The 3rd grade clay project has become sort of a tradition in recent years due to it’s popularity with students and even the teacher! But this year, I had the pleasure of teaching the lesson that focused on the artist Bruce Howdle, a ceramic artist living and working very close to us in Mineral Point, WI. The artist is famous for his large ceramic installations and murals, vases, platters, humorous cups, and other ceramic pieces featuring animals as the main theme.
For our unit we focused on analyzing and interpreting his funny animal mugs!
Taking inspiration from Bruce Howdle the 3rd graders designed and constructed their own animal mugs. they students first spent time drawing out and designing their mugs. Not only did the students draw out their animal as a mug but they executed design drawings of what their mug would look like from a bird’s eye view, from underneath, and how the handle would be incorporated into their design. Many students also drew out their designs on paper cups to help realize their 2-D drawing as a 3-D form. We also had a discussion on shape vs. form, visual texture vs. texture, and non-functional vs. functional art. Once they got their hands on the clay is when the real fun began! The students learned about rolling out a slab of clay, constructing a cylinder, scoring and slipping when attaching clay pieces together, and different techniques to add texture.
The next step was to let our animal mugs dry out so that they could be fired in the kiln.
We were then able to glaze our mugs and make them functional pieces of artwork!