Showing posts with label clay lab. Show all posts
Showing posts with label clay lab. Show all posts

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

In the Art Room: Clay Chameleons, Update Part 2

Y'all. When I opened the kiln this morning (which I had no right doing as that big ole lug was still flashing 600 degrees), I let out a squeal. Who snuck into the art room and put a bunch of cute-ified chameleons in my kiln?! I mean, really. Can you even handle...THIS?
 I know I can't. I'm so excited to share these with the kids next week. Their hard work sculpting and glazing paid off. Here's the video that I created to teach my sweet third graders this fun lesson:
The kids have loved this lesson! Having taught art (and clay!) for nearly 20 years, I've learned a thing or two along the way. My biggest tip for those working with kiln-fire clay: LET THE FINISHED PIECES DRY FOR LONGER THAN YOU'D EVER IMAGINE.
I was always led to believe that the reason clay exploded in the kiln (and I've had my share of 'splosions) was because of air bubbles. I call baloney on that theory. The reason there are explosions is: the clay is still WET. I allow my clay projects to dry in the kiln room which is both hot (due to the kiln) and well ventilated (as they should be) for TWO WEEKS. That's right, you heard me. Here's the deal: if there are any water molecules in the clay, as they are heated up in the kiln, they begin to move, faster and faster, until they cause an explosion. However, if you wait...every last one of those water molecules will evaporate and diminish your chance of breakage. One way to test and see if greenware (unfired clay) is ready to be fired? Touch it. If it feels damp, even slightly, it is still holding water and needs to dry.

The problem is...if your students' clay projects are thick (and some of these chameleons were very thick!) there might be water trapped within the clay project that you cannot feel with touch. My suggestion? Fire on the slowest setting possible. This will help air out the clay before ramping up to firing mode. 

In other words: When in doubt, DRY IT OUT. 

Can someone please help me off this firing soap box?! It's hot up here!
Now, when it comes to glazing, that's a whole 'nother story. Glazed pieces can be fired on the fastest setting as they have already been fired once and are not going to explode. In case you are curious, I use Cone 06 clay and glaze. 
 I don't always glaze with my students. After all, two firings is super time consuming. However, I do think that the glazing experience is important for kids to be exposed to at least once. It's truly magical. Imagine: little pieces of glass that are going to transform your dull clay project into a shining, sparkling masterpiece!
My favorite glazes are Mayco's Stroke and Coat. I love their color variety. I did order some of their Jungle Gems to add a bit of spots and sparkle to their projects...and I was a touch disappointed. I don't think I shook the bottles up enough because I don't see too much of the spotted and speckled effect. Perhaps my next crop of chameleons will be more speckled as their glaze is near the bottom of the bottle where all the glass has settled. 
 Oh! And if you follow me here...you might have seen that I received a copy of my book
This lesson is NOT featured in my book...which is why I can share it and the video for free with you here. Many of the project directions from last year's art show were not shared here...because I was under contract with the book publisher. Little known fact: when you are writing a book, they "own" the rights to your ideas! All that to say...all of the lessons I share in the book have not been released here. So 52 NEW art projects for you and your kiddos...that can be used with both no-kiln and kiln-fired clays! 
 ALSO...in case you didn't know, I've been hosting weekly #creatingwithcassie craft nights right here. Currently, we are felting but next month, we are exploring clay! 
If you'd like to join the fun and explore some fun new materials, pick up your clay kit here...no kiln required! 
 Now...this is just the beginning of clay themed posts as I've declared the month of May, the month of CLAY! So brace yourself...lots of clay posts ahead!
Until then!

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Thursday, February 16, 2017

In the Art Room: I WROTE A BOOK!




I know I've mentioned this before...but now I can finally make it official because IT'S FINISHED! Guyz, I WROTE A BOOK! 
I still cannot believe it. In fact, I don't think I'll actually believe it until I have a hard copy in my hands. The book is not due to come out until mid-May but it is available for preorder on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, IndieBound, and Indigo. It is so surreal to see my name pop up on these sites!

What will you find in this book? 52 CLAY PROJECTS, Y'ALL. Clay that does not require kiln fire. The purpose of this book is to give kids the opportunity to explore creating homemade clays, store-bought air dry clay, paper clay, oven baked clays...you name it, I tried it out in this book. Writing this book, I approached it from an art teacher standpoint: would my students enjoy these clay projects? If you recall my 1950's diner-themed art show last year, then you actually got a glimpse of several projects in the book. For our art show, we used kiln-fired clay which means that the projects in the book are versatile enough to be used with just about any kind of clay you have available. It's a book for those who wish to explore clay with children regardless as to whether or not one has a kiln!

So, how did writing this book come to be? It all started last November. A lovely editor at Quarry books reached out to me and simply asked me if I'd be interested in writing a book. She had seen this Sculpey creation and this paper clay pumpkin and was curious to know if I had more up my sleeve. I'm not even gonna lie: I was so flattered to be asked to write a book that I immediately agreed before discovering that I'd be dreaming up, writing about and taking step-by-step photos of 52 clay projects. 


It wasn't until last February that the paperwork was signed and I was on the hook to write a book. And that's when reality set in. True Confession: I'm a BIG TIME procrastinator. And there ain't no procrastinating when it comes to book writing. There were several deadlines throughout that I had to meet which was a good thing as it kept me working...but it was tough because I had to give up precious time to do so. I spent weekends and nearly the entire month of June in my pj's from morning til night sculpting in clay, snapping a picture, sculpting a little more and snapping another picture. That part was fun. It was the writing the steps out that was more tedious. I mean, I write all the time on this here blog but I write in a very casual tone. I had to sound all legit and professional and yet kid-friendly and such for the book. Thankfully, I was working with wonderful editors who helped tremendously.

June 30th was my final deadline. I made it...and might I add on June 29th. Whew! Snapping hundreds of photos and editing them, writing endless pages of copy and doing rewrites...it all made me seriously consider my life's choices. My husband's favorite question was, "Well, do you regret saying yes?" that answer varied from day to day during the course of the creating. But now I can say Nope! I don't regret it a bit! His next question is usually, "Would you write another book?" Well, I've not been asked...so I don't know my answer. 

Thank you so much for letting me share my exciting news with you. It's so nice to see all that hard work, long hours and pj'ed weekends become something tangible. You'll have to let me know if you get a copy and what you think! 

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