Project-based Homeschooling: Pottery Class Update

I’ve written extensively about my eight-year-old’s interest in working with clay and his pottery classes. I thought I would update you with some of his latest work from his pottery class this past fall. It was an eight-week class that was extended for an additional three weeks. He had a different instructor this time, which I think was a positive experience because he learned new and different techniques. He learned hand-building and wheel techniques.

I don’t have photographs of everything he made. Here are just a few items, including my favorite sculpture: his two-headed chameleon. What impressed me about this work is that he didn’t copy what the teacher was making — he came up with his own idea. (He told me he changed his mind a few times before he settled on a chameleon.) And then he sculpted it from memory! At home he will usually look up a photo of an animal to draw or sculpt, but in the class, he didn’t have access to the Internet, so he did this from his own knowledge of what chameleons look like. I am not sure I could have done that!

He told me that he sculpted one head, but then at the last minute, he thought, “Maybe I’ll do two heads.” Okay, then! What an imagination! I think it turned out fantastic.

By the way, these photographs were taken with my phone. In my next post, I’ll tell you what my five-year-old and I did while the eight-year-old was in class. ūüôā

 

I love the final product.

Here you can see a few pieces that were made on a¬†potter’s wheel. The tall one on the left was made by a method of stacking more than one pot thrown on the wheel. He also learned about raku firing, which is a Japanese way of firing pottery. ¬†I learned that¬†raku firing does not make a pot safe to eat out of! The two-headed chameleon and the small bowl in the back right of this photo were raku fired. The raku firing can give a pot a metallic look, which can be beautiful.

I especially like that they make him clean up!

He opted to take a break from pottery this spring, but he says he wants to take a summer camp at the pottery studio. Since this is his project and interest, we’ll support whatever he wants to do (as long as we can afford it). I hope he sticks to it, but only the future will¬†tell!

Project-based Homeschooling: Long-term Clay Interest

I’ve already written a detailed column about my seven-year-old’s¬†recent participation in pottery classes and his growing interest there, but I wanted to create a post that showcases some of his work with clay over the long-term and how it has slowly culminated to the point where I knew he would love those clay classes!

He’s been working with clay since he was four. A year or two ago, he watched some videos about pottery and clay, and he made this little car following a tutorial.

And he made a tree of his own design.

His Titanic was part of a long project, and my column became one of my first and most popular PBH articles.

Remember when he made this penguin?

I never showed you his space shuttle.

Or his sauropod.

His Mayflower. He also made the Mayflower out of cardboard, and we read a book about it, so this was a little bit longer project.

His hummingbird. He also painted it, but I haven’t got a picture of that.

Earlier this year¬†we enrolled him in a homeschool pottery class where he learned how to use the pottery wheel…

…and sculpting techniques such as “pinch pots” and “slip and score,” and then he used those techniques at home…

…to make some sculptures such as¬†this frog. Later he painted it green, and it’s really cute.

And he made a bird sitting in a nest.

And a dinosaur.

We also let him take a week-long pottery summer camp, which was about Asian pottery and Raku methods…

The big pieces on the left and all the pieces in the front row are from his Asian pottery camp. (The big black one is a lantern shaped like a house. Though it looks black in the photo, it actually has some very cool, iridescent colors in it.) Also there are two sushi plates and the plate with different compartments are from his Asian pottery camp. Everything else he made in the homeschool pottery class. And he’s anxious to take more classes!

As I mentioned in my column, we’ve also taken him to some pottery sales, and he’s had a chance to speak to¬†local potters and see their kilns. We plan to continue letting him take classes as long as he wants to (and as long as we can afford it), but this will probably¬†happen over a long time. I look forward to seeing where he takes this!

And I guess I need to get more shelves. ūüėģ

Clay Penguin

I just wanted to share this penguin and its baby that my six-year-old made earlier this summer. This was his own idea, and while he was making it, he looked at a photo of a penguin and its baby on the Internet.

 

 

Air-dry modeling clay is a staple in our house. You can buy a 10 lb. box of Amaco air-dry modeling clay for about $8 at craft supply stores, and it lasts us a very long time. I keep the box and a roll of parchment paper in our activity room, and the boys can get it out whenever they want.

Keep in mind that the air-dry clay can crumble and break easily after it dries, so I would not recommend it for serious work, but it’s been great for the boys at this young age.

♥ Show them how to use the materials. 
♥ Show them how to take care of them and clean up afterward.
♥ Give them freedom.
‚ô• Watch the creativity unfold.

You can see more of my son’s creations in The Little Projects and Boys Like to Build.