SchoolArts Magazine

JAN 2019

SchoolArts is a national art education magazine committed to promoting excellence, advocacy, and professional support for educators in the visual arts since 1901.

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SCHOOLARTSMAGAZINE.COM 17 traced their own design through the paper onto the other segments. Working with Clay Slabs While working on their designs, stu- dents took turns at the slab roller and cut out their clay slabs using the plas- tic plates as patterns. This same plas- tic plate was used both as their slump mold and as a work surface through- out the project. Students placed paper between the plate and the clay slab to prevent sticking and to allow for the clay to shrink as the days went by. Students coated their slab plates with black underglaze over the next three class periods while simultane - ously developing and tracing their designs onto the clay. It's important for them to perfect their designs before they are etched onto the clay surface to indicate where they should carve. The projects were wrapped in a bag each day with air put into the bag to avoid sticking, as the underglaze was damp. If the clay seemed too soft, we left the bag slightly open so it would dry a bit. This technique works best with leather-hard clay. Tracing and Carving When students were done with their designs, they set their tracing paper on top of their underglazed plates and retraced over the lines firmly to etch them onto the clay. Students had to be careful to not move their design when tracing the lines. (If possible, complete this step in one class period.) Once the tracing was complete, students lifted the tracing paper and began carving into the black under - glaze to expose the white clay under- neath. This tended to get easier as the clay dried over the next few days. At first, the clay was sticky and it was difficult to get a clean line. We found that a ball stylus worked best for carving as opposed to a standard sgraffito tool. Choices As students worked, they could decide if they wanted to go beyond just carving the lines to removing the shapes within their lines to expose more white clay. They could add patterns or utilize the woodcut block printing look to create more texture or hatched shading. They could also add limited color with underglazes to part of the white areas. The high-contrast black-and- white look appealed to most of them and was made even more dynamic when the plates were fired and a clear glaze was applied. This was an extensive project but students saw that persistence and the time invested paid off. They were impressed with themselves and were able to experience that approaching a task a little at a time consistently can reap impressive results. After the glaze firing, the plates were put on display in the school entryway showcase. The results were outstanding. This has become one of my favorite projects and I can confi - dently say, judging by the reactions I've received and the continual begging to take their projects home, that it was students' favorite, too. Jessica Stifel is an art teacher at Canton High School in Burlington, Connecticut. jstifel@ N A T I O N A L S T A N D A R D Creating: Generate and conceptualize artistic ideas and work. W E B L I N K Scratching the Surface: A Guide to Sgraffito, Left: Michaela Keen, arrow sgraffito, grade nine. Right: Amanda Carucci, face sgraffito, grade eleven.

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