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kids clay camp project

updated thu 7 jul 05


Elizabeth Priddy on wed 6 jul 05

I will preface this with the info that I have taught kids for 22 years
and have run parks and rec camps for kids for about 10.

I would have that many kids "press" a bowl rather than coil.

If you abuy an abundant supply of varied shapes of 4-6 oz
styro bowls at a party store, each kid works on the inside of the bowl.

The clay dries in situ and has a nice surface on the inside and the
outside. never underestimate how much the kids want something
that "looks like a real bowl". Trust me, they will get to make a coil
pot some other time. And pinching into a press form s fun, too.

It is cool to work the inside and then get the "surprise" later when you
take it out.

Do it ahead of time and see how much clay will make sure of no
paper thin walls. Have the kids build up and over the lip and then trim it.

The parents will think you are amazing as the "product" will look so
"much like a real bowl" instead of the "ugly rocks" they usually make
at camp.

You can include a hot glue on the interior of the bowls for a cooleffect
on the fiished exterior of the bowl. Don't worry about the resist, you can tear
the styro off in pieces to reveal the bowl. The little ones really love that
destructo part.

Make sure you have some very small bowls. many kids want something for
their dolls or their imaginary friends or just have a fascination with small things.

So...if you let them pick the size and shape bowl, keep it small, allow for creativity
with glue raised parts or even sand on glue, have them sign the styro and let them
dry there...i perceive the handling of 200 bowls over the three days is
going to be the bear that could get you. You can also get small 1 lb styro trays
from your butcher and these make beautiful little "Japanese" plates. The time for the
kids is spent making one plate and then turning it into the inverse form so they
can get to the back and put little ball feet on. Make them push a finger through to
the base of clay to make sure you dont have "gluing little feet balls on" time added
to your week.

you can have them stamp with a "found natural object" on the interior of the bowls
or plates to add interest. And while you have those busy little hands, have them make
you some stamps out of a coin size piece of clay from some surface or object they
find. Have them make two, one to keep and one for you. 70 percent of them will be
unusable duds. The rest will be the best stamps you could get as they will be made
with a fresh eye. Consider it your bonus.

I have done this with literally hundreds of kids over the years including 30-40
in a day parks and rec camps. Please avoid coil building if you can.

Also, if you get the right shape of styro, they can use the same shapes upside
down to hold the piece for painting. If you have them "prime the piece with
white tempera" before they start with color, the paint goes on smoother.
Suggest that they do either the inside or the outside in one solid color and
teh other eith a contrasting color and something painted. No matter how specific
you are, each kids bowl will be unique and special. Nary a one will make
one like yours. So if you start with something they can easily "get", it will be
more successful and less stressful.

And please don't fall into the trap of thinking that they will be happy with whatever
they get. Kids want quality and results. If you help them get it, and show them
that "standards" are a good thing, you might inspire a few kids to try pottery again
later instead of thinking that it is just a "busy craft" to keep them out of the 'rents
hair for a few hours.

my two cents. And I get paid to teach kids, would never do it for free. I take it
way to seriously. I think it is where future potters come from, and future potters
are very important to me.

Claudia MacPhee wrote:
Rachel, You are a candidate for sainthood-200 kids in ONE Day? What are
the age groups? I have used this clay before and the experience wasn't that

Elizabeth Priddy

1273 Hwy 101
Beaufort, NC 28516

*If you are an extra-sensitive or easily-offended type:
Remember that what I say is obviously just my opinion based
on my experiences and that I, like most people, don't go around
intending to step on toes and make folks cry. Take it with a
grain of salt.
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