Submitted by: Kara LiCausi, Northport Middle School, Northport, NY UNIT: Ceramics - Slab Construction Lesson: Personal Clay Box - Personal Symbolism - Shaped Slab Boxes Grade Level: Middle School (7th grade)
Students learn to search for and sort ideas for content in their artwork.
Students learn to use personal symbols in creating a work of art
Students learn appreciation for contemporary ceramic art
Students learn to assemble and finish a lidded box-like form from slabs of clay between soft and leatherhard.
Shown below - Just four of the many ideas this lesson generated. An alternative lesson could be do make a visual pun. "Candy Dish" - box in shape of piece of candy would be an examples for this. One student made a "Fish Bowl" box. A "Hat box" could be a box shaped like a hat. Ice Cream cone could be an example for Pop Art lesson. These boxes were about 8" to 10" (20 x 25.5 cm) in size. Kara recommends doing them smaller for middle school as they went through a lot of clay. Maybe set a maximum size of 6" by 9"(15 x 23 cm) - and a minimum size or 4" by 4" (10 x 10 cm). Of course - design will warrant the size.
Make thumbnail sketches of ideas for box. Select one to use for construction. Make template for base actual size. Decide how deep box is to be. Make some templates to fit sides of box. Make template for lid.
Cut slab for base of box using template. Roll out slab of clay for sides of box. Cut sides. Gently curve sides to fit base (try to avoid leaving finger marks and indentations). Use template to cut lid. (Show student some different options for making lid fit). Wrap slabs overnight in plastic.
Assemble slabs. Score and slip where slabs join. Smooth in a thin coil of clay in seams. Decide how lid is to be done. One method is to put slabs on bottom of lid to fit inside box. Measure inside of box to insure fit and correct placement of slabs. Another method would be to fuse lid onto box - then cut an irregular line with X-acto knife. Box lid will only fit on in one direct. The irregular cut will keep it from sliding (have a sample that shows both methods). Fill box with wads of newspaper to keep lid from sagging.
Decorate outside of box. Add sprigging (added coil and slab decorations). Carve/incise designs. Allow to dry slowly - then bisque fire
Paint with acrylics (Kara use temperas with clear acrylic spray. Insides were painted, too)- or glaze/underglaze.
Other ideas included - television, American Flag, clown face, crayon box, fish bowl, strawberry.
1. Show student examples of contemporary ceramic slab construction (stiff slab and draped slab). You could present lesson as a theme - nature inspired - or Pop Art.
2. Review forming techniques. Demonstrate lid possibilities (have some examples for student to refer to).
Creating Idea Lists
(Suggestions adapted from Marvin Bartel) Start with a list of questions and they have to write the answers about themselves. They get into favorite music, instruments, sports, equipment, recreation, hobbies, leisure time activity, family history, family vocations, magazines they like, and so on. If the box is to be a gift, they make the list about the user. Think about personal symbolism.
After the list of words is fairly long, they make small sketches or symbols next to each word. Think of sketches as visual lists. Artists make visual lists to develop and elaborate good ideas and to eliminate weak ideas. One of these symbols will be developed for the box. Students select a personal symbol that says something about themselves.
It is also helpful to have students make a list of items that could be stored in a clay box. Student may want to make some of their own treasures to store in the boxes.