Friday, December 30, 2016

Making an Impression with Ceramic Lace Bird Ornaments

Finished Ceramic Ornaments on Kiln Shelf

I want to share a fun project that can be used when you want your students to be able to make something to take home as a gift. This is something that works well for all students, regardless of skill level and/or need for adaptive devices or accommodations.  For those students who have a Christmas tree, they make a great ornament. For anyone else, they make a great piece of art that can easily be displayed anywhere.

Since my students are doing so well with the slab techniques and are loving textures, I decided to have them create something that would involve rolling a slab, creating a texture by imprinting something into the clay, and would require a different glaze technique. I think they did a great job! 

This is a great activity for all ages and/or abilities! Below are the actual photos I used to create a visual direction sheet for my students. For all of the clay projects I do with my students, I create a sheet of the steps illustrated with photos. This is key to everyone being successful. It also eliminates any confusion anyone else helping the students may have, such as aides and/or paraprofessionals.
Canvas, 2 Rulers, and a Rolling Pin

Place the clay between the two rulers.

Roll the clay until it is a height even with the rulers.

Place doilies on top of the clay.
Use the Rolling Pin to lightly press the doilies into the clay surface.
Gently remove the doilies from the clay.
Lay a template for the bird body and wing on the clay.
Use a clay tool to trace around the templates.
(Press all the way through the clay.)

Remove extra clay from around the templates as you cut.

You should have a bird body and a bird wing.
Use a tool or toothpick to score the back of the wing.
Add slip on the scored area and lay in place on the bird body.
Use a tool or toothpick to smooth the edges around the wing.
Make sure the wing is attached and there are no gaps.
Use a tool to create a hole above the wing.
This hole can be used for attaching a ribbon or string for hanging.

The bird ornaments are then bisque fired. Students use a brush to apply a thick coat of blue underglaze to the top of the bird. Then, they use a small, damp sponge to wipe any glaze from the raised areas of the bird. The raised areas are then painted with a coat of white underglaze using a foam brush. When the birds are dry, clear glaze is added to them in order to give a nice uniform clear sheen. The ornaments are glaze fired to cone 06.

This is an activity that many of my students with limited hand use are able to do with assistance and they are very excited to see the results. The sponging and foam brushes work well for students who struggle with fine motor skills. Everyone can be successful and the ornaments look great! 

I try to come up with ideas for my students that can highlight what they are capable of doing instead of their limitations. Art projects that allow them to explore and be creative while also creating art that    can appeal to others aesthetically in order to build an appreciation of their artwork. An appreciation that gives my students a sense of pride in what they can offer others through art. Clay for form and function! Love it!