August 20

BUT WHAT ABOUT CLAY???

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It has come to my attention that lots of Visual Arts programs/classrooms don’t seem to be doing clay anymore!

grade 1 clay

grade 1 clay 57

I have developed this opinion after discussing it, off the cuff, at school, at network meetings, at our Outer West Visual Art Teachers Network Professional Learning Day, earlier this year, talking to colleagues at last year’s Art Education Victoria Conference, etc, etc, etc.

grade 1 clay 53

grade 1 clay 53

And, as far as I am aware, modelling is still a part of the Visual Arts Curriculum in Victoria.

grade 1 clay 54

grade 1 clay 54

I use clay for most of my modelling sessions. It’s fun. It’s messy! It’s cheap! And my students love it! And I love it!

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grade 1 clay 65

And, let’s face it, the Visual Arts room is the last place in the school where you are not only allowed, but encouraged, to make a mess, while you express yourself!

clay man in boat

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So what is happening out there? Are you still doing clay at your school? Have you got a kiln that is no longer being used? Why not? Do you find it too messy? Seriously? Or is all the kiln firing too time consuming? is it an OH&S matter at your school? Why? Do you use alternative materials to clay for modelling or is it just not part of your Visual Arts curriculum any more???? Do you find it a bit scary – a bit out of your comfort zone? Would it be helpful if more networks or other bodies were offering more professional learning in this area?

grade 1 clay face 22

grade 1 clay face 22

Please reply and comment on my observation as I would really like to know what you think.

Shell

PS I have mentioned this to my students and they have been as horrified as I am that there are other students out there who seem to be missing out on such a wonderful material to learn and have fun with in the art room.

grade 1 clay face 27

grade 1 clay face 27

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4 thoughts on “BUT WHAT ABOUT CLAY???

  1. Natalie

    Hi there,

    As a rather “New to teaching Art” teacher, working with clay freaks me out! I have completed a PL at Zart with clay but haven’t had the chance to work with it yet. My previous school had a kiln but due to OH & S issues, I couldn’t use the $1000 worth of clay I’d ordered (and had to return!). I’ve not worked with clay since I was a school student, and with the school I am in this year, we have no kiln. The school hasn’t had an art teacher for many, many years so having me here this year has been wonderful. I’m actually a trained Year 5-12 English, History and Geography Teacher. Fell into teaching Vis Arts a couple of years (such a wonderful change in my teaching career), and have yet to explore all that Vis Arts has to offer. I suppose working with clay worries me as I do not have the experience nor the skills, etc. But I’m thinking of experimenting with air dry clay next year as I totally can see why it’s such a wonderfully exciting media for the students to work with!

    Reply
  2. shelleymenhennet (Post author)

    Thank you Natalie for commenting on my post.
    Trying to get a primary school Prin to buy a kiln Is difficult but perhaps if you put the cost of the kiln and installation, including correct ventilation broken up into your budget, say over 2 years, and then organising to do all your firing at another school, perhaps a local high school, over the next 2 years to prove to your Prin that it is worth spending the money to get it. I know it sounds ridiculous but sometimes you have to play the long game! And a Prin unused to having an art teacher may need extra convincing to open the school wallet! Don’t forget to remind your Prin that generally all students fine motor skills are low, their handwriting, their drawing, their cutting skills, etc as they are now spending so much time on computers and iPads and that modelling is a fantastic way for the students to strengthen these muscles. And I don’t think you should be too worried about your lack of skills, you can learn along with your students once you are brave enough to take the plunge. I do clay with my students for a 4 or 5 week block, depending on the project. The first session is always a favourite as my students know that it is their chance to get to know the clay again and during this session they can make anything they like and i photograph their amazing creations on my iPad before they pack the clay away again. The following week I introduce the project to the students, pointing out the skills they need to practice. They then practice their pinch pot fish, or folded owl, etc over the next few sessions ensuring they can create their finished piece, using correct technique, in an hour session. The last session we then make their final piece, after several weeks of refinement and put it on the classroom shelves to dry out before kiln firing. I often make larger , more complex pieces with the grade 5 and 6 children which I wrap in cling wrap to continue on with during the following session. The younger students clay work is painted after firing but I like to use glaze with grade 6. I am more than willing to talk to you further about clay projects I have done in the past and offer you any help that I can. Model magic made by Crayola or paper magic clay, which is Zart Art’s alternative product is terrific to use. I like to incorporate a small bit of this into other artworks as this can cut down he expense of this material. This year the grade 3 students have painted sunflowers after learning about Vincent Van Gogh and each of them used model magic to create a 3D flower head for one of the flowers in their vase. Once stuck on the cartridge paper with supertac glue they are painted with acrylic paint. they look fantastic! I fell into Visual Arts teaching too and I absolutely love every minute of it!

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