Art Lesson Plan: Paperclay Sculpture

Paperclay Sculpture

Submitted by: Barry Lucy, Ruidoso High School, Ruidoso, NM
UNIT: Social Comment - Paperclay - Sculpture
Lesson: Homeless Awareness - Paperclay Sculpture
Grade Level: High School (advanced)



Students were required to do a series of thumbnail preparatory sketches for their sculptures before mixing their paperclay and constructing their ideas. Emphasis was placed on the elements and principles of occupied and unoccupied space and texture in their constructions. Finalized sculptures were fired unglazed to further emphasize the spatial and textural elements.



Paper Clay. 16oz - Creative Paperclay Modeling Material is a non-toxic, biodegradable modeling material that can be sculpted, molded or shaped, and air dries (no baking!) to a hard finish that can be carved, or sanded.


1 2

See detail  See detail


Art Equation:

Medium=Paper Clay.=equal parts toilet paper pulp+ sloppy clay

+ Process=Slab, coil, or paddle and anvil depending upon desired form 
+ Elem/Princ.=Occupied/unoccupied Space and Texture 
+ Concept/Concern=Homelessness in US
+ Reference/Influence=Outsiders and Others Gallery, Minneapolis, MN,

Homeless Awareness Show El Jardin de los Ninos Homeless Children's' Shelter, Las Cruces, NM
Paperclay article by Brian Gartside (Archive) - See also and


Additional Resources

Resources from Graham Hay web site. /paperclay.html
Sculptures by Graham Hay /galleryindex.html
Ceramics Today: /links/paperclay.html (Archive)

Media Preparation:

Blend toilet paper scraps and enough warm water to make a "TP smoothie" and mix with an equal amount by approximate weight of sloppy clay. Pug this mixture by hand until relatively homogeneous. The cellulose fibers of the paper serve to strengthen the mixture and retard shrinkage when dry and burn out easily when fired. Paperclay mixture can be poured onto a cafeteria tray or plaster bat for drying, then cut and cemented with some reserved sloppy paperclay, wet on dry, to create slab constructions, or kept at a wedge-able stage and coiled or used in other handbuilding techniques. Damp paperclay may be stored in plastic sealable bags and refrigerated to prevent decomposition of paper fibers.



Students were to create a visual response to the plight of homeless populations in our communities.  The response could include visual references to the idea of shells as "shell-ters" from a story told them of a homeless person I had met who was found living in an unused bandshell in East River Park in New York City and a class discussion of their own personal encounters with homeless people in our and other communities. Of particular concern were the homeless children sheltered at the Jardin de los Ninos in Las Cruces, NM.




PaperClay for Ceramic Sculptors: A Studio Companion. - How-to about the the modeling medium of ceramic paperclays (Earthenware Clay., Terra Cotta Clay., Stoneware Clay., porcelain) for all ages, beginner to expert level.

Working with Paperclay and Other Additives. - This highly technical account includes discussions and illustrations of the work of ceramic artists who work with this type of clay. There are no projects as such, but the description of materials and methods is valuable for potters working with this medium.



As these were projects done by AP Studio 3D Design students, the rubric established by the College Board for portfolio evaluation was used in an individual-to-teacher self-critique on a scale of 1-6, 1 being poor to 6-excellent, with respect to the overall effect of the piece and its use of space and texture.


Alternate Rubric (for those who do not have the AP rubric)


Assessment Rubric

Student Name:

Class Period:

Assignment: Paperclay Sculpture

Date Completed:

Circle the number in pencil that best shows how well you feel that you completed that criterion for the assignment.




Needs Improvement

Rate Yourself

Teacher’s Rating

Criteria 1 – Sketches and planning


9 – 8


6 or less



Criteria 2 – Execution of plans -overall presentation of ideas - use of texture and space


9 – 8


6 or less



Criteria 3 – Forming techniques/construction


9 – 8


6 or less



Criteria 4 – Effort: took time to develop idea & complete project? (Didn't rush.) Good use of class time?


9 – 8


6 or less



Criteria 5 – Craftsmanship – Neat, clean & complete? Skillful use of the art tools & media?


9 – 8


6 or less



Total: 50
x 2 = 100
(possible points)







Your Total

Teacher Total


Student Comments:

Teacher Comments:


National Standards (those covered will depend on how much class discussion there is and presentation of other works)

1. Understanding and applying media, techniques, and processes

2. Using knowledge of structures and functions

3. Choosing and evaluating a range of subject matter, symbols, and ideas

5. Reflecting upon and assessing the characteristics and merits of their work and the work of others

Students apply media, techniques, and processes with sufficient skill, confidence, and sensitivity that their intentions are carried out in their artworks

Students demonstrate the ability to form and defend judgments about the characteristics and structures to accomplish commercial, personal, communal, or other purposes of art


Students identify intentions of those creating artworks, explore the implications of various purposes, and justify their analyses of purposes in particular works

Students conceive and create works of visual art that demonstrate an understanding of how the communication of their ideas relates to the media, techniques, and processes they use

Students evaluate the effectiveness of artworks in terms of organizational structures and functions

Students apply subjects, symbols, and ideas in their artworks and use the skills gained to solve problems in daily life

Students describe meanings of artworks by analyzing how specific works are created and how they relate to historical and cultural contexts

(Advanced) Students communicate ideas regularly at a high level of effectiveness in at least one visual arts medium

Students create artworks that use organizational principles and functions to solve specific visual arts problems


Students reflect analytically on various interpretations as a means for understanding and evaluating works of visual art

Students initiate, define, and solve challenging visual arts problems independently using intellectual skills such as analysis, synthesis, and evaluation

(Advanced) Students demonstrate the ability to compare two or more perspectives about the use of organizational principles and functions in artwork and to defend personal evaluations of these perspectives


(Advanced) Students correlate responses to works of visual art with various techniques for communicating meanings, ideas, attitudes, views, and intentions


Students create multiple solutions to specific visual arts problems that demonstrate competence in producing effective relationships between structural choices and artistic functions





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