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Monday October 2, 2017 at 12:05pm Age: 1 year
Category: Middle School, District


In their first quarter of art class, eighth graders are experimenting with the most primitive of all media: clay.

Developing their ideas from sketches, and using checklists as they work, students are sculpting ceramic sea turtles, wizards, and coil pots--which will give everyone a turn at the potter’s wheel. Just as important, students are challenged to place their artistic creations in societal, cultural and historical contexts. 

New skills and tools…
The ceramics curriculum exposes students to techniques in kneading and wedging, pot pinching, coil and slab building, scoring and slipping, stamping and etching. Students learn to use fettling knives (Not to worry; they are not sharp.), sponges, texture stamps, carving tools, rolling pins, and will soon advance to the pottery wheel. Eventually, their projects will be bisque-fired in the kiln, glazed (painted), and fired one last time, before emerging as shiny, colorful, and fully realized works of art.

Student responses to the wizards’ project
For student Cascadia, sculpting a wizard was about possibilities: “You can bring some magic into it,” she said of her richly textured wizard. She imagined him half-human, half-wizard, very wise, and with the power to make fire. 

, too, felt more engaged with the creative liberties of sculpting a wizard. His Excalibur-inspired creation stood tall pulling at hefty sword.

Coil pots: from ancient to new and personal...
Students watched a slide presentation featuring examples of coil pots from around the world, and across the ages, before sitting down to develop their own ideas on their sketchbooks. Emulation was not in the instructions: “Think of your own, new idea for texture and shape. Make it unique,” Ms. Saunders encouraged.

First time at the potter’s wheel...
Rylee and Sammy were the first to try their hand at the potter's wheel. “Before I tried it, I was a bit nervous, and worried about getting hurt,” Rylee said. “During it, it felt pretty good, and I wanted to go for another hour. Now I feel accomplished. I did it and it was fun!” (Watch a video clip on our Facebook page.)

Clay for the whole family...
At the Open House, unsuspecting family members were handed a small clump of clay as they walked in the art studio. They were given 10 minutes to create a miniature clay-pinching bowl and asked to imprint their initials on its base—so their children can glaze them after they learn about the technique, later in the term.

Art, every day...
This is the first academic year students are in art class every day, instead of every other day. Ms. Saunders is excited with the difference the 8-day schedule makes: “We’re only at week four and we’ve already completed two projects.”