Last week, we talked about the word “Ideal,” and the students created their own ideal cities. This week, Tanner had the students make ideal creatures, that would reside in their cities. But unlike last week’s 2D project, this week the students made 3D clay creatures.
Tanner gave his demonstration for the students, in which he gave examples of how to make a pinch pot to form their creature’s body. Much of the class already knew how to make pinch pots, which was helpful for Tanner during the demo, and during class-time while helping students.
Here, a student rolls some clay to make a ball to form a pinch pot:
The class was very eager to get their hands on the clay after the demo. They all had some creative ideas for their creature creations.
I worked with one student in particular for the majority of the class. We’ll call him “J.” J, like a couple other students, wanted help on making his creature. Specifically, he wanted to make a chinese dragon. I approached J with a question, “what features does a chinese dragon have?” He responded with a couple of comments about their curvy backs, the large heads, their eyes, and the ridge on their backs.
As I talked through J’s problems with him, he continued to figure out for himself how to make his dragon the way he had envisioned. It took some demonstration from me, but as he watched me, he began to grasp the way clay worked and moved in his hands and fingers. The addition of water for smoothing and slipping and scoring opened up a whole new world of possibilities. He became more and more confident in his abilities and his clay piece as he grew more familiar with the medium.
I also encountered a troubling scenario in class that day. A young boy, who we’ll call “A,” had some serious complications with his clay. As I was close to him for most of the morning, while working with J, I couldn’t help but watch A work through his troubles. He started off having trouble with his pinch pots, and couldn’t seem to make one he liked. Which moved into not making a creature he thought was “good.” He saw other students with their creatures making progress and coming out with successful finished pieces, and got frustrated easily with his work. He would make something, make progress, and then see someone else’s, and crush his piece in frustration.
It was difficult watching A go through his troubles, because I’ve been there before in a work of art. I tried to work with him, and convince him of his capabilities, but I didn’t get very far before I had to continue working with J on his dragon. In the end, A finished a creature, and I hope he can be satisfied with his finished product by the time they are done painting their creatures.
At the end of class, most all of the students had created a unique, creative creature that will be finished with paint during the next class period. It was a hectic day, working with clay and all the tools and techniques that come with it, but that made it a great learning experience for each of us teachers and students. We are all looking forward to finishing the pieces next week!