The final project beginning ceramicists completed last semester were carved spheres. They learned all about how to create a pinchpot and how to use 2 to make a sphere. From there, they utilized their carving skills from the previous carved tile artwork. They did a wonderful job and have grown a lot since they first made those slab boxes. I can't wait to see what they do this semester.
Beginning ceramicists learned about carving clay to create interesting tiles. Once the tiles were bisqued, they did a non-glaze surface treatment to them. Students used oil pastels to add color, then covered the entire piece with black tempera paint. To complete the treatment, the students ran the tile under water to wash away the extra tempera. The oil pastels acted as a resist, only allowing to penetrate the clay where the color was not. It gives an interesting look to some wonderfully carved tiles.
If you go back to the first post this year, I mentioned making a shift in my classroom from a teacher-directed space to a student-directed space...otherwise know as TAB or Choice-Based. I am super happy with my choice to switch. But, all too often it's talked about what we as teachers want and how something made us feel or if we the teachers made the right decision. We don’t ask the students, the most important people in our teaching world, what they think.
So, I did just that. I asked them on their midterm exam what the experience of having choice in their classroom was like. Here are some responses.
“This effected me a lot because last year we were very limited on the materials we had to use, and we all had to do the same art work in the same manner everyone was doing it. It was a good idea for you to change it to were we can all do different types of art work but with the same theme, for example we were able to carve, paint, draw, and a lot of types of work. i think that method should stay because you can see what each person likes, and what their good at.” ~A, Art 2 student
“I was really appreciative of the opportunity to get to pick what I wanted to do and how I would do it. Having little restrictions was really helpful in expanding my creativity and giving me more choices.” ~E, Art 2 student
“We had a variety of things to use and how to use them. I personally think that some of the projects shouldn’t have been so optional with such a variety of things. That the assignments shouldn’t have been so open to do what those of such wanted. Some should of been open to pick to choose their material used, but some also should of been told what to use and work with that and grow on that to know how to use it and get used to using it. When starting a project it took me awhile to pick what I wanted to do and what I wanted to use due to all the options we had. I am the type of person that I’m more comfortable to be told what to use and then go from there. So it was a challenge adjusting but I got it done. ” ~K, Art 1 student
“I liked the new way of teaching/learning you introduced because it gave me a lot of liberties. In my school (in Germany) we have more defaults and the pictures look similar. Here everybody can draw and interpret the theme his/her own way. That way everybody draws something different and unique.” ~D, Art 1 foreign exchange student
“I felt like it really effected me because if you wouldn’t have given us the choice to really be creative i wouldn’t really try and make something really boring just something easy. I feel like it honestly did help me because i am actually interested and feel like i could do something with my art one day in the future. I am honestly really happy i stayed in this class and you gave me freedom because without that i probably wouldn’t see how much i enjoy art and really see i can do a good job when i put actual effort into it.” ~C, Art 1 student
“I loved that we got to choose what our artwork was this year. It’s given me a lot more freedom and has actually made me care about my artwork because I’m doing what I want to do, instead of something that i have no connection to.” ~R, Art 2 student
“This was effective to me by, letting me use the things that i needed and allowing me to have the things i need to make my artwork be great, and make it to where i don’t just slap something on a piece of paper and turn it in. I can actually give it character.” ~Z, Art 1 student
“I remember last year in ceramics when we had to make a certain piece, but use the method our art teacher wanted us to use. This year, we have theme that our pieces must revolve around, and we may use which ever method of building we like. Personally, I love this new method our teacher has been using for this year. I feel this allows us to continue to use a method we enjoy and focus on improving our skills using that method. Instead of constantly changing which method we have to use and using a method some students might dislike more than others. For example, say we are assigned to make usable containers, one student could use the slab method while another might use coils. There could also be a student who wants to use his or her own method to build a container. They each can find a way they like to sculpt and continue to learn more and more about whatever method they choose. We also have the privilege to try and improve our skill in a method we are not yet comfortable with.” ~J, Intermediate ceramics student
Far and wide, almost all of my students (with the exception of beginning ceramics because I have not moved that class to choice…yet–it is coming next semester) really like having the choice. They like being able to experiment and try new things and start over with another medium when the first they chose isn’t working. They like being able to interpret themes as they wish.
I appreciate K's perspective as well. I know for some it is really hard to not be told how to do something, especially when you have been told how to do it for most of your young life. She is a fabulous artist who spends time thinking about how she will interpret things and trying new mediums. She works hard and has created some fabulous work. I think that one day she might change her mind about having such freedom because from my perspective, it is working for her.
For more reading my students’ responses, go here.
The last 2 weeks of the marking period are always hard to come up with something meaningful to do–especially in a ceramics class. It is not enough time to start a new project. Luckily though, we have been working so hard on building and learning basic building techniques that we can take a break from building and focus on surface treatments.
One thing we are focusing on is creating test tiles. Beginning students each cut 12 test tiles. The took 6 of the tiles and left them smooth. The other 6 were imprinted with a texture stamp. They labeled one set 1-6A and 1-6B.
Now that they are bisque fired, they are trying different glaze combos. They are laying 1-3 glazes on each tile. And, what they do to 1A, they do to 1B so after glaze firing they can see how the texture could possibly effect the glazes and how it breaks, if it breaks at all.
And, of course, they are taking notes on what colors they use and how they apply the glaze. They are taking notes not only for themselves, but for their peers as well. The plan with these test tiles is to have the class share tiles so they have many choices. Maybe someone else created something awesome. They will glaze their spheres from one of the group of test tiles.
Art 2: Painting and Drawing just completed their unit theme of "Pressure". It was an interesting take on the word. Students were introduced to block printing and to painting. However, almost every student grabbed onto block printing. Some chose it because they liked the carving aspect. Others thought it was a requirement. It wasn't. I hope they know that now. The works are well thought out and show various types of pressure.
The third theme Art 1 was given was "HOME". Students were challenged to look past the obvious image of their house and to really think what the word home could mean. I asked them to think of what types of things reminded them of their home--it could be a smell, a person, a thing. I asked them to consider what "home" could mean to someone else. It could be positive or negative.
The choices of media students were given expanded. We added paint into the mix. We learned about watercolor paints and watercolor pencils. We also learned about acrylic paints.
The results were a mixed bag of homes. It was a topic that was hard for some and uninteresting to others. But, the majority took off with the theme and hit a home run.
Intermediate and Advanced ceramic students are learning a new technique. They are learning about hump molds, and in particular soft molds created by using a rice-filled panty hose leg.
I found the idea on pinterest and I followed the link to here. I thought this type of mold would be a wonderful addition to our ceramics studio. They would provide much versatility and would prove to be much more inexpensive than plaster molds.
Today the boys filled the stocking with rice...40 pounds to be exact. Tomorrow they begin to lay slabs on them.
Mrs. Barnett, Art Teacher Extraordinaire. But really, the students create the awesomeness on this page.
The Living Painting Experiment
The living painting is a 36"X40" canvas that the students are free to work on and add to as they have extra paint or are finished with their work. The work will continue to evolve as students add and cover.