Saturday, November 5, 2016

Routines and Organization with Ceramics

Glazing Table for Ceramics
Tray for Sanding Supplies

Having a routine to material set-ups helps even the the most challenged students become more independent in the learning process.  You can see in the photo of the Glazing Table, I have the steps broken down by trays and "Start" and "Finish". The labels really help students to know where to begin and what to do with their work when it is complete. I also think for some students, seeing there is an end to the task makes it more manageable. The actual physical boundaries created by the trays not only keeps things neat, but they also create visual lines of separation that help the students.

The trays, I just keep buying more! They are so helpful for ceramics! They are marketed as trays for plant liners or for holding shoes. I get them at the dollar store for $1.99 each and they are really sturdy. They work great for unloading the kiln and for organizing work for class.
Black Trays I Use for Ceramics

So, the first tray I begin with is the Sanding Tray. The Sanding Tray has pieces of sandpaper, dusting brushes, and trays. The students sand their pieces on the tray to keep the mess at tables down to a minimum. When the piece feels smooth on all of the edges, they use a dusting brush (stiff paint brush) to remove any dust on to the tray. Then, the students clean the tray and remove the brush and the sandpaper from the tray. If we are focused on just sanding and they are finished, the pieces go on the finished tray. If we are sanding as we go, the pieces stay on their red tray to be glazed. 

Tray With Bisque Pieces to Sand
The "Start" tray always has the bisque pieces we are working with for that class period. If it's a group project, everything is just mixed together. If we are working on individual projects, everything would be clearly labeled. In the picture below, you see bisque leaves that are being used to create fall leaf wind chimes. Next to the "Start" tray, is the "Finish" tray. 
Tray for Sanded Bisque Pieces
This is where the pieces go when they are sanded smooth, unless we are glazing as we go.

The "Start" tray for glazing is the tray in the photo labeled "Tray for Glazed Pieces in Process". Due to the fact that glazes are usually applied in 2-3 coats, sometimes students do not finish. This tray gives us a "parking lot" until students can return to their pieces.  
Tray for Glazed Pieces in Process

The final tray "Finish" is the tray where the glaze pieces that are complete are places. I then move these pieces to the clay area of the classroom until I have enough to fire the kiln. 

Students learn the process and are able to move independently through the steps. I find this takes away some of the "I'm done" from students because with this layout, they know (or can figure out) what's next.
Tray for Completed Glaze Pieces

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