How to use Clay In Primary Schools affordably.

Primary School Pupils making models about memories in Carmarthenshire.

Primary School Pupils making models about memories in Carmarthenshire.

Clay is a fantastic resource for schools. Kids relate to it immediately and it usually engages their attention for surprisingly long periods. The majority of Pupils will learn best when their hands are busy. It is the 3D equivalent of Drawing; it’s not just for arts and crafts; it’s versatility and affordability means it can be used to enhance all sorts of subjects even maths or history. Many children will find expressing and accessing their ideas in 3D much more natural than using 2D and for some it will be much easier than using words.

Making a Zoo complete with 4 toilets, a car park and an over-looking  military complex. We worked on this all day, took photos and then squashed it all up. Fantastic fun, lots of skill sharing and teamwork.

Making a Zoo complete with 4 toilets, a car park and an over-looking military complex. We worked on this all day, took photos and then squashed it all up. Fantastic fun, lots of skill sharing and teamwork.

Bringing an experienced Ceramic Artist into school is a great idea  and will be worth every penny for special projects. But for everyday use the most important skill needed is the one you have; knowing your kids and understanding how they learn best. The clay-skills required are very straight forward.

Plan to recycle the clay at the end of  each session just like a superior version of plasticine.

Apart from special Projects there is no good reason to fire clay-work in Primary School. Firing adds  complications to the skills required, storage problems, big costs and lots of extra work for teachers.

If you want your Pupils to benefit from the science and art of firing ceramics bring in a Raku Potter for a day. It will be fantastic fun, massively educational and the ceramics will be gorgeous!

Clay Modelling kit- One time purchases, max £60

You will need;

-1 x 12.5kg bag of Scarva Earthstone ES70  Architectural Body Clay a professional quality white clay from Scarva, my favourite supplier of outstanding sculpture clays. Including delivery you will spend about £25-£30.

-A bucket (the clay bag always leaks!)

-a choice of tools; Wooden Modelling Tools and Ribbon Tools will be the most popular. Scarva have a good range but I buy them from Top Pot Supplies ( best quality yet lowest prices!) Amazon has affordable letter stamps (Small or larger) that will be very useful.

-Re-usable plastic table-cloth cover if you are worried about scratches on your tables as this clay has small grit in it.

-a few micro-cloths. They are the quickest, easiest cloths for cleaning tables and hands.

-Boards are optional. B&Q will custom-cut a sheet of MDF for you. A board wide enough to fit across a wheel chair is great for some people.

Approx cost, incl. sheet MDF; £60. You don’t need all these items to start off.

Big Join-In Sculptures have a job for everyone and even the smallest contribution is part of something fantastic.

Big Join-In Sculptures have a job for everyone and even the smallest contribution is part of something fantastic.

The quality clay is the important item. Clays are made with recipes and therefor there is an infinite number of types of clay, each with particular properties. ES70 is absolutely lovely to use; it feels very nice, it’s not sticky, it doesn’t stain, it’s easy to clean up ( on carpet let it dry + brush out), it’s not irritating to sensitive skin and you can eat it! Most importantly it is very easy to use so people get good, rewarding results quickly. Beginners deserve a great material that will reward their bravery for trying something new and give them fab results that will spur them on.

ES70 works very well as a self hardening clay and can be decorated with poster paints once it’s dry.

Plan to recycle all the clay, even if it’s painted or has dried completely. Explain that the clay is expensive so you need to keep it for next time so that they don’t think it’s because you assume they will make rubbish! Pupils are usually perfectly happy to  let it go. Often it takes the pressure off to make a ‘product’ and they can relax and enjoy the making part more.

Clayton The Rottweiler has a full set of internal organs including a working bladder! At the end of the session we recycled the clay.

Clayton The Rottweiler has a full set of internal organs including a working bladder! At the end of the session we recycled the clay.

Re-using the Clay

-At the end of a session drop all the clay back in the bag. (lots of pupils will love smashing the work up!)

-Put bag in Bucket

-slowly pour  a cup or so of water over the clay in the bag to soften the clay.

-Close bag w/ twisty

-leave  over night or longer.

-place bag on floor and step on it a few times to “knead” the clay, turning bag a few times.

-Voila! It is ready for use. You can re-cycle your clay endlessly.

!? Bag goes rock-hard; Allow to dry completely, drop lump on floor to break up, put pieces in bag and recycle

!? Bag goes quite hard; knock holes all over lump.(hammer + screw driver= surprisingly satisfying task!) Return to bag and recycle.

!? Bag goes too squishy; Tip clay onto a board and allow to dry until useable. “Knead” a few times over the day (or two) so that it dries evenly.

For larger quantities of clay recycling click here.

Storage

-Always close bag tightly w/ twisty

-Ideally store in a handy frost free place but it doesn’t matter  if the clay freezes.

-Ideally have the bucket on wheels as 12.5kg is quite heavy (plant pot wheels – Home-Bargains, £1.99.)

-Have all the kit together for quick access by everyone.

Primary School children visiting the Care home for lovely afternoon of creative fun with Residents and carers. There was lots of singing, laughter and sharing. The residents lit up and the children were relaxed, charming and really enjoyed supporting their elders.

You can see more about the wonderful, 2 year long, Arts Care Gofal Celf Project shown in the pictures here; The Tumble Commission, parts 1-8 

General information about Workshops with Osprey Studios.

More information about collaborative and community projects.

 

Tuition, Workshops, Play Events and Parties.

 

 

The measuring frees you up to be expressive with your modelling .

The measuring frees you up to be expressive with your modelling. Concrete skills set your creativity free.

Osprey Studios has a major commitment to sharing skills and encouraging creativity. I have a great deal of experience in guiding people of all ages and abilities towards their own style. My sculptural techniques have been tested to destruction and make sound foundations for your own exploration of clay and form. You can find my set of ‘How To’ posts here. I update and add to them regularly and get a big kick out of the fact that they are now used all over the world.

From time to time I’ll run a Master class here on a particular thing; Posts about Workshops. If there is something you want to work on let me know and I’ll collect together a group of like-minded people and we’ll set a date that works for everyone. The price is usually around £90 p/day each for a 7 hour day, with a max group size of 8, including home-made lunch and refreshments. Only materials or tools kept are extra.

A Masterclass at your venue can have more students than that depending on your resources.

 

Groups or individuals are welcome to come to Osprey Studios (SA9 1YT).  Being in the Studio environment with work-in-progress and the sculpture garden outside is part of the event. I usually provide homemade refreshments and lunches (included in the fee) and we have relaxing breaks on the sofa or in the garden to swap ideas and chat. There is accommodation available here or lots of other gorgeous places to stay and eat in this lovely area.

Or I can bring everything we need to you in my van. Sculpture in clay makes surprisingly little mess and is easy to clean up.

The Workshop will be custom made to suit your needs and objectives.

For example;

  • A 1 day workshop guiding you towards your own ‘voice’ in 3D artwork. A very enjoyable, fascinating day with lots of laughs and new experiences in clay work whatever your starting point.
  • Making figures: a 1 day workshop incorporating a great deal of very useful information relavent to all sorts of artwork.
  • I particularly encourage Teacher’s to do a fun, very straightforward 2 hour Workshop on using clay modelling in school. We’ll cover firing/self-hardening clays, recycling clay, decorating and controlling costs, everything to help you keep clay in the class room because it matters!
  • A Portfolio Review will clarify the way you see your work in preparation for college applications or a change of direction.
  • ‘How To’ classes with technical solutions for challenging projects, including working on a large scale, hand-building pottery, drawing from life, portraits/figures, all suitable for all levels of experience including total beginners. 
  • Join-In Sculptures are great fun and full of learning opportunities. They are the ultimate embodiment of unstructured, experiential, messy play! I have done these with adults and children at Events and Parties in all kinds of settings and they bring out the best in everyone. The fabulous, ever changing sculpture is photographed along the way and then we re-cycle the clay. It is a wonderful, flexible, cost effective way to engage and inspire even very large groups ( 80 year 2’s over 1 day is my best yet) and great for working through themes, building concepts and stories and engendering co-operation. No matter how small the contribution it is part of something greater.

                   

    OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

    Occasionally I’ll go for other materials and processes like drawing or murals. This fantastic 3 metre x 2.5 metre painting was done with many wonderful young people at the Penrhos Youth Centre in short sessions over 6 weeks.

This magical book to go in the Library was part of a sculpture project with year 5 at Pennard Primary School on the Gower.

Fees start at £30 per hour + 44p per mile travel + materials. On average individuals will use around £2.00 worth of clay. On many projects, like the Join In Sculptures, all the material is recycled so there is no charge for it.

Feel welcome to contact me to chat through your idea: phone 01639 731271 / 07913743457 or email at osprey.studios@btinternet.com