Ceramics is a great hands-on art activity that can be tied to curriculum at all grade levels and skill range. We have the opportunity to introduce art concepts like shape, texture, perspective, pattern, color, and line.  Creating objects of clay make tangible connections to history, culture, science and math.

We have a kiln, clay, glaze, books and tools for making ceramics. From pinch pots to tiles and coil figures to native masks and so much more! Let’s embrace this opportunity to teach our children art concepts and creative connections to learning, and create school-age mementos to cherish forever!

 

Instructions and Procedures:

  • Equipment, Supplies and Storage

 

All materials and supplies for ceramics are kept in the custodian’s office in the southwest corner of the room. The custodian’s office is located in the northwest corner of the commons (cafeteria). Here you will find the kiln, the clay, tools, instructional books, drying shelves and storage.

 

  • Preparation

 

Project idea- A great place to start looking for a project idea is the current curriculum. What are the students learning about? How can you make ceramics that relate to that subject? For example, pinch pots can be made to grow plants for science, or objects can be made that relate to a reading segment. The resource books have great ideas and endless possibilities can be found online. Keep in mind the grade level when searching for appropriate kids projects.

 

Planning- Once you have established your project idea, make plans with the teacher to schedule time to complete the project. Ceramics projects will usually take two sessions of 45 to 60 minutes each, with at least one week in between sessions. One session for shaping the clay and the other session for glazing (coloring). Some projects may not require glazing.

 

Prepare- Have all materials ready before hand. Using a wire, *cut clay into individual pieces and store them in a sealed bag. Each student will use between ¼ - ½  pound of clay per project. Clay working tools, small cups for water and paper towels will also be needed.

 

*The Clay comes in 50 lb. boxes. (2)- 25 lb. clay blocks in individual bags. The clay block measures approximately 12” x 6” x 6”.  1- 1” x 6” x  6” slab = 2 lbs.  Cut slab in half to make 2- 1# pieces. Cut slab in thirds to make 3- 2/3# pieces. Cut slab in quarters to make 4- ½ # pieces, and so on.

Working with Kids and Clay:

  • Work Area

 

The cafeteria is the recommended work area for ceramics. Because of the close proximity to the materials, drying shelves and kiln, and for easy clean up, this is the best location to work with the clay. The tables closest to the custodians office work great and you can spread out over 4 tables. If this space is unavailable for your scheduled project time, the class room will be the alternative. Check available dates and times on the calendar in the cafeteria and place teacher name to reserve your place. No ceramics during lunch 11:15-1:15.

 

Place clay and a paper towel at each work area per student. Paper towels are used to keep the clay from sticking to the table.

 

  • Clay forming

 

Explain- Describe to students what the project is and how it relates to the curriculum or purpose of the project.

 

Demonstrate- Use your own piece of clay to show students how to work with the clay. The kids will understand by seeing what you do. Work step by step with students.

  • Wedge the clay. Press the clay with palm of hand on paper towel surface to soften and work out air bubbles.
  • For Pinch Pots show how to start the pot and what the pinching motion looks like. For Coils show how to roll the clay. For Slab construction show how to roll out the clay. For attaching pieces of clay, show how to score the clay with a cross hatch (hashtag #) pattern and moisten with water before pushing the pieces together.
  • Use tools to carve, shape, cut and smooth the clay.
  • Clay thickness should stay between ¼” – ½”. If too thin it will crack apart. If too thick it may explode in the kiln.
  • If the clay is beginning to dry out use a small amount of water to smooth out the cracks and use tools and hands to make clay as smooth as possible.

 

  • Drying

 

When the projects are complete, place them carefully on the wire shelves to dry. Dry time is usually 5-7 days.

The Ceramics are in the Green ware Stage. Dry but not fired. Clay is grey in color.

The Custodian or Ceramics Program Chairperson will run the kiln for the first firing.

After first firing the Ceramics are in the Bisque ware Stage. The color is white.

 

 

  • Glazing

 

When the ceramics are fired and cooled to room temperature they can be glazed.

Glazing is the coloring part of ceramics. This paint like substance is applied to the surface of the bisque ware with a paint brush. Colors can be mixed to make other colors. Students can make elaborate designs, patterns and pictures or can keep it simple.

 

Use small cups (recycled yogurt cups) to dispense the glaze. Put 1 tablespoon of glaze in cup at a time. Additional glaze can be added in small amounts. It does not take too much glaze to cover project. The glaze is expensive and should not be wasted.

A second coat may be applied for more vibrant color.

 

Do not glaze the bottom of ceramic project!  Any surface that is planned to rest on the shelves of the kiln should be free of any glaze. During the firing process, the glaze will melt and adhere to the kiln shelves and may become stuck to the surface.

 

When glazing is finished, projects should be placed on the drying shelves in the ceramics area of the custodian’s office. Clean up surfaces and brushes with water and return all brushes to ceramics supply area.

The Custodian or the Ceramics Program Chairperson will run the kiln for the second firing.

Now the ceramics are glazed and finished!

 

If you have any questions please contact Jennifer Waite

or ask the custodian for guidance.

 

Thank you for your participation with the Kennydale PTA Ceramics Program!

 

Ceramics Area of the Custodian’s Office