Clay Art Project Ideas

Instructor: Christopher Muscato

Chris has a master's degree in history and teaches at the University of Northern Colorado.

These project ideas can provide options for getting your students working with clay and thinking about this medium in new ways. Clay art projects are interactive, engaging, and fun for any classroom.

Clay Art Projects

Clay is a versatile medium. Working in clay improves abstract thinking and helps students conceptualize 3-dimensional shapes. It lets students work with their hands and adds a tactile component to design. It can be equally engaging for students in a basic classroom as those in advanced ceramics. These project ideas will give you some options for getting your students working with clay. These projects are designed to be adaptable to different grade and skill levels, although doing so may require some minor modifications. Perhaps the biggest thing to consider is the type of clay and the hardening process that will be used. For simpler projects, all of these ideas can be completed using air dry clay that is painted with acrylic or tempera (watercolor is also an option but may require a little more skill). However, all of these projects can also be completed by kiln firing and glazing stoneware (or other) clays if your class is operating at a more advanced level. Both options are valid, but again please remember that this may require some modifications.

Votive Holder

For this project, students are going to make a simple open cylinder to be placed around an LED votive candle. Provide students with clay and have them roll out a rectangle. Students will work the clay or cut it into the desired thickness and length. It should be long enough to be rolled around a rolling pin with both ends touching. Provide students with tools to punch holes of different sizes in their clay, reminding them that too many holes will compromise the stability of the structure. If you don't have clay hole punches, straws, pens, and drill bits are easy substitutes. You can also provide texturing tools for students to add texture to the clay. Again, if you don't have formal texturing tools, easy substitutes can be found in pie crust tools, the netting that produce is often sold in, lace, tracing wheels, old buttons, bottle caps, or many other household items.

When the clay has been textured and the holes punched, students will use a rolling pin to help shape the clay into a cylinder. Let it dry, set it upright, and place LED votive inside.

  • Materials: Clay, rolling pins, cutting wire or precision craft knives, LED votive candles, hole-punching and texturing tools, paints or glazes as desired

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