Thursday, December 17, 2015

Creating Fun Packaging for our Ceramic Projects!

I love a beautiful package, so I love to teaching my students to take pride in their gift giving.  Every year I do clay before the holiday's so students can have a gift to give their family.  While most my students are Christian, I have several students who are Jewish, Hindu and Muslim.  The tradition in my school district is to create "Christmas gifts" for students to take home.  I prefer to teach clay projects that allow students to chose to have a Christmas theme, a winter theme or an all year round theme.  This lets students have some creative freedom and not feel trapped in a Christian holiday. I imagine it has to be overwhelming this time of year if you are not celebrating Christmas.  I remember talking to one of my Hindu students years ago.  She was saying how she "loved to drive around and see all the lights and Christmas trees in the windows".  She wondered "how it might be to wake up to Santa on Christmas morning". Here she was, feeling outside and wondering about Santa!  So I direct my gift giving the same way.  The gift might be a holiday gift or a winter gift.  I provide materials for Christmas and Non-Christmas.  Here are some great packages....

I order the bags from Paper Mart.  I buy in bulk, it is more affordable.  I do the Square 1 Art fundraiser every year.  I use about $150 in bags.  It is worth it to me, the ceramics gets home safely!  Much less breakage!  I buy the gift wrap from Hobby Lobby.  It is the best paper!  Very thick and lined on the back.  Perfect for chopping up and using to decorate.  I find plenty of red and green but make sure there are some other colors as well.   I cut 8" wide strips and then chop it up in 1"pieces. I leave a whole box full at each table. The kids love it!  They could create for hours!!! 

My students feel great leaving with a work of art as a gift and a bag that has been created special for the person they are giving it to.  A great way to end first semester!

 I cut 8" wide strips and then chop it up in 1"pieces. I leave a whole box full at each table.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Our Ceramic Pieces are DONE!

When you teach 585+ students every four days, you find strategies to do things quick & easy, yet keeping the creative integrity. When I teach ceramics, I usually finish the clay with acrylic paint.  Glaze would be nice, but it is expensive and a lot more work for me.  So... about 15 years ago, I started dipping my clay pieces in a mixture of white semi-gloss latex paint, (yes... wall paint) and water.  About a 50/50 mix.  This mixture does two things... brightens the clay to a bright white and primes the clay with a base coat making the clay very easy to paint for k-5th graders.  Young kids have a hard time covering clay with paint when it is not dipped, the clay absorbs the moisture so fast, they have a hard time moving the paint around.  Then you are left with unpainted spots and a very unfinished/low quality finished product.  Not if you dip and prime it first! The paint flows like the kids expect it to.  Results???? Beautiful!!! This is what my process looks like....

I cover the table with a canvas painter's cloth, mix my first batch in a gallon bucket, put on the big green rubber gloves and start dipping! I try to dip everything the day or morning before it is going to be painted.  It is nice to give it time to dry. Once I dip a class, I start lifting them off the canvas, making sure they are not sticking. If you do it once, they release fairly easily. If you forget, you are pulling them off a bit harder, but everything does release. Then, I re-stack them back in the boxes once dry.  Now they are ready for paint!

For painting clay, I use semi-gloss latex in colors.  I get a pint mixed every couple years, it is very affordable! I add water and mix until it is smooth, not sticky.  I use my oldest brushes, NEVER my good tempera brushes.  Also... I do check to see if any students have latex allergies. I keep non-latex gloves for them.  In 15 years, only 2 students and no issues. When students are finished, they wash their hands with the green scrubby pads for pots and pans.  They take off all the acrylic!

I cover the cups with plexiglass and often throw a towel over the top too.  

Here is how it looked this year...

Kindergarten Ornaments

First Grade Owls

Second Grade Luminaries

Third Grade Drape Bowls with Texture

Fourth Grade Slump Plates with Cookie Cutter Decorations

Fifth Grade Slump Soap Dishes with Stamp and Texture Patterns

I did glaze these this year.  Some special kidos in this grade level, I wanted to do something special for them!