Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Clay Leaves- RES

These are a classic!  Second graders are making clay leaves.

These students chose to create leaf tiles, as opposed to bowls
 If these look familiar, you are right- these are not new, nor my own invention.  In fact, I am pretty certain that leaves have been immortalized in stone, since, well, fossils.

But that doesn't dissuade me, because grade 2 students love this every year, and it can't be "old" to you if it's your first time trying something.
Ka-pow. Blue maple leaf. Why not?

What are the educational goals here? Making clay leaves and leaf bowls explore the beauty of nature, teaches the structure of a leaf, shows skill handling clay, and teaches the technique of draping a slab.

Supplies needed: Clay, rolling pins, wooden sticks, needle tools, bowls, boards, leaves
 First, gather some large, gorgeous leaves.  Think outside the tree here- maple and oak trees are lovely, but so are the leaves from eggplants, sunflowers, rhubarb, hosta, and morning glories.
Students rolling clay and pressing leaves
After the clay is rolled out between the two sticks (to maintain ideal thickness), the sticks are removed and a leaf is places on the clay, and rolled again.  The needle tool is used to cut out the shape of the leaf.

Sunflower leaf

Afterward, students chose to either keep their leaf flat, like a tile, or drape it into a bowl. The clay then went through its first firing, called the bisque firing.
Glaze fills in the veins
Next, students explored ways to glaze their leaves. One option, shown above, was to glaze the entire leaf a single color, and then wash it with a sponge to leave the glaze in just the veins. Students could layer another color on top, and then leaves were fired again in the kiln. 
Ready to go in the kiln for the glaze firing

Students could also use their imagination- what about a polka dotted or striped leaf?  What about a turquoise-veined leaf glazed over with pale yellow?

Emerald green hosta bowl with black veins

Light green maple bowl with yellow spots

Bright yellow leaf with black veins

They can be functional (spoon rest, candy bowl, trivet) or purely decorative. Enjoy!

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