Melted Marble Pinch Pots

 

This is it!  The most beloved clay project of all. Second graders use clay, glaze and marbles to make glittering animal pinch pots. They visit a kiln and load it themselves. If you are looking for a truly memorable clay project, try this.

Day 1: Make an Animal Pinch Pot

Second graders use clay to make a pinch pot, then use the ‘scratch attach’ (score and slip) method to add head, legs, tail, etc. I let students make any animal they want, real, imaginary or extinct.

I let the clay dry and then bisque fire it.

Day 2: Glaze Day

On glaze day, students paint their pots inside and out with many colors.

Glaze in 2 oz. ‘salsa cups’. I use one color per table and let students switch tables.

I put out one glaze color and several brushes on each of my tables. Students switch tables to get different colors. The brushes stay at the table and don’t travel (so I don’t need water on the tables). I use 2 oz. plastic portion cups and  lids (also available at Costco) for my glazes. At the end of class I spray the leftover glaze cups with a little water and cap them.

Day 3: Marbles and The Kiln Field Trip!!!

Oh boy! The kids come up to the marble tray and pick two marbles for their pots. There is much deliberation….which to pick? I tell them the marbles don’t have to match, and no matter which they pick, they will be very surprised at the result.

pots filled with marbles ready to fireSecond graders load their own pots into the kiln.

I tell the students we are going to the school kiln – a super-hot oven we use to fire their clay. We then load up the pots on my cart and walk as a group to our kiln (how fortunate we are to have a kiln on site!).  I always have a parent (or 6th grade) volunteer help with this step.

Each student puts his or her own pot into the kiln.

Ready for the second firing!

(Note: I use low-fire clay and underglazes. I fire the glazed clay/marbles to cone 06).

Day 4: Return the Pots

I pass back the fired pinch pots. Wow!

Finished melted marble pinch pots

Students are amazed at the melted marbles. Kids describe them as ‘pools of glass’ or ‘pools of ice’. We have to see them all! So we take a ‘museum tour’ and examine ALL the pots.

Tips:

  • skip the marbles and use  glass gems for flower arranging or  glass gems for aquariums, You will get a better range of colors.
  • You don’t have to pay a lot of money for marbles. Marbles are available at my local dollar store and in the toy section of my local drug store.
  • Caution: do not use this method on coil pots!  You do not want molten glass leaking out of the pot onto your kiln shelf.

Kids love this project!  I had some 7th graders visit the art room recently – they immediately smiled when they heard we were doing this project again.  They said it was their favorite and that they still have their pots.

I learned about this method (years ago!) through one of the art education list serves (I can’t remember if it was The Incredible Art Department or the Getty Museum Teacher Art Exchange).

 

Good luck!  If you end up trying this project and post it in your blog, please link back to this post. 🙂

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8 thoughts on “Melted Marble Pinch Pots

  1. Soooo cool! I’ve always wanted to try out this method but it seems so scary (to me at least- lol) to put marbles in the kiln! Thanks for giving such detailed steps and tips. I like how you distribute your glaze- I’ve never been able to find those lidded containers at my Costco 🙁
    They look like they would be SO handy for so many different things in the Art Room.
    Miss recently posted..Rhythm & Movement FiguresMy Profile

    • Hi Miss

      I was pretty scared the first time I put mine in the kiln. But I’ve done the project for 7 years and it always works for already bisque fired pots at cone 06 (be sure there are no pinholes in the pots).

      You can get similar cups at Amazon but they cost much more. They are also at our local Smart & Final, but I don’t know if you have those up in B.C. They are not airtight, so I have to spray a little water on them and re-stir the next time I pass them out.

      Rina

  2. Hi Rina,
    I love this idea! I have a question: it looks like you don’t apply a glaze. is your underglaze a combo glaze/underglaze? Usually I will bisque fire then the children will paint with underglaze and then after it dries (a couple of minutes later) we will dip into a dipping glaze. Would you rccommend adding the marble on top of the glaze?

    • Hi Patty

      Definitely add a couple of marbles on top of whatever glaze or underglaze you choose.

      The photos show bisque fired clay painted with underglaze (most are Duncan). I ask the students to use three coats for each color they choose. I didn’t use dipping glaze or the paint-on clear glaze. If the students paint three coats it is sufficiently shiny (but certainly not as shiny as it would be with a top coat).

      In years past I have done this project with glaze + marbles and it worked just fine.

      Good luck! Your students are going to LOVE this project and treasure their pots for years.

        • Good luck! It is absolutely magical when the kids touch the smooth melted marbles for the first time.

          One last thing – if you open the kiln while it is ‘safe’ but still cooling (say 180F), don’t be surprised if you hear a tinkling noise coming from each pot! It will not hurt finished product.

  3. Hey Rina,

    Do you think I could try this on greenware or would you only recommend it on bisque fired clay with a glaze? I don’t have glaze available this year so I wanted to try this marble method to jazz up my student’s work. Thoughts?

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