SchoolArts Magazine

February 2016

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 33 Designing Snow Crystals Students use this information to study microscopic examples of actual snow crystals. They each complete an observational pencil drawing of one crystal, capturing minute, individual details. Students transfer their pencil drawings onto a rubber block for carv- ing. A rubber block is much softer and easier for students to carve designs into than linoleum. The drawing is placed facedown onto the block and transferred by rubbing with firm, gentle pressure. Students use carving tools to create a relief, bringing their snow crystals to life. Forming Mugs Students each roll out ½" (1 cm) thick clay slabs with a rolling pin, using a pair of wooden slats to maintain the desired thickness. The rubber block is then pressed into the clay slab, leaving the impression of the snow crystal. Students use a rectangular template to cut out a slab that will form the cylindrical shape of a mug, centering the impression. Students carefully wrap their clay slabs around empty paper-covered soda cans to fit. They score and seal up the seams of the clay where the two sides meet around the can. Using additional clay, students attach a bottom and handle to their cylinder of clay, taking care to score and smooth the seams to make them watertight. After drying and a bisque- fire, the mugs are ready for glazing. Students learn about the chemical reactions and color changes glazes go through during the firing process, then select their own color combina- tions of glaze. We used glazes that contain special crystals for added bursts of color. Reflections In this lesson, I always observe a spe- cial excitement as students become aware of the vast diversity of snow crystals. Students also enjoy experi- menting with familiar art techniques in new and different ways. Creating a mug encourages stu- dents to think through the challenges of making a functional sculpture with watertight seams, an ergonomic han- dle and lip, and a stable base. Finally, students are able to experience the surprises that come with working with complex glazes, discovering their serendipitous effects. Mary Ann McGinley is an art teacher at Poplar Grove Middle School in Franklin, Tennessee. mcginleymar@ fssd.org N A T I O N A L S T A N D A R D Connecting: Relating artistic ideas and work with personal meaning and external context. W E B L I N K www.snowcrystals.com I alwa s observe a special excitement as students become aware of the vast diversit of snow cr stals.

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