SchoolArts Magazine

OCT 2010

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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Elementary Studio Lesson on a laced P Pedestal Famous Faces in Clay Nancy Walkup A in plastic baggies and labeled with sturtists have created portraits dent names written on masking tape of people for thousands with a marker. of years. In sculpture, a portrait of a person's face often includes the neck and part of the The Portrait Bust Next, we viewed and discussed porshoulders and chest. These artworks trait busts from both historic and are called portrait busts. contemporary art, such as Jeff Koons' Recently, I asked my fifth-grade Louis XIV. We also looked at Ah students to each choose a historic or contemporary person to commemorate Xian's Asian-inspired busts, Houdon's Benjamin Franklin, and Settignano's in a clay portrait bust (sometimes I Laughing Boy. assign self-portraits). After students Because my school I asked my fifth-grade decided on the has a character edustudents to each choose a subjects of their cation program that historic or contemporary busts, each began provides posters person to commemorate with another piece showing images of in a clay portrait bust. of clay (about ¼ students on archipound) and shaped tectural columns, it into a thick cylinder. They pinched I thought we could add pedestal columns this time for these commemora- and manipulated the clay to form a neck and shoulders. (Caution students tive clay busts. to keep the neck thick enough to support the weight of the head.) Starting with Columns Next, students formed a round head To begin, we looked at images of the and pressed the body to widen the three main types of columns—Ionic, shoulders a bit. At this point, students Doric, and Corinthian—and where each unwrapped their previously comwe might find examples of them, both locally and around the world. Students pleted columns and attached the bust to the column with slip, a mixture of each rolled a short, thick cylinder water, clay, and a few drops of vinegar. of clay (about ¼ pound) for the base. Though students could complete the They added decorations as desired, entire bust before joining it to the depending on the kind of column they column, it was easier for them to add wanted to create. (Small coils of clay delicate details by attaching the colwork well for details.) When the columns were complete, they were stored umn at this step. 24 October 2010 SchoolArts Details, Details, Details Students shaped their portraits by hand and with clay tools adding details such as hair, hats, glasses, clothing, etc. If they chose, students could use alphabet stamps to identify their portraits in the still-wet clay. If this stage was not complete in one day, students stored their work in progress in the same baggies that held their columns. When the portraits were complete, I turned them over and pushed a pencil up through the middle from the bottom, taking care not to come out of the top of the head. This allowed the inside of the clay to dry so that it wouldn't explode in the kiln—an experience I, thankfully, have only had once! Finishing Touches After the busts dried for about two weeks, they were fired. Students had the choice of glazing them or painting them with metallic tempera paint.

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