This year I resolved not to do any gigantic clay projects because they always take forever to fire and glaze (gigantic projects are my weakness). THEN I accidentally wrote this tray lesson and I’m glad I did because the results were bad ass. 

It all started because I wanted to do a unit on making and using molds- starting with this hump mold project, slump trays, and an awesome mask project (still to be blogged). Then I got over zealous and told the kids they could make their molds as big as they wanted as long as they would fit in the kiln. So. They are all as big as the kiln. Luckily, they’re short so it was easy to just use a bunch of shelves when firing. 

The students started by proposing a design. They had to choose a specific theme (open to interpretation), they had to plan to engrave something, plan to emboss something, and the tray was supposed to have handles (that requirement ended up being waived for some designs.)

After the designs were approved, each student drew their design to the exact size that they wanted it on a piece of newsprint. Then they made simple slump molds by cutting a piece of cardboard to size (insulation foam would work a little better in the future) and using rolled aluminum foil and masking tape to create the edges. They wrapped the whole thing in a plastic bag (to prevent sticking) and layed a slab of clay on top. I recommend using a sock with rice in it to press the clay into the mold. 

The students then easily transferred their design by putting the newsprint on the clay and tracing over everything- this way they don’t have to free hand it on the tray. 

After that, they went to work! Carving, adding clay, embellishing… you can see more progress pictures here.

Once the trays were leather hard, they were removed from the molds and fired. 

To glaze: the students had to layer different colors of glaze (we test fired the layers on small squares of clay first) and use an underglaze pencil. They also had they options of making stencils, using wax resist, and sponging on texture.

I absolutely adore the way these turned out. The glazing took a bit longer than expected so I would probably do a slightly smaller size next year but I will definitely be doing this lesson again. So proud of these students!

This is a super simple introduction to figure proportions that I did with my Drawing class before this project. I like it because it’s attainable and beneficial for all ability levels.

First, as a class we went over figure proportions. I had them pair up and measure each others height verses wingspan, foot to forearm, and height in heads.

Then we drew an 8 head figure together (me on the board, them in their sketchbooks). I had them draw a 1 inch head on another piece of paper, cut it out, and trace it eight times to create their starting point. They labeled each head 1-8 and then we started putting in shoulders, arms, legs and talked about waist, elbows, hand positions, etc.

THEN the kids paired up and got a wooden figure to draw from. They drew the figure three times with white charcoal (some drew in pencil first). The center figure was supposed to be standing straight and the other two could be arranged however they wanted. I had to remind them to use their knowledge of proportions but to also look at the figure and draw what they were really seeing- proportion rules are just loose guidelines. 

Once they were done with the figures, they used chalk pastels to outline them in different colors and then pulled the chalk out using a paper towel.

This is a really straightforward project but it’s fast and informative. The kids love playing with chalk and it lays the groundwork for more creative future projects using the knowledge of proportions.

BONUS the drawings end up looking like people at a crazy disco. 

I am so far behind documenting my end of the year projects. I’ll try to catch up over the next week. My ceramics class made these crazy coil vases and I love the way they turned out! It was my first time trying this project and I’ll definitely do it again. 

I started by having them make some test coil pots- just totally basic. One new thing I did was have them keep wet paper towels at their spot. I find the most frustrating thing for students is that the coils dry out as they roll them. I had them use the paper towels to keep their hands damp (not wet or everything gets slimy). Also, emphasized blending against the line of the coil until it disappears on the inside every single time they add a coil. 

After the test coils were done (which were beautiful on their own) I showed them a bunch of examples of these pots and did a quick demo.

Then students got a bowl and wrapped a plastic bag around it (the clay will stick to the bowl later if you skip that part) and started filling it with different shapes and coils of clay. 

The rule was no two rows of the same design (which I bent if the design was really interesting) and it had to be three inches above the top of the bowl.

The students glazed the red clay with an opalescent glaze which I love. They don’t love it so much because it doesn’t fully cover the clay. They also had the option to use a wax resist to add a bit more design.

This project is definitely a keeper, I love the process and the results!

I know it’s the end of the semester and my students are trying to get their work done on time…

but there was a group of 8 kids waiting for me to get here today so they could come in before school and work. There are a few kids who aren’t even in art classes and they’re just hanging out and drawing now. It is so sweet and sometimes little tiny things like this remind me why being the art teacher is the best. 

artededucator asked:

Hello! Love your skeleton lesson. How did you get everyone close enough to the skeleton to be able to draw it?

Thank you! I put the skeleton in the center of the room and circled tables around it. I also have some easels (enough for about half the class) that I set up around the room. That worked well for the studies. When they did the sections of the skeleton for the final drawings a lot of them choose the skull so I took a picture of the skull and projected it. I also let them take pictures of sections on their phones (which is technically illegal but I kept close watch on them) so they could zoom in on more specific details from their seats. 

I tried something new this semester and as a little warm up project to this stencil portrait project I had students design minimalist movie posters. 

The students got to choose their own movie or tv show then we looked at some examples of movie posters. We talked about including the very essentials of the story in the design and did some sketching and brainstorming. 

The students drew out their stencil designs on a piece of paper cut to the size of their canvas board (16x20). Then we talked a bit about white islands and trying to cut a stencil that was all one piece. After some simple editing, I took the drawings and laminated them. I used to do stencil projects cut from illustration board but laminated paper works just as well.

I showed the kids some different spray painting techniques they could try on their background and then they went to town! Spray painting with teenagers sounds like a nightmare but it was actually a lot of fun! They were very detailed and precise so it did take a little longer than expected. 

I think the results are really great and their portraits are turning out better than ever! Next year I would probably have them do this with two stencils layered on top of each other to make the designs a little more detailed. 

Every once in a while a project surprises me and this one has been one of my favorite surprises of the semester. 

All of these students had the same project guidelines. They had to:

-draw a portion of the skeleton (I borrowed a skeleton from the science department for them to draw)

-Draw something in the skeleton and around the skeleton

-Fill the page

-Use some shading or perspective in the drawing

I love how different these all are! I’ve also noticed that the students are prouder of their work when they get to make more decisions about the project.

We spent two days doing quick studies of the skeleton. Then, the students had to do a quick sketch and propose their ideas and materials to me. While they were drawing their skeleton I did a lot of walking around, pointing out shapes and proportions that needed to be adjusted. After they had their skeletons sketched on their final paper, I was able to step back and let them experiment with materials, techniques, and designs. It’s been a really fun final project and gave the kids a great chance to express themselves. 

In the last four years I have taught perspective a billion different ways. I always revamp perspective lessons on a never ending quest to make them as effective as possible. I’ve found that students really like learning about perspective because it explains a lot of mysteries of drawing. However, I always have a hard time translating drawing an imagined space in perspective to drawing from observation. So that’s what I’ve been focusing on this semester and I’ve figured out somethings that are working! 

These are some pictures from my 2-Point unit. We started off with a really simple intro to 2-point (boxes floating in the air-style). Then I wanted the kids to get a real experience drawing an interior in 2-point but I haven’t had great success with that before. To simplify, I took a picture of the area of the school we would be drawing, projected it and drew on top of it to demonstrate how they could find their vanishing points. They had some time to think about the space before we went out to draw. You guys, it’s really hard to draw in perspective from observation and 85% of the kids did an awesome job! They had two class periods to work and then they were able to add detail and color in the classroom for a day. I’m so proud of the way these turned out, a few of the kids really went beyond my expectations. 

The other thing we are doing is drawing a crazy still life of boxes. This is also the culmination of our charcoal unit so the kids are using either an additive or subtractive charcoal method to draw the box still life in 2-point with detailed value. To avoid trying to keep the still life untouched I hot glued all of the boxes together. (How have I never thought of that before?!)

One little prep exercise we did- I clustered the boxes in groups of three (before they were glued) and the kids had to do quick gesture drawings of each set to get a feel for the proportions and the way the boxes sit in space. 

So far the still lifes are turning out pretty well! I’ll post pics of the finished drawings soon!