Saturday, January 24, 2015

Clay Owls in the Making and Thoughts on Craftsmanship

2014-2015 marks my 4th year teaching full-time elementary art! Now that my curriculum feels pretty established, kids remember certain projects displayed by older students and look forward to making insects on leaves, Laurel Burch-inspired cats, and clay owls.

Clay owls created by making a pinch pot body and scratching-and-attaching
slabs of clay for the wings, eyes, and beak.
The initial inspiration for this project came from seeing a 4th grade example on the One Crayola Short blog. I decided to adapt this project to do with my 1st graders because it fit so well with the foundational clay curriculum: 

  • Pre-K learns how to make pinch pots
  • Kindergarten's clay project focuses on coils, learning how to scratch-and-attach, and add texture, 
  • and this 1st grade owl project incorporates pinch pots, slabs, scratch-and-attach, and texture. 

One class finished building their owls this week and they turned out so well! One of the main differences this year is that I taught the kids how to smooth their clay with a small natural sponge before adding texture. In previous years I did not make a big deal about craftsmanship with this project, and instead focused on successful clay hand-building techniques. I felt that the project itself was appropriately challenging and I did not want to contradict our classroom motto, "There are No Mistakes in Art!" Luckily, the kids did not balk at the idea of spending time practicing good, clay craftsmanship skills. The difference in outcome is remarkable and the kids are all really proud of their work! You won't know until you try, right? 

This change left me wondering...
How do you approach craftsmanship with your Littles? How do you think process affects product? Leave a Google+ comment or send me a direct message on the lower right side of the page!