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!