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Re: clay and grading

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  • priorhouse
    Hi. Congrats on the new baby. I think you are right on with making sure they get some experience with glazing (or at least see how it is done), but be
    Message 1 of 9 , Oct 4, 2010
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      Hi. Congrats on the new baby.
      I think you are right on with making sure they get some experience with glazing (or at least "see" how it is done), but be careful before you spend too much $ (especially if it is out of pocket). Maybe the class can do a shared project for the glazing part and their grade can be centered around that. We once used some backup tiles that everyone added a design to and then we gave the finished piece to an administrator as a gift. And don't worry about what the other students feel – sometimes we all just have to roll with the mistakes and accidents that come our way. We make the best of situations. It may seem unfair, but it is just life! – It is just adapting to things and sometimes that is just how things have to be.

      I would use this experience as a chance to show students how often times things can go wrong (especially with clay). A few of your students may end up teaching art when they are older –and many of them will take various enrichment clay classes and well, this flop can sometimes sculpt and become even more a teaching lesson. They can learn things about problem solving, about a teacher showing grace to a well-meaning substitute teacher, about sensitive clay dynamics and other things that are not part of the usual plan – but things that may give them more of a real life working knowledge. Students love extra details – and become quite proud of knowing misc. extras - like what causes clay pieces to start crumbling, what causes pieces to explode in a kiln – and other basic details of working with clay. If not done in a put down manner or presented as a "flop" - this experience can be a positive teaching opportunity.

      Don't forget to remind the kids about process – and don't forget the value of it yourself. The take home pieces are not always a long term keepsake. Did they get to work with clay? Yes. Did they get their hands working with the medium, following a plan and squishing that stuff between their fingers? Yes. And if they get to do the glazing part that would be great too, but so much has been enjoyed already. When I remind students about the need for and developmental value of "process"- especially with art, well they not only become more aware of their own learning, but they begin to see more about the value of things expressed in different ways. Yes, the final product matters, but it is not the only part – not at all. I even had a few over achievers (uptight kids) relax and de-stress a bit when I reminded them that process was the important part of lessons. Whew, even young students seemed to take a deep breathe and enjoy things more with this in mind.

      HTH,
      Mrs. Prior in VA

      >>< many of them fell apart and a few exploded in the kiln. 
      >>What should I do?  I thought about buying some bisqueware at a local ceramics store and just having them glaze so they get the experience, but not sure how the other students would feel about that.
      > Any advice?
      > Thanks,
      > Kelli in NE
      >
    • Varney-Parker, Diane
      Hello! I have had this happen many times (and have since bought a different brand of clay do to air bubbles), but I pursue it like an ³archeological dig²
      Message 2 of 9 , Oct 4, 2010
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        Re: [art_education] clay and grading Hello!
        I have had this happen many times (and have since bought a different brand of clay do to air bubbles), but I pursue it like an “archeological dig” where students need to find as many pieces of their project as possible.  Sometimes these pieces can be glued together dried and then painted with acrylic paints for a nice finished look.  Other times if pieces are lost, too broken etc. we rebuild those parts with modeling clay which we often need to glue to the clay, but just keep molding and pressing and it works!  We then cover the modeling clay with plaster let it dry, harden and finally paint with acrylics.  It’s actually amazing how many students are happy with their finished product.  It’s great because they get to try different materials, problem solve, etc.!  We’ve had good results.  I wish you luck!

        -Diane  


        On 10/3/10 8:48 PM, "Kelli Wilke" <kdenne14@...> wrote:


         
         
           

        Hello everyone,
        I am in a bind.  My long term sub (I've been on maternity leave) made clay rattles with my 5th graders.  She had experience with clay so I wasn't worried.  However, many of them fell apart and a few exploded in the kiln.  My question is....we are starting to glaze on Tuesday and not only will they have nothing to glaze, they don't have anything to grade.  What do you do in this situation?  They don't have time to make another one before the end of the quarter.  What should I do?  I thought about buying some bisqueware at a local ceramics store and just having them glaze so they get the experience, but not sure how the other students would feel about that.
        Any advice?
        Thanks,
        Kelli in NE

         
         
           



      • Byrd1956
        Kelli, I agree in Mrs. Prior. If you don t have any tiles, got to Home Depot or Lowes and get some small 3x3 or 5x5 tiles. Sometimes you can find unglazed
        Message 3 of 9 , Oct 4, 2010
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          Kelli,
          I agree in Mrs. Prior. If you don't have any tiles, got to Home Depot or Lowes and get some small 3x3 or 5x5 tiles. Sometimes you can find unglazed tiles, but if you get white tiles the glaze will act and look like a majoloica glaze. Then they would all have something to paint. Or maybe one bigger tile and everyone w/out a shaker paints on it and it becomes a gift for their teacher or principal.
        • Wanda
          I bet we have all experienced explosions in the kiln. [:(] It would be nice it you could locate some small gourds that have the seeds in them, they could
          Message 4 of 9 , Oct 4, 2010
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            I  bet we have all experienced explosions in the kiln.:( It would be nice it you could locate some small gourds that  have the seeds in them, they could paint them and still have the rattle. Check with your local farmers market they might know where you can find gourds. I always make extra small samples when showing the classes how to form and build with the clay. I use them for students who lose theirs in the kiln or some other unfortunate accident. I also always have students absent during the building time so I make one for them too. They at least get the experience glazing that way. Wanda
            --- In art_education@yahoogroups.com, "priorhouse" <priorhouse@...> wrote:
            >
            >
            > Hi. Congrats on the new baby.
            > I think you are right on with making sure they get some experience with glazing (or at least "see" how it is done), but be careful before you spend too much $ (especially if it is out of pocket). Maybe the class can do a shared project for the glazing part and their grade can be centered around that. We once used some backup tiles that everyone added a design to and then we gave the finished piece to an administrator as a gift. And don't worry about what the other students feel – sometimes we all just have to roll with the mistakes and accidents that come our way. We make the best of situations. It may seem unfair, but it is just life! – It is just adapting to things and sometimes that is just how things have to be.
            >
            > I would use this experience as a chance to show students how often times things can go wrong (especially with clay). A few of your students may end up teaching art when they are older –and many of them will take various enrichment clay classes and well, this flop can sometimes sculpt and become even more a teaching lesson. They can learn things about problem solving, about a teacher showing grace to a well-meaning substitute teacher, about sensitive clay dynamics and other things that are not part of the usual plan – but things that may give them more of a real life working knowledge. Students love extra details – and become quite proud of knowing misc. extras - like what causes clay pieces to start crumbling, what causes pieces to explode in a kiln – and other basic details of working with clay. If not done in a put down manner or presented as a "flop" - this experience can be a positive teaching opportunity.
            >
            > Don't forget to remind the kids about process – and don't forget the value of it yourself. The take home pieces are not always a long term keepsake. Did they get to work with clay? Yes. Did they get their hands working with the medium, following a plan and squishing that stuff between their fingers? Yes. And if they get to do the glazing part that would be great too, but so much has been enjoyed already. When I remind students about the need for and developmental value of "process"- especially with art, well they not only become more aware of their own learning, but they begin to see more about the value of things expressed in different ways. Yes, the final product matters, but it is not the only part – not at all. I even had a few over achievers (uptight kids) relax and de-stress a bit when I reminded them that process was the important part of lessons. Whew, even young students seemed to take a deep breathe and enjoy things more with this in mind.
            >
            > HTH,
            > Mrs. Prior in VA
            >
            > >>< many of them fell apart and a few exploded in the kiln. 
            > >>What should I do?  I thought about buying some bisqueware at a local ceramics store and just having them glaze so they get the experience, but not sure how the other students would feel about that.
            > > Any advice?
            > > Thanks,
            > > Kelli in NE
            > >
            >
          • Gayle Parent
            In recent years I have heard from several sources that most projects that blow up in the kiln do so because there is moisture still in the clay, more than
            Message 5 of 9 , Oct 5, 2010
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              In recent years I have heard from several sources that most projects that "blow up" in the kiln do so because there is moisture still in the clay, more than due to air bubbles. Anyone agree or disagree? I have several years of experience with clay, but I'm not a clay specialist. Could we hear from some high school ceramics teachers?
              Gayle
            • artsypffartsy
              I majored in ceramics. If a piece shatters into tiny fragments, it was still damp inside. If a big chunk blows out, it was either too thick (over an inch) or
              Message 6 of 9 , Oct 6, 2010
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                I majored in ceramics. If a piece shatters into tiny fragments, it was still damp inside. If a big chunk blows out, it was either too thick (over an inch) or from the child placing a wad of clay over an indented surface to smooth it out. You can usually see the air bubble in the blown out pieces if that was the problem. Children need to be taught how not to add air pockets to their clay while they are working it. Kids are kids. Some will poke a finger into their clay and then just cover it up any old way. I tell my students that if they have a dent in their clay, they should smooth it out so that a smooth clay coil or smooth ball of clay could be pressed onto the dent to fill the void. Another thing I show them is how to use a serrated metal rib to "plow the field" or level out uneven surfaces if they want a smooth surface. What I mean by that is, use a serrated metal rib to comb over the clay with enough hand pressure to level off all of the highs and lows on the surface of the clay. Then turn the rib around in your hand and use the smooth side of it and run it over the leveled off toothy texture from the comb. This will get everything leveled off again and smooth in a way that little fingers just can't do by themselves at times. I tell kids to add texture AFTER they are finished forming their clay features so they don't smooth it off in the wrong way.

                I also teach my students how to build a hollow form that won't explode beginning at 3rd grade level. We build a body of an animal with pinch pots joined together with slip and a smoothed in coil, and then add on a neck with coils. An air hole is poked into the place where the hollow neck joins the hollow body, and also under the body allowing the neck air out through the bottom of the body. The legs and head are formed from modeled solid clay, pinching out rough shapes, adding on muzzles starting with a ball of clay on the front of the face, smoothed into the face. Kids love to see how easy it is to make that anchor shaped muzzles/mouths (dog, rabbit,lion, cat, etc) from four little balls of clay that get rubbed into the face on the outer edges of the balls placed together. The lines in the middle where the balls touch are left alone to form that anchor shaped mouth after the outer edges of the balls are smoothed into the cheek, chin, and upper part of the muzzle. Picture a little ball for the nose, two slightly or greatly larger (depends on the animal) balls for the animals cheeks, and a little ball for the chin. Place those four balls at the front of the face, touching each other, where you want the muzzle to be. Then rub the outside edges into the face smoothly. What you are left with after rubbing in the outer edges is a muzzle with an anchor shaped mouth. Kids love the ease of making something so complicated looking in such a simple way. I also teach them to make little balls for eyes, and then a small coil over the edge of the ball to make an eyelid. Rub the outer edge or that coil into the forehead or face, and you have a sculpted eye. The only trick is to make the other eye match it in size and placement...another story.

                Anyway, our kids are well versed in sculpture by the end of 5th grade. The blowups we have in the kiln are either my fault if I am rushing the firing (I'm very careful), or their fault if a big chunk blows out of the bottom. It might have been too thick to dry all the way through in that spot, or it might have had an air pocket because the kid just slapped the clay onto a rough surface. I tell my kids that all shaping is done from the outside without poking holes into the clay and covering them up.

                When I dry their pieces, I give them one day to just sit on the shelf with a light plastic with holes in it thrown loosely over them. The next morning, I take off the plastic and start a gentle fan in the room. BY afternoon, the fan is directly on the pieces. The next day I can USUALLY put them in the kiln if they no longer feel cool and damp and aren't too thick. I preheat my kiln at 150 degrees for 3 hours. That is below boiling temperature, so they won't blow up at that gentle heat. After that, they go at slow speed for the rest of the firing at climbing temperatures. I rarely have blowups that way. But I don't put a fan on them the first day. That can cause cracks in parts of their clay that are uneven in thickness. Little handles will pop off if you fan dry them too soon, for example.

                I had to change clay bodies one time in my life. I was using a lot of underglazes in my own work, and for some reason, some change they made to the clay body, those underglazes were just flaking off the rim of a pot, a few times, from ANYWHERE on the pot. I multi fired the pieces, added layers of different things, had been doing that for a long time. INTENSE labor in glazing. The problem never showed up until the final firings when I put the clear glaze coat on top of all of that work. It was VERY disappointing, and since I had used this clay body for so long in the same way with my underglazes, it was very disheartening. The seller of the clay and I decided it was something to do with too much talc in the white lowfire clay body, that the makers had changed their formula somewhat. Perhaps due to a shortage of something they usually used in their formula, who knows. Clay makers have machinery that compresses the air out of their clay. It's usually not their fault if the piece has air bubbles. Kids probably did it inadvertently in their construction, or you might have fired it too soon.

                HOpe this helps,
                Linda

                --- In art_education@yahoogroups.com, Gayle Parent <gayleparent@...> wrote:
                >
                > In recent years I have heard from several sources that most projects that "blow up" in the kiln do so because there is moisture still in the clay, more than due to air bubbles. Anyone agree or disagree? I have several years of experience with clay, but I'm not a clay specialist. Could we hear from some high school ceramics teachers?
                > Gayle
                >
              • Varney-Parker, Diane
                Clay will definitely ³blow up² if there¹s still moisture present. Projects should be ³bone dry² before being put in a kiln. The kiln also needs to be on
                Message 7 of 9 , Oct 6, 2010
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                  Re: [art_education] Re:clay and grading Clay will definitely “blow up” if there’s still moisture present.  Projects should be “bone dry” before being put in a kiln.  The kiln also needs to be on the proper setting.  If it heats up too quickly pieces can “blow up”. So it should be on a low setting.  Finally clay that is too thick or has air pockets is also prone to “blowing up” in the kiln.  At our school we have had several explosions even with plenty of drying time (3 days to a week even).  We have since switched to Laguna white clay and have had no problems.  

                  -Diane


                  On 10/5/10 9:48 PM, "Gayle Parent" <gayleparent@...> wrote:


                   
                   
                     

                  In recent years I have heard from several sources that most projects that "blow up" in the kiln do so because there is moisture still in the clay, more than due to air bubbles.  Anyone agree or disagree?  I have several years of experience with clay, but I'm not a clay specialist.  Could we hear from some high school ceramics teachers?
                  Gayle
                   
                     



                • pent19
                  I have to agree, a child would have to be working pretty thick and lack technical skills to create an air bubble (i teach my students about wedging and working
                  Message 8 of 9 , Oct 6, 2010
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                    I have to agree, a child would have to be working pretty thick and lack technical skills to create an air bubble (i teach my students about wedging and working thin to prevent this.) and that most blowups are due to rushing them to the bisque fire and not letting them dry thoroughly. you can tell how dry a piece is 1-its not the same color, dark grey and light grey areas. 2-wet clay is colder than dry clay. I encourage my students to work thin-to conserve clay and reduce blowups, i may have one or two pieces a year that this happens to(not bad for 475 students!)
                    hope this helps!
                    michele

                    --- In art_education@yahoogroups.com, Gayle Parent <gayleparent@...> wrote:
                    >
                    > In recent years I have heard from several sources that most projects that "blow up" in the kiln do so because there is moisture still in the clay, more than due to air bubbles. Anyone agree or disagree? I have several years of experience with clay, but I'm not a clay specialist. Could we hear from some high school ceramics teachers?
                    > Gayle
                    >
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