Our sixth grade finished the slab clay fish project. Although I provided a choice of just three templates, students were able to customize them through re-shaping, texture, and glaze. We ended up with a wide variety of fish.
These three rainbow fish started from the same template. Artists scratched lines into the wet clay to make stripes. Later they painted these defined areas. Students who did this technique ended up with neatly glazed fish. Caution: avoid scratching a line across the narrowest part of the tail – it will be more likely to break.
Want to make a rainbow fish? Make shallow lines in wet clay with a skewer. Glaze fired clay – try to stay inside the lines!
Here is a different rainbow fish. The artist used a different template, then created texture with tiny balls of clay and the eraser tip of pencil. The fish is trimmed with a thin clay coil, which the artist later glazed shiny black.
NICE WORK SIXTH GRADERS!!!
I wrote how to roll and cut the fish here and here. More glazing examples here. More examples next week!
Sixth grade just finished the clay fish project. The students had open use of my glazes – some chose to do an ‘Action Jackson’ Pollock-inspired pollock. The fish were base coated with a solid coat of underglaze, then splattered with a variety of underglazes. No clear top coat necessary.
This technique worked best on untextured clay.
The entire project took three class periods. You can read about the entire clay fish process here and here.
Match the glaze color to your table color if possible
Put brushes directly into the glaze (genius!!!)
Keep a piece of paper under your pot at all times – even when switching tables. This keeps your hands cleaner.
Carry pot from table to table to change colors
Brushes stay at their tables
In addition to the brushes, I put skewers directly into the glaze bottles. The students used the skewers to dot eyes or spots onto their animal pots. Skewers allow more control than my brushes. I have also used the skewers to scratch lines into the glaze.
Easy set up – no water! No little cups of glaze.
Easy clean up – wipe the glaze bottle rims and recap.
No color contamination (note – I was anxious and kept a sharp eye on the white glaze. It stayed clean through three classes!)
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.
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!
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.
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.