Monday, May 6, 2013

Monochromatic Coil Pots AND Tips for Using Self-Hardening Clay

Like its cool cousin the pinch pot, coil pots are one of those projects that the vast majority of us probably do. There are many creative ways to jazz these stinkers up. But if you're like me, kiln-less, with 300 pounds of self-hardening/air-dry clay sitting in the corner staring back at you, the options are a bit more limited than our kiln-blessed amigos.

Luckily, this year, my student teacher arrived at the PERFECT time, ready to take over teaching just when third grade was ready to start the coil pot monotony fun! Thanks, Miss Caruso! :-)

We decided that to make the pots are little more interesting, we'd limit students' color choices. Miss Caruso ultimately opted to make the painting process monochromatic, and as is the case with many projects, the presence of boundaries really fostered creativity! It was also a good review of the color mixing we had done earlier in the year (here and here).

If you're going to coil without a kiln, I have a few tips for ya:
  • Consider giving your kids a practice day. I have found it VERY beneficial to use modeling clay to practice, taking the time to teach the physical making of the coils and subsequent construction of the pot. You can also use this class period to talk about the history of clay/coiling, why someone might coil as opposed to pinch their vessel, etc.
  • I highly recommend using the slip and score technique. Otherwise, your coils are bound to come apart.
  • I mix a small amount of white vinegar into my slip, which seems to build a better bond. Granted, it makes the art room stink even more than the usual Sharpie/paint/children after recess scent with which we're all so familiar, but a little stink isn't so bad.
  • Have your kiddos build their pot atop a canvas or other textural base. Even the self-hardening stuff will stick to your smooth tables. If you don't have the dough to invest in canvas boards, or if you want to use what you have (and/or you're just cheap like me, bah haha), small pieces of rough wallpaper will do the trick! (I have stacks of wallpaper sample books and chop those pages up for each kiddo.)
  • Just in case, have a hot glue gun and lots of glue sticks ready for when any poorly-made pots are dry and a-crackin'! The air-dry clay tends to undergo some major separation as it hardens.
  • Paint your pots with acrylic paint. Or, if you prefer tempera, seal the pot with a layer of acrylic gloss medium when all the painting is done and dried.
Any air-dry gurus have anything to add?

And hey, if you're reading this and you, too, are fire-free and are thinking, "girlfriend, there are a thousand ways to skin the coil pot cat, I've got crazy creative ideas for you!" then please, enlighten me!

'Til then, enjoy the one-color wonders!

1 comment :

  1. Anonymous7/17/2013

    - Also kiln-less, my kiddos have made simple shapes for the base and then built the coils up from there. They turned out pretty funky cute. Some started out with a heart and the coil became a circle at the top, or they started out with a circle and ended up with a square at the top. Their ideas to boot!
    - I've also bought little plastic cups and coiled inside of it, so they could do spiral coil walls and little designs. Just make sure they score and slip and really blend the pieces together. This was tied in with Pueblo Indian art, watched a video of Maria Martinez making clay, drew Pueblo inspired designs (natural vs geometric designs, their choice) on big paper with New Mexico landscape (desert), and then did paper mache pots, too.