SchoolArts Magazine

March 2015

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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schoolartsonline.com 43 Kim Stamm I presented my eighth-grade stu- dents with a challenge to create engaging pencil organizers out of clay. Their quest began with viewing and discussing artwork by Robert Arneson, who was an accom - plished sculptor and effectively used humor in his art. Nothing excites middle-school stu- dents more than giving them a chunk of clay to mold. I started the first day with a demonstration of how to properly use clay tools, strategies on beginning a sculpture, and a variety of construction possibilities such as slab building, handbuilding, and additive and subtractive sculpture. Procedures 1. Show students examples of pencil organizers for inspiration. Introduce the artist Robert Arneson and his works of art. Discuss functional vs. nonfunctional works of art, and how any work of art can be a reflec- tion or a self-portrait of the person making it. 2. Have students sketch out three unique ideas for a pencil holder. Discuss with each student which is the strongest idea and how he or she may go about constructing it. Students can pull inspiration from their own lives, but trademark items are off limits. Encouraging students to think outside their comfort zone generates more dynamic results. 3. A demonstra- tion of additive vs. subtractive sculpture is necessary before students begin building. It is critical to review the dos and don'ts of clay handbuilding. 4. After sculpting, drying, and firing, have students glaze their works, and display them with the pencils in place. Things to Consider After the pots are sculpted, make sure that students remove or hollow any part of the project that possesses too much clay. The more clay that is removed, the better the survival rate. It is also important to consider the sizes of the pencil holes prior to firing. Because of the shrinkage that occurs in the kiln, it's crucial that students make the holes slightly larger than the size of a pencil. I fire the proj- ects on slow, cone 5, with ample drying time beforehand. After the firing process is complete it's time to glaze, then back to the kiln for the big reveal. Reveal and Appeal It never ceases to amaze me the excitement that spreads across stu- dents' faces when they lay eyes on their finished art pieces. As an art educator, this truly is one of the most rewarding feelings. This project requires each student to figure out the best way to execute his or her idea, the beauty being that there are no wrong ways to start. The problem solving that accompanies this project is infinite and challenging. Kim Stamm is an art teacher at Conestoga Valley Middle School in Lancaster, Penn- sylvania. N A T I O N A L S T A N D A R D Creating: Conceiving and developing new artistic ideas and work. W E B L I N K www.verisimilitudo.com/arneson It never ceases to amaze me the excitement that spreads across students' faces when they lay eyes on their finished art pieces.

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