SEATED CLAY FIGURE – Proportion, Texture, Space

Students use Crayola Air-Dry clay to create a seated figure adding details with watercolour paint.

Required Time

180 Minutes

Grade Level

Grade 3 to Grade 8

Subject

Language Arts
Mathematics
Visual Arts

Vocabulary

air dry clay detail form proportion score and slip texture

Materials

Crayola Air-Dry Clay - White Crayola Watercolour Paints - 24 Count Crayola Paint Brushes Corrugated Cardboard - 15.2 cm x 30.5 cm (6" x 12") - 1 per student Slip Bamboo Skewers - 1 per student Toothbrushes - 1 per several students Small Rolling Pins or Dowels Paper Towels Water Containers Clear Acrylic Varnish (optional)

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Steps

SEATED CLAY FIGURE – Proportion, Texture, Space - Step One

Step One

  1. Work on a piece of cardboard or other firm surface.
  2. Make a small ball of clay and flatten it with your fingers and the palm of your hand.
  3. Use a rolling pin or piece of dowel to roll it into a flat shape about 1.5 cm thick - this is called a slab
SEATED CLAY FIGURE – Proportion, Texture, Space - Step Two

Step Two

  1. Roll a small ball of clay for the figure to sit on.
SEATED CLAY FIGURE – Proportion, Texture, Space - Step Three

Step Three

  1. Use a bamboo skewer to scratch lines into the clay where you want to join the clay ball.
  2. This is called scoring the clay.  
SEATED CLAY FIGURE – Proportion, Texture, Space - Step Four

Step Four

  1. Paint slip on top of the score lines.
  2. This is called score and slip technique.
  3. Place the clay ball on top of the scored and slipped spot.
  4. Use the flat side of a bamboo skewer or the back of your fingernail to join the edges to the slab.
  5. Smooth the clay with your finger.
  6. Add a small amount of slip if needed.
SEATED CLAY FIGURE – Proportion, Texture, Space - Step Five

Step Five

  1. Roll a long thin coil of clay for the legs.
  2. As you roll the clay spread your fingers and apply gentle, even pressure to slowly stretch the clay.
SEATED CLAY FIGURE – Proportion, Texture, Space - Step Six

Step Six

  1. Score and slip the spot where you will join the coil to the clay ball.
  2. Place the coil on the prepared spot.
  3. Use the back of your fingernail to join the edges to the ball.
  4. Smooth the clay with your finger.
SEATED CLAY FIGURE – Proportion, Texture, Space - Step Seven

Step Seven

  1. Roll out a thin slab of clay for a skirt.
  2. Use a bamboo skewer to cut it into a skirt shape.
SEATED CLAY FIGURE – Proportion, Texture, Space - Step Eight

Step Eight

  1. Use the score and slip technique to attach the skirt on top of the legs.
  2. Roll a small cylinder of clay for the body.
  3. Use the score and slip technique to attach the body to the legs.
  4. Roll a short coil for the arms.
  5. Use the score and slip technique to attach it across the shoulders. 
SEATED CLAY FIGURE – Proportion, Texture, Space - Step Nine

Step Nine

  1. Roll a small ball for the head.
  2. Make sure the size is in proportion to the body.
  3. Use the score and slip technique to attach the head to the body. 
  4. Put some clay into a garlic press and squeeze it out.
  5. Attach it to the head for hair.
    - Thin pieces of clay such as this will probably break off when they dry.
    - If you don’t want this to happen make sure the thin bits are attached to each other or the body.
SEATED CLAY FIGURE – Proportion, Texture, Space - Step Ten

Step Ten

  1. Add details to give your figure a unique personality.
  2. Remember to use the score and slip technique every time you attach a piece of clay.
  3. Set the figure aside to dry for 1 week.
SEATED CLAY FIGURE – Proportion, Texture, Space - Step Eleven

Step Eleven

  1. Use watercolour paints to add a few colour details in a variety of places to move the viewer's eye around the sculpture.
  2. Paint the entire sculpture with clear acrylic varnish.

Learning Goals

Students will be able to:

  • create a clay sculpture of a seated figure;
  • demonstrate skillful handbuilding techniques;
  • add details to communicate the figure’s personality;
  • use proportion for a specific effect;
  • demonstrate technical accomplishment and creative thinking;
  • support their ideas with evidence found in the artworks.

Extensions

Have students:

  • work in small groups;
  • place their sculptures together as if they are real people at a gathering;
  • set the scene by adding a few embellishments, e.g., construction paper trees; 
  • write and record a dialogue sequence that can be played when the work is viewed;
  • share their work with the rest of the class.

Prepare

  1. Prior to this lesson you may want to have students explore clay techniques with the Score and Slip lesson on this website.
  2. Make a batch of slip - watery clay the consistency of a thick milkshake, enough for groups of students to share.
  3. You may want to create a sample to get familiar with the process.
  4. Teach or review the principle of proportion
    - the relationship of the size of one element when compared to another
    - correct proportions make the figure look realistic
    - exaggerated proportions can emphasize a meaning

    - proportions can be used for effect, e.g., to make the subject seem strong, weak, funny, etc.
  5. Download and display the Proportion poster available on this website.
  6. Download some images of seated figure sculptures from the Internet, for example,
    London
    Remojadas
    Mesoamerica​
    France
  7. Make sure you have a place to store the completed figures while they dry.
  8. Place students into small groups so they can share materials and tools.
  9. Photocopy the All About questionnaire - 1 per student. (Downloads - AllAbout.pdf)
  10. Provide time for students to imagine a character and to fill out the All About questionnaire in the role of that character.

Introduction

  1. View and discuss the images of seated sculptures.
    Notice the details in the sculptures.
    - How do the details and positioning of the figures add to our understanding of the work?
    What kind of personality do you think these people have?
    What do you see that makes you say that?

    - How has the artist used proportion to affect the way we view the figure? (Proportion - the relationship of the size of one element when compared to another.)
  2. Discuss the difference between a sculpture and a picture.
    Sculpture
    - 3-dimensional
    - meant to be seen from all sides
    - has mass and volume

    Painting
    - 2-dimensional
    - has length and width
    - no real depth just the illusion of depth
    - meant to be seen from the front
  3. Introduce the challenge.

Activities

The Challenge

  1. Create a clay sculpture of a seated figure.
  2. Demonstrate skillful handbuilding techniques.
  3. Add details to communicate the figure’s personality.
  4. Use proportion for a specific effect.
  5. Demonstrate technical accomplishment and creative thinking.
  6. Support your ideas with evidence found in the artworks.

The Process

  1. Make sure everyone understands the challenge.
  2. Establish success criteria with your students, for example,
    I know I am successful when I have:
    - created a seated figure
    - added details that show the figure's personality
    - used proportions for a specific effect
    - used my own ideas
    - used skillful handbuilding techniques
    - created a work that is in good condition
  3. Guide students through the steps outlined in this lesson plan.
  4. Remind students to score and add slip every time they join two pieces of clay.
  5. Part way though the lesson stop the class and remind them to look at the figure from all directions. 
  6. Observe students as they work. 
  7. Provide individual assistance and encouragement.

Sharing

  1. Have students work in groups.  
  2. Provide a piece of coloured fabric for each group to place on their tables.
  3. Ask groups to work together to arrange their sculptures as if they are at a gathering.
    Introduce each character to the others in your group by sharing some of the answers to the questionnaire. (Downloads - AllAbout.pdf)
    Think about their personalities and body language as you group them.
  4. Ask students to gather in front of the displays and to look at the works thoughtfully.
  5. Ask them to find an interesting thing about any 3 of them.
  6. Move from display to display discussing the sculptures at each spot.
  7. During the discussion include references to:
    Personality – how the artist has communicated ideas about the figure
    Technical accomplishment – carefully constructed work
    Creativity – unique qualities about each piece
    Conversations – what the figures might be saying
  8. Have students share some of the quiz information as comments are being made to confirm or expand on viewers' interpretations.

Assessment

  1. Observe students as they work – thoughtful focus, discriminating, seeking more information, elaborating, experimenting.
  2. Observe students as they discuss their artworks – speaks with a clear voice, looks at audience while speaking, points to details on the sculpture, 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 - SeatedFigure_tracking.pdf)
  5. Have students use the self-assessment form to evaluate their work. (Downloads - SeatedFigure_self-assessment.pdf)