Ceramic Planter Face

Last fall I applied for (and happily won!) my first grant with this project that combines both art and science. I proposed that many elementary art standards include making a three dimensional sculpture, while their science studies often cover the study of plants. Making this ceramic planter and then planting seeds for hair makes watching the growth process just a bit more fun.
What I learned: Turning a slab of clay into a cylinder worked pretty well for 4th and 5th graders. Any younger and it was a struggle. I tried having K – 3 make a pinch pot with a face, but they too often turned into bowls with a face, which wasn’t the same concept. Here is what I did with the older students:
1.  I used a wire cutter to make about 3/4" thick slabs cut from a  block of clay. Each student was to take a plastic drinking glass (about 3.5" diameter) and cut a circle from one corner of the slab to be the base of the planter. The rest of the clay was used to cut the largest rectangle (about 4" tall) possible. My experience was that this rectangle would not quite be large enough to wrap around the circle base. The clay would have to be worked together and combined to make the rectangle approximately 11" wide by 4" tall.
2. Once this rectangle of clay was wrapped around the circle base, the students had to blend all the edges to make it look like a smooth, closed tube. At this point, a bit of soft wet clay could be attached to look like a nose, and the eyes and mouth could be added or formed by pinching. When complete, a drainage hole was punched in the bottom circle with a drinking straw. Let the clay dry in the sun for several days.
3. When the clay was dry, the planters were fired in a kiln.
4. After firing, students painted them with skin tones glazes, and they were fired again.
5. Lastly, peat moss and grass seeds were added to fill the planters. My sample has simple grass seeds, but it would be fun to see what kind of curly hair could be produced with other seeds as well.

CA Visual Art Standard: Creative Expression, Grade Four
2.3 Use additive and subtractive processes in making simple sculptural forms.
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