Students will FALL in love with this clay project! After examining leaves, students create a windchime out of clay using hand-building techniques. This lesson plan is ideal for 8th grade to high school due to the patience required with handling fine details in clay.
leaves of different shapes, sizes, color
- clay tools
- glaze or acrylic paint
- thin jute twine or ribbon or yarn
- paper or sketchbooks
- tracing paper
- Slab building: Building a form by joining sections that have been cut from sheets of damp clay.
- Leather Hard: The condition of a clay body that has dried somewhat but can still be carved or joined.
- Slip: A mixture of clay and water; Works as glue to fuse two clay pieces together.
- Score: Making small marks into the surface of the clay before adding slip or water to help fuse clay.
Motivation For Lesson
Students examine real leaves from trees. They should take note of shapes, sizes, lines, and details of each leaf. They start by making 2 detailed drawings of a leaf in their sketchbooks. The leaf should be drawn to the size of their wind chime requirements.
- Students will create a windchime using slab building which consists of a cylinder base and 6 leaf chimes.
- The cylinder must be a minimum of 3 inches in height & each leaf must be a minimum of 2 inches in height.
- Students can choose to make 6 of one leaf or a variety of leaf types.
*Students will begin the project by building clay slabs.
Clay Slab Building Tips:
Rolling out the clay: To get an even thickness, place a yard stick on each side and roll out until the clay is the same thickness as the yard stick.
Let's Play With Clay
After the motivation and preliminary sketches, students will roll out slabs of clay. When the thickness has been achieved, the rolling pin will be resting on the guide sticks.
Students should use a ruler to measure and a clay tool to cut out a rectangular base out of clay. (They will join the two ends to form a cylinder of clay.) Students should use a straw to cut two holes at the top of the cylinder so that their windchime can eventually be hung and make six holes around the bottom where they will tie their leaf chimes on. Students should be reminded about scoring and slip when joining clay pieces.
Students will use tracing paper to trace over their sketches. They will lay the tracing paper over a clay slab and using a clay tool, trace the leaf shape into the clay to make an imprint from which to cut out of.
After cutting, using their fingers and water, they should smooth the edges of their leaves. They should also use the straw to cut a hole in each leaf (for hanging).
Students should let the leaves dry to the leather hard stage. As the leaves dry, they will need to be flipped to prevent curling unless students would like this effect.
When leaves have reached the leather hard stage, students can use a clay tool to carefully carve details into their leaves. Since the leaves will be hung, they should pay attention to both sides and take care not to carve too deep.
Students can decorate their wind chime bases by carving into them or attaching clay pieces.
After the base/leaves have been fired they should either be glazed or painted with acrylic paint.
The leaves are attached to the base by lengths of twine/string or other material of choice.
- Article based on author's classroom experience.
- For images demonstrating slab building: http://pottery.about.com/od/stepbystepprojects/ss/heartpicframe_2.htm