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Classroom Projects: Ideas and Instructions
Preparation.
Work with Laguna clay on a sheet of unfinished plywood, cardboard, or several layers of newspaper. Store unused clay in a tightly closed plastic bag, and cover unfinished work with a damp cloth and plastic bag to keep the clay moist and workable. Some modeling clays such as Laguna Dry-Hard or Ovencraft clays are more susceptible to drying out than standard Modeling Clay.

Clay tools.
Household utensils make excellent clay tools. Dull knives, spoons, forks, chopsticks, paper clips, screws, sticks, crumpled foil and hundreds of other common household items are perfect to cut, shape and texture the clay. A damp sponge is ideal for smoothing slab joints (see below). You’ll discover more creative “tools” with every new clay project!

Pinch pots
make a great starter project. Begin by shaping clay into a round ball. Smaller hands should start with a smaller ball. Hold the
ball in the palm of one hand, and gently press the thumb of your other hand into the center of the ball. Turn the ball (photo #1) with short movements until your thumb is about 1/2” from the bottom of the ball of clay. Continue rotating the ball while pinching the sides between your thumb on the inside and fingers on the outside. Work from the bottom up to form the desired shape (photos #2 & 3). It may take a try or two, but soon you’ll be making great pinch pots!

Turning a ball of clay for a pinch pot
Pinching and rotating the walls of a pot
A pinch pot


Slab construction.
Starting with a slab, the possibilities are endless! Everything from miniature animals to funny faces, decorative boxes to wall plaques and even jewelry can all start with a slab of clay. Roll out a slab of clay using a rolling pin, dowel or broom handle. 1/4 inch or a little more is a good thickness for most projects.
  1. Making a box: (a) First determine the sizes for the top, bottom and sides of the box. Measure and cut those sizes from a slab of clay. (b) With a pin, paper clip or pencil, score the edge and side where the two pieces of clay will be joined (photo #4). (c) With a small sponge, moisten the scored areas and join the pieces of clay (photo #5). (d) Use a smooth stick, dull knife or chopstick to tamp and smooth the joint completing the seal (photo #6).

    Scoring egdes of a clay slab
    Joining two clay slabs
    Sealing a clay box joint

  2. To make a wall holder for dried flowers (photo #7) start with almost any shape slab - oval, round, rectangle, triangle, etc. There are many ways to create the vase or container to hold the flowers, but the easiest is to cut a semi-circle slab that is then attached in the same manner as the sides of the box are attached above. The slabs can be textured and decorated. Remember to make a hole for hanging.
  3. “Sun” plaques can be made in many unique designs. The sun in photo #8 was made from two slabs for a 3-dimensional effect. Make a 10” round slab. Leave 3” uncut in the center while cutting “rays of light” around the edge. Make a second slab (the sun’s face!) about 4” in diameter and center it on the larger slab. Attach the two slabs using the scoring technique described above in “Making a box.”
  4. Jewelry can be made by cutting slab shapes and forming them into pendants as illustrated in photo #9 or by rolling small balls or cylinders and then stringing the various shapes together into a necklace, bracelet or earrings. While the clay is still damp, use a toothpick or similar tool to create holes for stringing.

    Wall holder for dried flowers
    Sun plaque
    Jewelry made from clay slabs

Coiling clay.
The technique of coiling is the age-old method of making pots by laying coils of clay one upon another and smoothing them together to form the desired shape and size.
  1. The base. Begin by rolling a portion of clay into a round ball in the palms of your hands. On a smooth work surface, flatten the ball to 1/4” to form a base for your pot. Using a dull knife, cookie cutter, empty can or jar lid, cut out a base to the desired shape and size.
  2. Coils. Roll a portion of clay into a long oval gradually creating a coil about the diameter of a pencil (photo #10). With gentle pressure, press the coil to the base. Make another coil and lay it on top of the first coil. Repeat this”layered coil” process until your pot reaches the desired size and height (photos #12 & #13). You may also create a “continuous coil” pot by joining the end of each previous coil to the beginning of each subsequent coil (photo #11). Rather than a layered look, this creates a spiral appearance.
  3. Finishing. Either as you coil your pot, or upon completion of the coiling, smooth the coils together on the inside of the pot to increase strength and stability. You may leave the outside with the coiled appearance, or smooth it as the inside and decorate it with your own design.
Rolling a clay coil
Clay coil ready to be joined with another coil
Pot made from clay coils
Coiled pot with handle

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YOUR CREATIVITY!
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