Pandaji's Blog

Art, research, education

Holiday gift and decoration workshop

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Paper porcelain clay before color

I had the pleasure of being invited to give a day-long workshop for 7-9 year old boys at the school. This time we planned to make holiday decorations and gifts. The boys were asked to bring pastry cutters. I had ordered paper porcelain for this workshop as it fires light because of the paper content and can also be fired solid. The students were given a demonstration of how to roll the clay very thinly between cloth, then how to inlay a pattern by rolling crocheted fabric or netting directly into the thin clay. After removing the fabric, they smoothed a piece of cling film across the surface and then created shapes using pastry cutters. The clay does not stick to the cutters, and even small letters were easy for them to cut out. I encouraged them to think carefully about how they were to hang, and if they were going to string more than one piece  together, because this meant considering where to place the hole for the string or wire, and how many holes. As they will string them at home and I did not propose any drawn plans for this, I will not get to see the ‘finished’ work. A half an hour before the lunch break, I suggested they gather all the pieces of leftover clay and make pebble candle holders as gifts, as they had concentrated hard on the decorations till then. The work was left to speed dry under a fan during lunch.

The boys spent the afternoon carefully painting the pieces. Some needed hair drying on one side before they could paint the other side. The patterns they had impressed into the clay using fabric were given a light wash of colour for enhancement. Other pieces were given a thicker more solid coat of colour.

The white angel with the yellow halo caused concern as the student had deliberately left it white, but the adults kept asking me if it was finished!! I explained it would take gold or any other colour paint once fired.

I really appreciate the parents and teacher that assist for the whole day, as they were invaluable helping with the drying process, cleaning up, and generally supporting the boys and I, so that the workshop went smoothly.

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Author: pandaji

Ceramic artist, educator

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