As I’ve mentioned before, we’re lucky enough to have a lovely neighbour with a pottery kiln. This time she invited us over to make some clay tiles, so I thought I’d have a go at making designs using the children’s hand and footprints.
I used a handprint for 5 year old Amelia, and footprints for 2 year old Ciara, which meant both fitted nicely onto the space available. Amelia enjoyed painting her own hand and making the print, and then I added on extra detail to turn it into an owl (yes, I know I always make owls – I think they’re beautiful creatures, and one of the only things I can actually draw or sculpt successfully too!)
Next I’m planning on getting some thick cord to go through the holes at the top so we’ll be able to hang the tiles from the wall.
This is another activity that my 4 year old daughter and I were able to enjoy as much as each other.
Because we had access to a kiln we used stoneware glazes, but you could easily do something similar with acrylic paints.
We took a 4″ clay tile and drew the animal outlines with the help of a very fine stencil. Then we painted them in various colours (I love the purple and orange combination Amelia chose for her fox tile!). I also used a textured outliner to make dots for the falling snow and squiggles to accent the snow on the ground.
When they were fired Amelia was initially upset that the face she had painted in red had not shown up against the orange background of the fox. But she then had the idea of sticking googly eyes onto it – and I think they look great!
I won’t give a full description of the process as there are countless tutorials on the internet, but basically you take a ball of clay, make a dip in the centre with your thumb, then rotate it as you pinch the sides between your thumb and forefinger to form a pot shape – and, yes, it really is that simple!
Anyway, getting carried away by the success of my basic pot-making, I decided to ask Amelia if there was any animal she would like to see me make into a pinch pot. I’d expected her to say something simple like a cat or a dog or even a snake – I can manage those – but no, she had to say “a unicorn”. Of course, I couldn’t let my daughter down, nor could I refuse a challenge, so a clay unicorn it was! I had no idea where to begin, but I think I surprised myself with how well it turned out (clay really is a very forgiving medium, and you can get away with a lot of mistakes you probably wouldn’t in another art form.)
I also made an owl shaped pot (because I knew I could “do” clay owls, and also because I think they are truly beautiful creatures) as well as a cat (not yet fired and glazed – will add pictures when it is).
Once our pots were dried it was time to add the glazes. Or actually it wasn’t. We should have bisque fired the clay first, but in our eagerness to get painting we forgot all about it. Luckily it didn’t do our pieces any harm, but I think if they had been larger it may have done.
Then our lovely neighbour popped them in her kiln and fired them for us. After that it was simply a case of adding a little compost and a succulent cutting to each, and just like that we had some lovely new miniature planters to brighten up the kitchen windowsill. 🙂
After a near clay-tastrophe with our first set of pieces (in our excitement about painting and decoration we forgot the bisque firing stage completely) I was keen to go for a nice, simple project. These clay owls fit the bill perfectly. I can vaguely remember making something similar many years ago when I was in Brownies, but I wanted a bit of a refresher so I searched online and found this great tutorial on a site called thatartistwoman.org.
Amelia did all her decoration with a pen lid and a kebab stick. She made the eyes with the pen lid, while I scored and slipped 2 little circles on mine for a 3D effect as well as triangle for the beak. (We didn’t score and slip any other parts of the owl, as being made from a complete circle I figured nothing could fall off – time will tell if that was the right choice!)
When we were finished folding and decorating the owls, I added a hole for hanging (in hindsight 2 holes, one on each ear, might have looked better, but never mind). I also shaped my owl by smoothing the edges with my fingers to make it a little more rounded.
This is a fantastic project for children, as the creations look great, and even preschool kids can manage it pretty much independently (4 year old Amelia’s owl is on the left of the first picture, with mine on the right.)
I’ll add some more pictures when they’re fired and glazed – and this time we’ll make sure to bisque them first!
Of all the art projects I remember from my childhood, I have a special fondness for clay. So, you can imagine my excitement when our very kind neighbour, a clay artist, came round with a spare bag for me and the kids.
We decided to start by making tea light holders. Amelia started off rolling out a small ball of clay, and shaping it with her hands until it was just large enough to hold the tea light. We then looked at what objects we could use to decorate them. Amelia used a kebab stick to make holes in the clay, and then had the idea of pressing her tiara into it to make impressions.
Amelia then said she wanted to make some “jewels”. She shaped the clay into pendants, stamped them with various textures, and I made a large hole in each with the kebab stick so we would be able to string them.
Meanwhile I made some toadstools and a tiny hedgehog to go in our fairy garden. I also made some clay animal plant pots, but they will be the subject of their own post.
I will post more pictures when our items are glazed and fired…