Thursday, December 15, 2011

Leaf Tray Project

I did not realize what a relatively large commitment it would be to do a clay project as my first art docent project of the year.  I thought... an hour in the classroom, a bit of time with the kiln when I could fit it in, done and done.

Then I went to meetings, and the full picture of what I'd gotten myself into came into sharp view.

First there was the training on how to work with clay (for those of us who hadn't done it in a while)
Next there was the writing of the lesson plan, because the docent program is so new that lessons for clay projects are not all written yet.
3rd -  another meeting on how to use the kiln and clay roller at the school.
4: Reserve an afternoon to roll out the clay slabs
5: Teach the lesson (including goofing, stumbling over my notes, looking up at the class and saying 'Yes, I speak well in front of crowds' and giving a double thumb's up before continuing)
 We pressed leaves into the clay slabs for texture, then cut the slabs to the shape of the styrofoam trays (unused - donated by the local grocery store's butcher section) press the clay into the tray for shape, round off the edges, cut out leaves from leftover clay and add them to the tray wherever you would like to... using texture tools to create pattern.

6:Make a couple of sample trays, so that we have an example and extra trays just in case something explodes in the kiln.
7: Wait 2 weeks for the clay to dry COMPLETELY
8: load the kiln for the bisque firing, and cross your fingers that you don't drop a student's project and nothing explodes in the kiln
9: Unload the kiln (potentially returning to the school several times to check and see if it has cooled enough to unload)

10: Glaze the projects with the class
11: Find a safe place to keep the trays and wait for the glaze to dry

12: glaze-fire the projects in the kiln, and cross your fingers that you don't drop a student's project, fuse projects to each other, the kiln walls, or the kiln shelves, and nothing in the kiln explodes.

13: Unload the kiln (this time stopping by the school to prop the lid open so it will cool faster)

14: Deliver projects back to the class in time for them to bring the trays home for Christmas

Done and Done.

What I found the most interesting was the variety of ways in which the kids added leaves to their platters.  Some were extremely symmetrical in their layouts, others went abstract.  The glazing was also a show of creative license where some covered the entire platter in one color while others chose to put color in very specific places.  Every platter was entirely unique and lovely and the kids really enjoyed their art time, which was wonderful to see.

If you're wondering why I haven't blogged in a while, this is partially to blame.  Well worth the effort I think, but lesson learned... next year the clay project will start in January when I'm not bombarded with all my Fall activities and holiday hoopla.