Tuesday, September 2, 2014

A little fun with some old back to school ideas

Pinch pot demonstration

Over the years, I have had to develop  small projects for introductions to clay, fun optional project and Marking Period exams, or projects, and then later what our district called Benchmarks. The idea behind any of these was to test the knowledge and skills that the student had acquired during the marking period.
I usually would start the marking period out with simple introductory project like a pinch pot followed a slab construction project that would allow me to present surface decoration along with joining techniques. Occasionally I would do a short simple project with slabs that would be a one or two day introduction that was kind of fun. One such project was the "Poison Goblet", so ugly or strange it looks like a film prop for the step mothers alter ego in Sleeping Beauty.
Poison Goblet-Decorated flat slab formed nearly cheese hard

I had 4 categories of decoration
  • incising-any cut mark in the clay
  • impression-any stamped or impressed mark in the clay
  • piercing-any cut or impressed mark that went through the clay wall
  • sprigging or added on clay
We started with the use of rolling pins and slab sticks to create slabs, and cutting slabs using sticks and cutting wire. I also taught the safe use of the slab roller, as we had an Amaco cable driven one in the classroom. First projects were required to have one slab(first slab) rolled out by hand. I explained to them that I would be remiss in teaching them if they could not create slabs without the machine as many studios did not have slab rollers.

I taught beveling slabs, explaining that the join was better than butting slabs together. I demonstrated and required the use of a fettling knife. By setting the slab onto the table at the edge and holding it down with one hand, placing the fettling knife on the table at 45 degrees drawing the fettling knife through the slab using the table edge as a guide. Once we had done a few slabs in this manner, I brought out the bevel tools that had been hidden away, demonstrating their use.Beveling was done only on the side of the slabs, not top or bottom as these joins were done by placing the wall on the base-no bevel.

To demonstrate joining I would show them my quick and easy: using a saw blade with a course tooth to scrape the area to be joined. Then I would demonstrate joining with slip, or later on with Magic Water.

So once the first project was done, and a few other things it would be time for the Benchmark. For this I used a simple project with fixed dimensions and specific requirements. I also had a handout explaining the project, and the rubric for the project. For years the project was a candle box, a simple candle lantern to be used for a small votive type candle. The following file is one created for the project this past week. I would not have had all of the illustrations on mine as I was interested in their solutions to the same problem.

Required options: Piercing, stamping, incising
I hope that teachers can use these ideas to help them develop some of their own short term projects for ceramics, either for testing, or for fun.