Thursday, February 17, 2011

Hands in Clay at West Hempfield Elementary School

Working with Lindsay Hirshberg at West Hempfield Elementary School is delightful. She is an enthusiastic and energetic art teacher who inspires great manners, art skills and positive attitude from all her students from grade K-5. This year our residency encompasses a 20 day time period that hits about 650 students with some basic clay skills and a final piece that will hang proudly in the school library.

I donated about 100 pounds of porcelain clay along with a variety of tools to use and finally Coyote glazes and cut glass for our final pieces. The core group of students met with me every morning and even on afternoons before their buses came to take them home for the day. We divided easily into teams and each team came up with a garden scene of 12 tiles. The rest of the student body of the entire school each made a smaller tile with garden themes to be part of the larger mosaic. These students also created their own take home piece as well.

In order to save time with such a large student body and a school that does NOT own a kiln, I single fired the works. The smaller pieces I simply used one of two underglazes and then put a clear glaze to finish the works. The core group tiles were more complicted with using Coyote glazes and then I placed some cut glass before firing.

The biggest success was in being able to teach the entire school the simple process of actually sculpting the clay with the four simple S words I love to use with clay......Scratch, Slip, Stick and Smooth.....even with basic tools and small hands, each child created a piece worthy of any aspiring artist. So far, I have managed to fire two loads (about 600 pieces so far) and later this week hope to finish the last firing load, making the total of three full loads.

When I go back in April, we will put the pieces together in our final mosaic and then do some actual painting work on another project involving the alphabet and animals.....I can hardly wait!

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