Wayne Thiebaud is an American artist, known for his paintings of everyday objects. These include many works depicting food; in particular, cakes, pies and pastries. For our second grade clay project, we used Thiebaud’s cupcake paintings as inspiration for teaching two basic techniques for making pots.
The base of the pot was a simple thumb pot and the lid a coil pot.
Each child was given two pieces of clay, a selection of clay tools and a damp sponge in a pot, all laid on a slightly damp cloth.
Take one of the balls of clay and knead it to get rid of any air bubbles. Then press thumbs into the centre to make a hole.
Push thumbs outwards to make a pot shape.
Smooth fingers around the top edge to make it flat and even.
Carve patterns into the bowl. Some children made lines to make it look like a cupcake case and others chose their own designs or carved names into the sides.
The coil pot lid
The base was put to one side and the second piece of clay kneaded to make the lid. The lid was coiled to look like frosting.
Shape the clay into a cylinder with your hands and roll it on the mat until it makes a large sausage shape to equal the length of the mat.
Keep moving hands along the length of the clay to avoid thin parts that will break off. The paper moved around a bit so it was helpful to have their partner hold their mat down whilst they rolled.
Measure the sausage around the top of the thumb pot. Keep coiling, sloping the sides inwards until it closes at the top. Add a clay cherry, if desired.
Dampen the inside of the coil pot with a sponge and rub your fingers over the joins on the inside, until the surface is smooth. This will stop it collapsing and falling apart.
Fire in the kiln
Session 2 :The Glaze
I showed the children pictures of Thiebaud’s cupcakes for inspiration.
The glaze colours were selected to match those used in Thiebaud’s paintings. Pastel shades, along with red for the cherries and brown for chocolate.
Each table had a paper plate with a selection of glaze colours on it and every child was given a fine and a thick paintbrush, a pot of water and a paper towel.
They applied two layers of glaze, being careful not to leave white spaces.
The finished results were pale and matt. I explained that the colours would become vibrant and glossy once they had been fired.
The Finished Results
The glazed pots are placed on stilts when fired in the kiln, so they don’t stick to the shelves.
I love the results. I think they will make a perfect Christmas gift.