clay! Clay!! CLAY!!!

“Good morning!” Wavy Gravy adjusted the microphone. “What we have in mind is breakfast in bed for 400,000.”

There is no better way to date oneself than to quote something from the epic event that was Woodstock. But substitute in the word “clay” for “breakfast” and that’s the phrase that kept running through my mind as all of my classes created clay pieces.


When we work with clay it takes over the art room. The protective cloth stays on the tables until all classes have had a chance to work with clay. The clay pieces begin to fill the racks of the cart.

Clay racks

As soon as the kids have made their clay, the questions start every class thereafter, “Are we painting our clay today?”. Every class, every day. Painting (glazing) also takes over the art room for a couple of days. I smartened up this year and tried something new (reflection/action plan). In the past, the glazes would be in the distribution area and the kids would come up, one table at a time, to select the colors they wanted to use. I use Mayco Stroke and Coat, which is not cheap, but does the job very nicely with young kids. I have a nice array of colors, many subtle hues and shades of every color. But all the decision making about which color to choose took forever. The table-by-table line-up would take nearly 20 minutes, start-to-finish. Add to that 10 minutes of clean up time and waiting to get to sinks and suddenly the 50 minute block is over.

This year, I purchased 8 sets of 12 colors: 3 primaries, 3 neutrals, and 6 secondaries. I made up 8 boxes of palettes and brushes and set one of each of the boxes in 8 strategic sharing places on the tables. With these 12 colors, students can mix whatever colors they choose.

12 glazes

Palette box 1

As you can see, I labeled the boxes so the clean up crew knew where to put the clean brushes and glazes.

Glaze label 1

Glaze label 2

Palette label

The first three kids that were finished glazing became the clean-up crew. They were each stationed at a sink (I have three) and stood there washing the palettes that the students brought up to them as they finished. Meanwhile, back at the tables, the seated students neatened up the glaze boxes and put their dirty paintbrushes in large yogurt containers filled with water to soak. The brushes were washed by the clean up crew after all the palettes were clean. Well, as clean as they get – I use the stained palettes and oldest brushes for glazing. This new clean up process cut down on traffic in the room, was calm and hugely successful. In fact, I LOVE this new process!

Glazed Clay

Above are some of the glazed pieces awaiting their second firing. To see some of the completed clay pieces, go to the Mona Lisa Lives Here Facebook page (you don’t have to have an account) and click on the Clay Projects album. Tomorrow is my last day with this term’s classes before getting all new groups on Wednesday. I’m happy they have a nice clay piece to bring home….

Smiley clay

Leave a Reply