|Classroom Projects: Ideas and Instructions
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.
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!
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
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.
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
- 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.
- “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.”
- 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.
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
HAVE FUN AND FOLLOW