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Re: [art_education] Help with Setting Up Ceramics in Junior High Class

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  • Liz Egan
    I cycle my classes (grade 5-8) through clay, so only one class per day is working on clay at a time. This cuts my need for storage. during a 10-week
    Message 1 of 3 , Aug 2, 2007
      I cycle my classes (grade 5-8)  through clay, so only one class per day is working on clay at a time.  This cuts my need for storage.  during a 10-week quarter, each of my 6 classes does at least one project, (of course they sometimes overlap).  The projects are differentiated by grade level and built on past year's (quarter's) skills.  Over their time in middle school they do slab, coil, modeling, pinchpots, sgraffito, wheel thrown, and burnishing making lidded boxes, jugs, bowls, and sculpture.  By 8th grade they are able to combine many techniques.
      At the end of each class students add small scraps of clay to the SLIP containers ( I use old deli containers for this purpose) with water added.  It keeps the supply of slip fresh and never ending.  I throw the plastic containers away at the end of the year and make fresh slip at the beginning of the school year.  Larger scraps are wrapped in a damp cloth and put back into the plastic bag for reuse the next class.
      I use 12 x 12 masonite boards, not canvas, for them to wedge out their clay.  An initial investment, to be sure, but I have about 50 and they have lasted 5 years! The masonite serves two purposes - a) to wedge out the clay, and b) to build their project on.  At clean-up, they wrap their project in a damp cloth and place the entire board into a supermarket plastic bag (endless supply of those!).  they label the bag with masking tape and put it away on shelves.  Less accidents or damage to projects during storage and transit, projects have needed space "to breathe".
      Instead of wrapping with paper towels, get some large pieces of cut jersey fabric.  It rinses well and retains water longer (like a long holiday weekend!)  At the end of each quarter I rinse them out and wash them to keep them fresh, until they wear out.  During the projects everyone has their own to use and their is no fighting or waiting in line for paper towels.  Also, less trees falling in the forest!
      With ceramics, the key has been the routines.  I agree with the clean-up tips already given, I have routines for everything.  Before the end of the first project, they work independently- they come in, get out their project, get their clay and tools, and start working.  I circulate from student to student and help and/or redemonstrate the technique, help with a 'collapse crisis', comment on technique, make suggestions, etc.
      Washing tables down is critical.  The clay dries and the airborne dust gets everywhere.  Clean-up is the responsibility of the entire table, and they must be seated at a cleaned table as a group to be dismissed.  Early in the quarter I offer prizes for which table cleans up first and this gets them in good habits.  After a while they don't need the prizes.  Also, keep hand cream on hand and encourage them to use it.  Clay robs moisture from your hands and repeated hand washing, particularly in winter, is brutal.  pick a neutral scent and you'll see the boys use it too!
      Once the projects are complete we put them on display right away so their is no storage of finished projects in the classroom.  projects they don't want, which are few, are culled for the "permanent collection" -- I do a school wide display for the first day of school.
      Hope this all helps.  let me know if you have any other questions.
      Liz Egan
      Westbrook Middle School, CT

      helpertouch <wilsonc@...> wrote:
      I received a kiln and have space--now unused from an industrial-arts
      area not inuse--to do ceramics. I just have never done them and need
      some help setting up the program.

      1. What is the easiest way to handle canvas--stapling or putting it
      away each time?
      2. What do you do with scraps of clay cut off projects?
      3. What is best for a drying area?
      4. Are there any other concerns I don't know about?

      I really appreciate your help--feeling floundering here.

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