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Thursday, January 16, 2020

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Clay Tools

Clay Tools



Believe it or not, your finger is one of your best clay tools. 
It's great for pinching, poking, pulling and smoothing the clay.



Preschoolers

Here are some good tools for little hands when exploring and creating with play doughs.


1. Spatula for cutting and scraping clay off surfaces
2. Blunt scissors to cut the clay
3. Roulette for making wiggly lines into the clay
4. Rolling pin for flatting clay
5. Standard set of sculpting tools made of plastic for making marks

Beginners

Here are the simplest tools that I recommend for beginners working with clay.


Most of these you probably have in your home already.
They are all you need to help you get started working with clay.

1. Popsicle stick -for cutting and poking
2. Tongue depressor -for making notches
3. Pointed dowel -for drawing
4. Plastic knife -for cutting
5. Plastic fork -for making line patterns
6. Tooth brush -for scoring clay
7. Kitchen sponge -for smoothing clay
8. Plastic dish- for water


Advanced

If you want to step it up a notch, try these.



1. Scratch-Art tool - has a small needle on the end to draw thin lines. Available at: https://www.dickblick.com
2. Kemper Potters Needle - used to score and cut the clay. Available at: https://www.baileypottery.com
3. Drawing tool - one excellent tip for drawing lines and the other tip for smoothing clay. Available at:https://activaproducts.com
4. Felting Knife - used for cutting clay. Available at: https://www.baileypottery.com
5. Box Wood tool - used for creating lines - great for making a furry texture on animals. Available at: https://www.baileypottery.com
6. Metal fork - used for making line patterns.
7. Scratch Wire Brush - used for making scoring lines when joining clay pieces together. Available at: https://www.baileypottery.com
8. Flat brush - used for applying slip.
9. Paint cup - used for holding water. This type is great because it comes a with brush/tool holder lip.
10. Natural sponge - has a great shape and holds up longer than a synthetic sponge. 


Rolling pins are great for flattening clay. They come in different widths and lengths. Most are made out of wood because the clay doesn't stick to the surface. The ones with the ball bearings in the handle (1) are the easiest to roll back and forth with. Extra large rolling pins purchased from a ceramic supplier work well when flatting large slabs of clay for big projects for art students. Smaller sized rolling pins (3) work best for children's little hands. You can make your own by just using a wooden dowel (2). 


To help make slabs evenly rolled or a certain thickness you can use dowels (1) of various dimensions on either side of your clay. The dowels will keep the clay from thinning out too much. Available at: your local hardware store. You can also purchase a leveled clay roller kit (2) like this one at: https://activaproducts.com


Slab rollers make rolling out clay a cinch, but are super expensive. Mostly art teachers and ceramic potters own them. 
Rolling pins are even available in different textures.
These are Texture Wheels.






Cotton Duck cloth - used as a messy mat and to keep clay from sticking to the table top surface. It can be stretched onto a board to make moving around clay projects easier. Available at: Walmart and JoAnn's in the fabric section.

Here are some great add on tools to have in your tool box.


1. Roulette tool - used to roll wavy lines into the clay. Available at: https://www.hobbylobby.com
2. Loop tool - used to carve out clay. One with a flat and round end gives you more options. Available at: https://www.baileypottery.com
3. Fondant tools - these have some unusual tips and make great impressions. Available at: https://www.hobbylobby.com
4. Cleaning tool - used for scraping bone dry clay pieces. Good for cleaning up edges.
5. Hole cutter - used for carving out holes in clay. These come in various dimensions. Available at: https://www.baileypottery.com
6. Ball Stylus - used for pushing in round holes into the clay and shaping forms. Available at: https://www.baileypottery.com

This a great Potter's Starter Kit and is reasonably priced. I bought mine in college and I still have it 30 years later! Available at: https://www.baileypottery.com
These are Scoring Tools and they all work great! It all comes down to a matter of preference on which one to use.


1. Scratch Wire Brush   
2. Scratch-Art tool   
3. Scoring Tool available at: https://www.theceramicshop.com
4. Steel Scraper Ovoid available at: https://www.baileypottery.com

I LOVE these sponges! They are shaped like a traditional Kidney tool and fit in your hand great. They come in different absorbencies which makes them nice for smoothing surfaces. 

Cookie cutters make great tools when you are trying to cut out uniform shapes. 


You can make a simple circle cutter by using a can. 


A clay slicer makes dividing clay into slabs super easy. 


Found objects make great tools too!


                                    
                                So just look around your house for interesting stuff.                                 You never know what could make a great clay tool.




Saturday, December 21, 2019

Children's Developmental Stages Using Clay

Why do kids love clay so much?


The most loved art supply by children is clay. It is the perfect tactile and moldable material for little hands to manipulate. Working with clay can be very calm and relaxing. Manipulating clay can help relieve stress. Having the freedom to explore and discover on your own is very freeing. To a child clay is magical. They love to squeeze it, poke it, pound it and shape it. Combine it with a child's imagination and its possibilities are endless. They are naturally fascinated by it and will create with it for long periods without help from an adult. They often get into the flow state without even realizing time has past so quickly. Playing with clay has many great benefits for children of all ages. 

Here are some of children’s favorite things to create with clay. 

The Pizza Pie

One of the number one things kids love to shape out of clay is a pizza pie. With pepperoni of course. So many kids are familiar with playing with their food, so making it out of clay comes naturally to them. Pounding clay flat is so much fun! Once flat it is easy to imagine it as a pancake or a pizza. They even like to pretend they are eating it. 

 

Snakes

Making a coil out of clay naturally looks like a wiggly worm or a snake to a child. Of course it's a child's favorite - snakes are cool!



Volcanos

Boys especially loves making these erupting things.




Pinch Pots

Making food and the containers to put it in comes naturally to a child. Clay can be easily shaped into a bowl or drinking cup.





Children's Developmental Stages Using Clay

Exploration Stage

early childhood

This stage is characterized by the pure sensory experience of the modeling material. Children will pat it, pound it, squish it, poke it, pinch it, and play with it. They will make no attempt to make the clay or play dough into something. They just enjoy partaking in the sheer pleasure of exploring it with their senses and manipulating it.


Control Stage

age 4-6   kindergarten

At this stage, children use their fingers and palms to make basic forms with the clay like a ball, pancake or worm. Their fine motor skills are beginning to take shape and they can start to control the clay or dough.
   



Named Forms Stage

age 6-7   grades k-1

During this stage children give names and labels to modeled forms. They engage in narrative play with their products and use them like toys. Playing with clay engages the child's imagination and lends itself to the benefits of the creative process naturally. Clay is the perfect creative material because it can be reinvented over and over again by a child's imagination. 


Symbolic Forms Stage

age 6-9   grades 1-3

After repeated experiences working with clay, children can now plan the forms that they want to make. They can use their fingers to join pieces together, add details, pull forms out of a larger piece of clay and use clay tools. Their finished products will be recognizable by others. They start modeling people, animals and food. 




Providing children with repeated experiences working with clay, helps children to develop skills towards mastery. Children can then use clay as a medium to express their own ideas and life experiences through art making. Skill development requires children do similar activities over and over. 


Written by: Art Teacher Ruth Post

Saturday, November 30, 2019

Air Dry Clays

What are the best air dry clays to use?

You're in luck! I've worked with just about them all and here are my test results...

Terra-cotta Clay Bodies



Amaco- Excellent plasticity but a bit sticky. The surface quality is gritty and dries with an uneven skin layer. Its finished durability is brittle and breaks easily. Even though I was careful to score and slip my pieces properly, I still had pieces just fall off when they dried. So frustrating- $ moderately priced

Activa - Great plasticity. The iron oxide in the clay body stains your hands a bit. Dries evenly to a beautiful terra-cotta rock color. It's very strong and durable. You could bang it on a table top and cause no damageBy far my favorite terra-cotta air dry clay! 
- $ moderately priced
Crayola - Good plasticity. The surface quality is smooth but dries unevenly in color. Strong but one drop and it breaks easily. Still comes in a close second to my favorite. 
- $ economically priced


White Air Dry Clay Bodies


Crayola - Good plasticity. Dries to a bright white. Can be easily painted with water color, tempera and acrylic paints. Strong, but one drop and it breaks easily. I really like to use this brand because it's easy for kids to use. 
$ economically priced
Laguna Dry Hard - Excellent plasticity. Dries with a gritty skin. Hard, but parts fall off easily even if you score and slip them on properly. 

Laguna Mexo - Too soft plasticity, very sticky. I didn't like working with it at all! Dries with a gritty skin. Hard, but breaks easily. Some pieces just fell off after they air dried.
$ moderately priced

Activa'  - Excellent plasticity. Dries very strong. Takes paint/stains well. My favorite!
$moderately priced
Here's a set of test tiles that I finished in a variety of ways:



Amaco - Great plasticity but sticky. Chemical smell. Dries hard, but has a chalky feel. 
$ moderately priced


Black Air Dry Clay Bodies


Crayola - good plasticity. Dries strong but to an uneven off black color.
$ expensively priced since it is only available in a multi-colored pack
Activa' - excellent plasticity. Dries evenly to a smooth finish and is very strong.
$ moderately priced 


Written by: Art Teacher Ruth Post