Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Clay Houses

Clay play was a fun way to start a new quarter. Students had one day to explore all the qualities of clay before we looked at slides of various types of architecture, from huts to castles. I described each slide in detail to the students are completely blind. Those with partial vision sat inches away from the screen. Their assignment was to describe their dream house and try to capture it in clay. Once I demonstrated how to use the slab roller and we were off and running.

My colleague is married to an architect, so she brought me all his plans for a beautiful public library to share with the students.

I was so eager for students to spend every second of each class period working on their houses, that I about wore myself out by frantically cleaning up and setting up between groups. Exhaustion is a small price to pay for good art.

This flat-topped, Flintstones-style skyscraper (left) is one of the only house that does not have a removable roof. Most students wanted their artwork to be able to function as a box.

One student decided to take her inspiration from North Carolina's Biltmore House. The 18-inch slabs broke several times from uneven drying, and so she had to start over more than once. Every art project teaches more than just art. This time the lesson was in perseverance.

If I do this again, I think I'll have the unit last three weeks instead of two and allot more time at the beginning for planning, sketching, listing adjectives, and picking surface textures such stone, brick, stucco or siding. I'd also spent more time on the vocabulary of architecture (such as arch, balcony, column)  and quiz them on those terms so that they could make more informed decisions. Most of the students worked intuitively. But I'm still pretty tickled by their efforts and how charming their houses are turning out.