CLAY GARGOYLE – Form, Proportion, Exaggeration

Students use Crayola air-dry clay to create a gargoyle and paint it with acrylic paint in a way that simulates stone or concrete.

Required Time

180 Minutes

Grade Level

Grade 7 to Grade 10


Language Arts
Social Studies
Visual Arts



Crayola Air-Dry Clay - White Crayola Acrylic Paint - 6 Count Crayola Paintbrushes - 5 Count Crayola Sketchbooks - 1 per student Slip Paper Clips - 1 per student Masking Tape Pencils Placemats - 1 per student Paper Towels

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CLAY GARGOYLE – Form, Proportion, Exaggeration - Step One

Step One

  1. Make several thumbnail sketches focusing on exaggeration and proportions.
  2. Choose the drawing you like the best to work with.
  3. Draw each part of the gargoyle separately. 
CLAY GARGOYLE – Form, Proportion, Exaggeration - Step Two

Step Two

  1. Make all the parts of the gargoyle separately based on the drawings.
  2. Make a pin tool by taping an open paperclip to a pencil or pen.
  3. Use it to cut details into the clay.
CLAY GARGOYLE – Form, Proportion, Exaggeration - Step Three

Step Three

  1. Before joining clay pieces be sure to use the score and slip technique for a secure bond – score the ends of the clay using a toothbrush or the pin tool and then apply slip.
  2. Continue to join all the parts of the gargoyle using the score and slip technique.
CLAY GARGOYLE – Form, Proportion, Exaggeration - Step Four

Step Four

  1. Allow the clay to dry for about a week.
  2. If there are any parts that need to be supported during the drying time use some newspaper or cardboard to prop them up.
CLAY GARGOYLE – Form, Proportion, Exaggeration - Step Five

Step Five

  1. Once the clay is dry paint the entire gargoyle with black acrylic paint.
  2. Allow it to dry for about 15 minutes.
CLAY GARGOYLE – Form, Proportion, Exaggeration - Step Six

Step Six

  1. Dry brush light grey acrylic paint over the black allowing some of the black to show through.
    - This will give the gargoyle the look of stone or concrete.
  2. View the gargoyle with fresh eyes.
    - How does exaggeration add to the gargoyle's personality?
    - How do the proportions create emphasis?
    - How is the craftsmanship evident in the finished artwork?
    - What animals inspired your design?
    - What do you like best about your gargoyle? Why?

Learning Goals

      Students will be able to:

  • use hand building techniques to create a clay sculpture of a gargoyle;
  • use a variey of images to create an original gargoyle sculpture;
  • add details to communicate the gargoyle's personality;
  • demonstrate technical accomplishment and creative thinking; 
  • support their ideas with evidence found in the artworks.


Have students:

  • research gargoyles and their purpose;
  • work in small groups to create a graphic gargoyle story that reflects some of their research about their gargoyles; 
  • share their stories with the class;
  • create a display of the gargoyles along with their stories.


  1. Download images from the Internet, or find images in books or magazines of a variety of gargoyles. For example,
    Big Gargoyle
    Pennsylvania Gargoyle
    Notre Dame Gargoyle
    Lots of Gargoyles  
  2. Download and display the Proportion poster available on this website.


  1. View and discuss a variety of gargoyle images focussing on common characteristics. 
    - Discuss the exaggerated features and proportions of the gargoyles.
    - Notice how several animals may be morphed together to create one gargoyle.
  2. Make a list of animals that would work well as gargoyles.
  3. Introduce the challenge. 


The Challenge

  1. Create a clay sculpture of a gargoyle using a variety of handbuilding techniques.
  2. Add details to communicate your gargoyle's personality.
  3. Use drawings to help visualize the size and shape of your gargoyle.
  4. Demonstrate technical accomplishment and creativity.
  5. Support your ideas with evidence found in the artworks.

The Process

  1. Have students create a number of sketches showing several gargoyles.
  2. Instruct them to choose their favorite drawing to work with. Ask them to draw it in detail.
  3. Draw a side view, back view and front view of the chosen gargoyle.
  4. Deconstruct the gargoyle by drawing each body part separately – the body shape, arm shape, leg shape, tail and head details.
  5. Discuss why appendages must be supported while the clay is drying. (It is too heavy while wet to support itself. Once dry it will be strong and light.)
  6. Discuss the importance of using slip when attaching clay to clay.
  7. Demonstrate the process of first scoring the clay and then adding slip.
  8. Begin with the body shape, make the arms, legs, head and tail. 
  9. Remind students to score the edges and add slip each time they join pieces of clay. 
  10. Demonstrate how to prop up appendages that need to be supported during the drying process using newspaper or cardboard. 
  11. Remind students to show the personality of their gargoyle by adding details and textures.
  12. Guide students through the steps outlined in this lesson plan.
  13. Observe students as they work. 
  14. Provide individual assistance and encouragement.


  1. Once all the gargoyles are complete display them for a group discussion. Remind students of the challenge.
    Look closely at the gargoyles.
    - Choose one that interests you for some reason.
    - Share thoughts about the work.
  2. During the discussion include references to:
    exaggeration - how it has been used to create the gargoyle's personality
    - proportions - how size relationships create emphasis
    - technique – how craftsmanship and care in joining and finishing the work contributes to its effectiveness
  3. Discuss the animals that inspired each gargoyle.
  4. Discuss how the figures are the same and how they are different.


  1. Observe students as they work – thoughtful focus, discriminating, seeking more information, elaborating, experimenting.
  2. Observe students as they discuss their gargoyles – speaks with a clear voice, looks at audience while speaking, points to areas on the gargoyle, provides accurate information, answers questions from the audience effectively.
  3. Observe students as they listen – looks at presenter, asks effective questions, supports ideas with evidence found in the artwork.
  4. Use a checklist to track progress. (Downloads - GARGOYLE_tracking.pdf)
  5. Have students use the self-assessment form to evaluate their work. (Downloads - GARGOYLE_self-assessment.pdf)