Musings about the importance and impact of art and art education in the 21st century.

Musings about the importance of art and art education

2nd Grade Wayne Thiebaud Unit Part 1-Clay Melting Ice Cream Cones

♠ Posted by ArtMuse in at 1:56 PM

Second graders are finishing a unit based on the artist Wayne Thiebaud. The unit consists of clay melting ice cream cones followed by a two dimensional project where students create painted stacked ice cream cones. The kids love Wayne Thiebaud and are usually really engaged in the projects when I teach his artwork. Here are how the clay lesson went:  

 The clay cones took two days to sculpt and one day to glaze. After going over all the rules and directions for handling clay and washing our hands after using it, I spent the rest of the period showing them how to create two pinch pots and attaching them using a toothbrush and water. I found that just scrubbing the clay with the toothbrush and water was enough to get it to stick, and that I didn't need to make slip and use a fork and a brush like I usually do. 

After the kids made the two pinch pots, they attach them together and then squished the edges to make them look like melting ice cream. On the second day I had the students lightly pound a piece of clay on pieces of Carrugated cardboard. They pounded the clay with the cardboard facing in one direction and then carefully picked the clay up and turned the cardboard 90° so it was facing a different direction, after pounding the clay again, they were left with a crisscross textured shape. They then used a wooden stylus to trim the slab into a triangular shape and very careful rollled it into a cone shape. 
They used a toothbrush and water to attach the two sides together. At first I had the kids join the two sides but after doing it a few times I realized that if they had the edges overlap instead of just touch, it was much easier for them to create the actual cone shape without it coming apart. Although, you do have to emphasize to the kids that they have to smooth the two pieces together carefully so that they don't lose too much of the texture while doing it. 

Lastly, they attached the cone to the scoops. When class was over, before I put the cones in the back to dry, I checked each one and poked a hole with an awl through the bottom of the scoops up into the cone to make sure that there were no air bubbles that would cause the clay to pop or crack,. This year, I also had the kids simply make a paper label using sharpie (so it doesn't run if it gets wet) to write their name and place it under their sculpture and when I put the sculptures away to dry, I would write their names on the bottom. In the past I've had the students write their names on the bottom or simply write their initials, but somehow with the initials and the sloppy handwriting, there were inevitably some students whose work got lost in the shuffle. So far, writing their first names myself has worked out much better.

For glazing I used Mayco Stroke and Coat. The kids had seven colors to choose from. The colors were JavaBean and Tigertail for the cone, and honey dew, cottontail,  tu tu tango, orange a peel, and blue yonder for the ice cream. Stroke and Coat is great because you don't necessarily need to have three coats for the color to be really vibrant and in most cases, the color of the glaze unfired is pretty similar to the fired results, so you don't have to worry about the kids getting confused and choosing the wrong colors or colors they don't want for their project, if you don't have time to make samples.