Serving Art Educators
and Students Since 1994
Submitted by: Rebecca A. Shampine, Indian River High School, Philadelphia, New York
Ceramic Clay Birdhouses, Slab Construction - Functional Ceramics
Unit: High School Studio Art
Grade Level: 9 - 12th
This lesson is designed for my Studio Art Class
The clay birdhouses were created during a 10-week sculpture unit done in Moist Clay. A class discussion about the work of Michelangelo, Henry Moore, and Alexander Calder was used as an introduction. The various materials and methods used by each artist were discussed and compared.
Students were then introduced to clay methods and materials. Pinch, coil, and slab methods were demonstrated. The first project of the unit was a clay wind chime. The top of the wind chime was created from a coil pot. Holes were placed at the base of the pot for the chimes to hang. From there, the students were to create various chimes to hang from their pot. The students were encouraged to keep with a theme.
The birdhouses were accomplished in a very similar manner. Students had to create plans for their house. A "blueprint" was drawn by each to help the students form a theme with which to work. Students then cut out patterns and rolled slabs to use for the walls of their house. Slabs were cut to the correct sizes and allowed to become leather hard. While the slabs were becoming more firm, the students began to create their "decorations" for their houses. Once all the pieces were ready, the students put the houses together, making sure to sufficiently score and slip each and every piece.
After the houses were fired, students painted them with watercolors and sprayed them with a clear sealant. The works were then placed on display in our glass cases near our Theater of Performing Arts. Both projects were third place finishers at our local art show this year.
Slab-built Ceramics - The basic aspects and astounding versatility of slab-building is unveiled in this illustrated survey. The working methods of 16 international ceramists are covered in detail and accompanied by images of their sculptures and vessels as well as hints on making the most of the slab-built technique.
Handbuilt Ceramics - Triplett offers a guide to basic techniques, from pinch pots to slapwork, with color illustrations of tools and techniques and instructions for eight projects of planters and pitchers.