I Hate Clay.

Discussion in 'Art Teachers' started by Crzy_ArtTeacher, May 18, 2010.

  1. Crzy_ArtTeacher

    Crzy_ArtTeacher Comrade

    Joined:
    Oct 10, 2008
    Messages:
    351
    Likes Received:
    0

    May 18, 2010

    I can't believe it but I think I'm just done with clay for good. Even using it with my older kiddos is exhausting, the clean up is extensive, and no matter what type of project we do the clay just falls apart. I spend more time hot gluing the projects back together than with the students.

    I have Marblex air dry clay and most of it came to me half dried out, and I had to re-constitute it into some kind of workable version of itself. I tried doing small sculptures really encouraging the students to scratch and score, but decided that small sculptures just break apart, we tried suns where they were mostly flat and added some pieces on, those just broke apart too. I did my last ditch effort with my fifth graders with coil pots and almost pulled all my hair out. The clay all broke apart once again. I don't know if any of you guys have had success with air dry clay but I just think I'm done with it. The only project I can really imagine have success with would be a pinch pot of some kind, because every time we try doing a project where we add pieces on the entire thing breaks.

    I feel bad, especially since my focus in Art Ed was ceramics, but I don't know if the students are taking away positive experiences with the clay anyways. Does anyone else have as hard of a time with clay as I do?
     
  2.  
  3. Securis

    Securis Cohort

    Joined:
    Dec 16, 2007
    Messages:
    695
    Likes Received:
    0

    May 18, 2010

    Air dry clay. Never used it. Sorry you are having such a difficult time with it.

    Is it a material flaw? I'm associating your problems with greenware and how fragile that stage of regular ceramics can be. Does the breakage happen during handling mostly or spontaneously without handling? Is there a suggested cure time before further surface treatment?

    Maybe a surface treatment before students handle their projects. A clear spray varnish might strengthen bonds that would otherwise break off.

    I can tell that it's made you very frustrated. I, too, would abandon anything that made me feel that way about my class. I hope it works out for you.
     
  4. Samothrace

    Samothrace Cohort

    Joined:
    Mar 14, 2008
    Messages:
    610
    Likes Received:
    0

    May 18, 2010

    I feel your pain! I use Marblex clay as well, afterall the description makes it sound great! lol

    I find it very inconsistent. My example I made for the 4th grade is hard as a rock. I haven't tried to break it, but it's not nearly as brittle as some of the other kids projects that that pick it up and a part falls off.

    The sad thing is, I have a kiln that they unhooked to put lockers in my kiln space when I lost my room last year. grrr...Although I'm fighting to get it back.

    I find the kids really get the true experience of building with the clay as it has the same feel, steps, mess etc. But they don't ever really get to enjoy the final project as it falls apart so easily (As I sit at my desk looking at my first pinch pot that I made in 2nd grade and my first coil pot in 4th grade)


    I did try to experiment with 1) sealing the clay with an arcylic varnish 2) using acrylic paint (which I didn't have as a part of my supplies last year) This has helped a little bit......

    But I know I won't be ordering Marblex anymore.

    Sometimes we have to stop and tell ourselves it's the process not the product that is the goal of our teaching in that instance, even if we want them to have something awesome to keep!

    Could you plan next year to do some kind of art auction, or go on that website (drawing a blank on it's name) where you can post project ideas to raise money...to maybe get a kiln. :D

    No matter what, clay will always be messy and will always make us extra tired. We love what we do and accept the feeling exhausted, dry cracked hands for months on end. lol

    Good luck! I hope you are able to figure something out and don't give up on the clay...b/c we all know, it's the kids favorite thing in the world to do!
     
  5. letsteach

    letsteach Comrade

    Joined:
    Oct 19, 2005
    Messages:
    278
    Likes Received:
    0

    May 18, 2010

    Did you use 'slip' to stick parts of clay together? From distant memory it is thick liquified clay. If that didn't help, I'm sorry, I've no other ideas.
     
  6. Samothrace

    Samothrace Cohort

    Joined:
    Mar 14, 2008
    Messages:
    610
    Likes Received:
    0

    May 18, 2010

    It isn't the slip and score process, it's the clay itself.
     
  7. Crzy_ArtTeacher

    Crzy_ArtTeacher Comrade

    Joined:
    Oct 10, 2008
    Messages:
    351
    Likes Received:
    0

    May 18, 2010

    Thanks for the suggestions, and the listening ears. I agree Samothrace, that it really is about the process, but I'm sure you know how hard it is to explain that to a child who is upset about their broken piece of art they spent so much time on.

    The Marblex air dry clay dries to a consistency of greenware, very very fragile, and not at all practical for elementary school students. Unfortunately I'm in such a large district that they do all of the ordering for us and we pretty much end up getting what we get. No real choice in the type of clay. I will definitely consider writing up a project for donorschoose.org to get a small kiln and get clay that can be fired to make it stronger. That may be my next big project through the website.

    My students and I have really come to enjoy model magic in the mean time, using it as a replacement to clay when the students projects have crumbled beyond recognition. The kids still get to sculpt some type of material, which is a good experience for them.
     
  8. Samothrace

    Samothrace Cohort

    Joined:
    Mar 14, 2008
    Messages:
    610
    Likes Received:
    0

    May 18, 2010

    The art teachers I work with got wind that our district is possibly going to this....they order the supplies and we order from the district warehouse. We've already sent out info asking that this person comes to visit our home base office so we can discuss with them 1. why we order what we do. 2. the drastic differences in materials that can either result in a successful project or failure 3. that we order things for particular things we plan on doing.

    We are really trying to prevent this from happening! Our kids already lose out b/c of the way our system is set up.
     
  9. Securis

    Securis Cohort

    Joined:
    Dec 16, 2007
    Messages:
    695
    Likes Received:
    0

    May 18, 2010

    So what they are saying is that they know better how to do your job than you do? Why do we get degrees, certifications, and licenses, if that's the case? What a total crock!

    Sorry. :blush:
     
  10. ArtTeacherK

    ArtTeacherK Rookie

    Joined:
    Dec 4, 2008
    Messages:
    39
    Likes Received:
    0

    May 19, 2010

    My solution to the air dry clay problem is that I tell my kids that the clay isn't very good and that it's practically glass when it dries. So if we want to use it, we can only use the clay as one hunk where we can "pull" parts out, but we can't add parts to the base.

    For instance, I've had kids make animals and they've pinched/pulled each individual leg out of where the body is instead of rolling a leg and trying to attach it. This has pretty much been the only way we've gotten this to work for making animals.

    My exception to this was when I had my 2nd and 3rd graders make solid shape buildings - if they needed to, they could attach rectangular prisms to other rectangular prisms or if they wanted to add cylinders or pyramids. The only requirement there was that instead of just using clay slip, I had them slip and score AND add elmer's glue to sections they were putting together while it was still wet. Worked wonderfully!

    Also, I always plan my clay project to come right before state testing - and because my schedule is a nightmare those weeks, we watch a movie related to the next culture we're going to study. So I do any necessary repairs while the movie playing. It's been working out pretty well! (Note: if their sculpture had broken before we get to painting, I have them paint the broken pieces and when everything is dry we glue it back together).
     
  11. Crzy_ArtTeacher

    Crzy_ArtTeacher Comrade

    Joined:
    Oct 10, 2008
    Messages:
    351
    Likes Received:
    0

    May 21, 2010

    ArtTeacherK, I love the idea of including Elmers glue into the creation process. I never even considered that.

    It also really makes sense to set up a repair day when the students are laying low. Great ideas, I can see myself having success using those methods!
     
  12. AmyMyNamey

    AmyMyNamey Comrade

    Joined:
    Sep 10, 2010
    Messages:
    471
    Likes Received:
    318

    Sep 10, 2010

    Water clay is an advanced medium, and I don't think most teachers recognize that. It is difficult for adults, let alone children.

    So why do we have children using it? Because it's cheap, that's why.

    The air dry clays are more demanding still. I wouldn't have children use them.

    Unless you want to use Crayola's Model Magic. It's air dry, it's kid-friendly, and it's clean. But it's not cheap.

    Then there are the polymer clays. They can be more forgiving than water clays, but they are many times more expensive. Still, they are better suited for early art education, as you can take more time with a project and you won't have to clean up as much.

    Water clays are a bear. You may want to consider having students take turns: Supervise a smaller group of kids with the clay while the majority of the class works on another project; rotate the kids based on behavior to help with classroom management.

    But turn an entire class loose with water clays and all bets are off. The best you can do is stop class early and have the kids do the cleaning.

    I used the Marblex my first year, and it was the last time I used it. Now, I'll only work with traditional water clay, modeling clay, Model Magic, or polymer clay. And we ALWAYS do a lot of practicing with modeling clay before I let them touch anything else.
     
  13. Securis

    Securis Cohort

    Joined:
    Dec 16, 2007
    Messages:
    695
    Likes Received:
    0

    Sep 13, 2010

    I have to disagree a bit here. Techniques and processes are advanced when taken into the finest detail. Sure, pushing children to create a perfect pot based on some line by line technique is probably not the best way to go. Clay on the other hand is simple, it's tactile. I certainly could care less if a child makes anything distinguishable based on their skill level. It's about process not product at younger ages. The end results have minimal meaning to the child but what they will remember is the experience of doing it and how they felt doing it. Clay is fun, that's why we do it.
     

Share This Page

Members Online Now

  1. Liam,
  2. Rowena Gallon
Total: 280 (members: 3, guests: 261, robots: 16)
test