Our final Cats themed project for Term 1 was these Clay Sgraffito Cats and Dogs (yes some children were well and truly over cats so I let them produce a dog instead)....
Sgraffito (in Italian "to scratch") is a decorating pottery technique produced by applying layers of colour or colour's (under glazes or coloured slips) to leather hard pottery and then scratching off parts of the layer(s) to create contrasting images, patterns and texture and reveal the clay colour underneath. I use this technique in my own artwork and it is often admired by the children and parents so I thought it was worth a go in class.
To ensure success I did help the children along with this project. I don't normally do this as I believe their work should be their own, however I realised in my first lesson that this project was not going to work (as I wanted) if I didn't step in and help. As you can see each piece has turned out very differently and has its own unique style so I believe they are the children's creations yet I did facilitate some of the process to ensure success. This does take time through so I wouldn't recommend this project for very large groups or if you are short on time. I actually happily put on an audio book in the studio and enjoyed doing this work.
First I produced the basic cat bodies using a piece of clay that I molded into a cylinder and pushed a wooden rod into it to hollow it out. These I prepared ahead of the lesson. I then passed these out to the children as a starting point.
It was great doing the ceramics straight after the paper mache as the children applied the knowledge of how to build a cat (ie adding ears and tails etc) to this project. They were given some extra clay and shown how to make ears and tails and attach them. They were allowed to squash gently around the neck area if they wanted a more defined neck. Once their cat or dog was complete and named they put it on the drying shelf and selected an underglaze colour.
Before the next lesson I let the clay dry to leather hard and applied the underglaze in the child's chosen colour.
Before we started I then explained the process of sgraffito and got them to design what they were going to scratch into their dog or cat on a piece of paper. When they were ready they started scratching away some of the glaze with small scratch tools (I just used the plastic scratch tools that come with scratch art kits). We used old paintbrushes for wiping away the crumbs.
Once the sgraffito was complete the cats and dogs were left to dry and bisque fired.
I then coated them with a layer of Zart's Clear Gloss. I decided to do this rather than clear glaze and another trip to the kiln since there had been a few small breakages and I didn't want to risk putting them all in the car again. If only I had my own kiln...wish...wish....
Check them out!