Friday, April 30, 2010

Santa Barbara Mission Clay Project

Third and Fourth Grade students in California study Missions. We are lucky to have the beautiful Santa Barbara Mission right in our city. Here is an easy project that I incorporated into my ceramics unit but you could easily do the same project with air dry clay and acrylic or even tempera paints.

  • Start with a rectangular slab of clay. I don't measure but the size is approximately 6" x 4" x 1" thick.
  • Put a tray of clay tools on the table: small plastic knives, plastic credit cards (from mailers), small wooden dowels, etc.
  • Using the credit card, cut out two triangles from the top of the slab. (see diagram)
  • The resulting shape will create the two side columns.
  • Make a ball with some clay. Cut in half with the credit card. Place the two halves on top of the columns and attach using proper ceramic techniques (scratch both surfaces with the dowel and add a tiny bit of water).

  • Using the tools, etch in bricks, windows, make columns and doors. refer to the pictures for ideas.
  • Add a cross on the roof. I like to make a hole in the roof and "drop" the cross into the hole to secure. I have to warn you though...if anything falls off with this project, it's definitely the cross!

  • Allow to dry completely. if your mission is more than 1/2" thick, stick a few large pencils up through the bottom so that the clay can expand. If using air dry clay, this step is not necessary.
  • Don't forget to scratch in names!
  • Once dry (about 10 days), fire in kiln according to clay specifications (I use Laguna Clay cone fire 6).
Set out the underglazes (or acrylic paints for non-firing clay) and let the children paint a simple color palette of orange, red, brown and black. For white, don't paint at all. The clay is a natural white once it is fired.
  • After the underglaze, dip the pieces into a glaze of your choice. I sue Duncan Dipping glaze because it's so easy but you may have a brush on glaze. Use whatever works. If you are using air dry clay and acrylics, there is no need for a glaze. This is what it looks like when the purple glaze dries. The kids freak out here...
  • Fire at cone 4.


Becca Ruth said...

Have you ever heard of Danielle McDaniel in Nashville, TN? She is known as THe Clay Lady. I use her materials and one time firing method and I love it! Check her out

Patty Palmer said...

Thanks for the recommendation! I'll check her out.

Unknown said...

Hi Deep Space,
I LOVE this project and have never seen anything like it before. Will try it as soon as I can. Thanks so much for the idea!

Tami said...

Wow! these look really Great!!
You inspired me to start my Blog!
and you keep inspiring all of us!!
Thanks Bunches
Tami Smith

Z-Kids said...

Enjoying your blog! Glad I found it!
- AZ

Phyl said...

Hi Patty! I want to pass on to all your readers that I have started my own art teacher blog, called There's a Dragon in My Art Room. It's just getting off the ground, but I'd love comments, critiques, advice, etc. You can find my blog at:

K-Sue said...

Beautiful! I noticed this year that I did lots of 2-dimensional art. I think next year I want to do some sculptural projects with our children. This one looks like a winner. Thank you for sharing.

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