It doesn't matter how old or young students are, they all seem to really love clay. When they walk into the art room and see it set up for ceramic exploration you hear "YESSSS!", "YAY!", and "WHAT ARE WE MAKING?!" They can't wait to find out when they get to take it home, even before anything has been made! Yes, clay projects truly are that exciting!
Our super lucky 4th graders recently explored coil pots! This was a first, both for them and for me. I'm not the best coil maker in the universe, and I've never taught a class how to make a coil pot. I tend to plan one day ceramic projects because keeping them moist enough to continue working on days later is tough to do in my space. I was a little concerned about how much we could accomplish in a 40 minute class, but they really rocked it!
Before students arrived, I used my brand new handy dandy slab roller (it's so awesome and saves so much time prepping clay!!!!) to prep bases for the coil pots. Art helpers punched out circular discs using plastic Wilton cookie cutters. 4 "clay cookies" were placed on the top of a stack of 4 canvas boards (one for each student at each table in the room). I prepped tabletop trashcans with clay tools for scoring and water dishes to share with elbow partners.
We viewed and discussed various examples of coil pots, looking for ideas. After a quick demo of how to make a coil, how to score and slip it to build upwards from the slab base, and how to sign the bottom, it was time for the 4th graders to dive in! They couldn't wait to get started!
Some chose to build straight up using coils, attempting to make their coil pot as tall as possible.
Some made tiny coil swirls to sit upright atop the larger coils as they built upward.
Others made beads of clay to add to their mix of coils for an extra bit of fancy!
We waited for them to dry on the clay cart for a few days. Any moisture in the clay could cause them to explode in the kiln, so we tried to be patient. Students are typically pretty proud of clay projects. They're treasured and students save them forever!
A retiring teacher gifted me this old media cart a few years ago, which has been absolutely perfect for storing glaze! I arrange them like soup cans on a store shelf. Glazes are easy to find and return to their spots, I can wheel it anywhere I need it to be, students can walk around it. It's pretty sweet. Opened containers have a sharpie "O" on the top so students know which are ready to use and which are not. If they want to know what a glaze looks like after firing (because they're mostly pastel and boring straight from the jar) there are glazed tile examples hanging from the side that are labeled so they can find the colors of their dreams!
Since brushes aren't always rinsed as well as they should be, we pour tiny amounts of glaze into glaze/paint dishes. This way the glazes in the jars aren't contaminated by other colors from dirty brushes.
Students worked to glaze their pots, filling in all of the nooks and crannies.
They needed 3 layers of glaze for rich color and glossy shine.
Some used one color for the entire pot, while others really mixed it up by trying several. They're all so different!
I absolutely love opening the kiln after a glaze firing. I love the color and the tings and crackles of cooling ceramics. After cooling for a day, I removed them and put the coil pots in the hall display.
Students and teachers have stopped to admire their work, and the kids can't wait to take them home! I've promised to return them before Christmas break!
Older students have asked who made them, can they make them too? We will definitely be exploring coil pots again soon!