can be applied to all projects. This booklet is designed to give you step-by-step instructions so you can make creative clay projects with your kids and students. There are SIX projects included in this packet and every project sis easily made with either kiln-fired clay or air dry clay. Templates help students easily create the shape from a clay tile.  ...

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Kimmy Cantrell Inspired Ceramic Tile Mural

Kimmy Cantrell Inspired Ceramic Tile Mural

By on Jun 3, 2014 | 3 comments

The most anticipated projects of the year for my sixth grade students is the theme selection and creation of a ceramic tile mural. Starting around January, the sixth grade teachers and I start bouncing around some ideas.  This year, we considered Egyptian Art (no gold underglaze available), Rainforest, Endangered Animals and a few more. I ended up with a Kimmy Cantrell inspired mural all because of Donna Staten’s Pinterest boards on the artist. His work was relatively unknown to me before I discovered Donna’s pins. After her inspiration, I did a bit more research and decided that his art was perfect. Cantrell’s art is understandable for kids, offered many opportunities for individual creativity and the tile-making process could focus on individual tiles instead of the collaborative themes that we have done in the past. All key components when deciding on a mural theme. I’ve done ten murals in 13 years. I know how much work is involved, what steps are the most efficient, what to do when things go wrong and how to involve our school district for help. If you are considering a mural for your school, you can read about the entire process in my Ceramic Tile Mural  Project PDF. But in summary, I can tell you that there is more prep on the teacher’s part than work done by the students. The day before the mural-making session with the students, I prep the materials like making the clay tiles, organizing tools, re-hydrating my underglazes and writing some steps on the white board. It only takes me about 4-5 hours to do the prep for this type of mural, but collaborative murals in which the children work in groups to create a collection of tiles, takes much longer. The first step to all murals is to figure out what the children’s tiles will look like. For this year’s mural, each child drew their design on a piece of paper that is cut to the same size as the tile. I spoke about Cantrell’s art and created a handout to use as inspiration. After drawing on the paper, the children transfer their designs onto a flat tile using extra tile bits for add-ons. Some mural themes take longer to build, so painting is usually done at the bisque...

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Pinch Pot Animals for Kinder and First Grade

Pinch Pot Animals for Kinder and First Grade

By on Apr 9, 2014 | 24 comments

At the request of one of my Kinder teachers (who showed me a very cute ceramic cat and bird inspiration piece), I created a seemingly simple pinch pot lesson for my 3 Kinder Classes. My goal was to teach a basic clay pinch pot to my Kinders but create three different animals: a cat, a bird and a mouse. Here are the two inspiration pieces… Pretty cute, right? I thought so, too. Basically, I figured that each child would need just a small amount of clay, form it into a pinch pot, pull two little ears and then scratch-attach a tail. Truth is, that’s a tall order for 5-year olds who have never worked with clay before. But I pressed on… Step One: Pinch Pot Most every kids was able to successfully create a pinch pot. Make sure your clay is soft so their little hands can manipulate the clay easily. I tell the children to smooth out the bumps and wrinkles by pretending to pet the kitty (or bird or mouse). This seem to work and the children were becoming quite emotionally attached to their pets. Step Two: Pulling Ears and Beaks Pulling clay to form tiny ears and beaks proved to be the most difficult part of the building process. It might be easier to actually scratch-attach the ears and beaks but breakage seemed likely. Most kids were able to form ears but beaks were slightly harder. Step Three: Adding Tails, Wings and Mice Ears To add a tail to the cat, my first group used a coil method to create a snake. I’m not going to lie. Most kids needed help guaging the size of the coil. We used the flat end of a wooden dowel to poke a hole in the cat’s behind and we stuck the tail inside. Moistening it with some water helped keep the tail from slipping out. Then the kids wrapped the tail around the cat’s body so it would break off. For the bird, the little wings were created by rolling out a small amount of clay, flattening it into a small cookie (think Thin Mints) and cutting the flattened circle in half. By smoothing out the edges with a...

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How to make a Coil Pot

How to make a Coil Pot

By on Oct 21, 2013 | 26 comments

Making coil pots is a standard practice in many art rooms, but for me, I held off teaching them for over six years. For some reason, they scared the dickens out of me.  I had seen far too many elaborate coil pots photographs that I couldn’t imagine my students completing a project of this scale in the time period that I had. My concerns were justified because coil pots can take some time to complete. If you are new to ceramics or don’t have a kiln and you don’t have much time with your students, here are a few tricks to ensure coil pots make your art project list. Tip #1 Keep your expectations low. You will not be making this: (Credits: Left Tia Made, right Pippi’s Jewelry) Of course, you could, but they take some serious time. Instead, we will attempt to make a pot that requires only two, 50-minute sessions. Building the Coil Pot 1. This is a great project to do towards the end of a ceramic unit when you have a bunch of clay balls. I keep my clay balls in the original clay bag and add a sprinkling of water every now and then to keep the clay moist. Give each child a few balls of clay and 1 tile of clay. 2. Use a plastic container cover to trace a circle from the flat piece of clay. This will be the base of the clay pot. Peel away excess clay and keep for “ropes”. 3. See how the ropes are placed around the round bottom? To make sure they stick, use a mixture of clay bits, water and a splash of vinegar to make a “slip”. The vinegar adds some stickiness to the slip and also aids in the breakdown of the clay. Demonstrate how to brush a bit of slip onto the flat base, place rope on top and brush rope with some slip. It’s just like adding wet sand to a sand castle. Holds everything together. 4. How to make ropes: This is by far one of the more challenging ceramic techniques for kids in my opinion. It’s very hard to keep the ropes even in size, so make sure not to...

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