Purple Twig- Art Exploration for kids. A mom run small business in Los Angeles. Stop by to see the trials and tribulations.

Friday, May 31, 2013

Clay with Children

We use clay a lot here at the Purple Twig. It's a fantastic material that is suitable for most ages from 2 up to adults. It's easy to manipulate for little hands and as the child grows they can make objects that are more and more articulated. When using clay with ages 2 and 3 we do sometimes fire the object but mostly we use it as a base for so many other materials. We make ..........

fairy houses using seed pods and pine cones and a lot of glitter and we make.....

bird's nests using sticks, fabric, string, beads and bird seed and we make....

bear caves and forests and underwater worlds. 

Sometimes we get ambitious and do projects we fire in the kiln. We made these mobiles with ages 2 and 3. This is a great project because the kids can manipulate the clay in a few ways and watch the transformation from the soft wet clay to actually being fired. 

The kids made balls out of the clay. I then gave them doilies that I found at flea markets. They smash the doily onto the ball of clay with a flat wooden spoon to make great textures. The result is these beautiful little medallions.

 I fired the medallions and then the kids glazed them. I did these with a parent and me class and as you might have suspected the parents had a pretty great time doing some glazing as well. It is such a great collaborative project. 

You can make so many things with clay. We make a ceramics project in most of our classes no matter the age.  It's a material that fits into any subject. We use both a white and a terra-cotta, which are both low fire clays and we use both underglazes and over glazes.  These low fire glazes are perfect for kids because they are so bright and there are so many colors.

These whimsical pinch bowls were made by a 6 year old. It's a process where you paint the underglaze onto the bowl when it is leather hard and then draw into it. That way the clay underneath shows. We then fire them, clear glaze them and fire them again. 

Flat slab works are great to start with that way you know there won't be air bubbles caught inside and the kids can roll it our with a rolling pin. This bird wall tile is the same process of drawing into the underglazed clay made by a 6 year old.

In our Animals in Art class we made these carrier pigeons that hold secret messages. This was done with over glaze. I gave them slabs to roll out and then they cut their pigeons out of the clay. This one was made by a 7 year old.

You can get really complex with the flat works like with these fairytale wall tiles. The kids can really get into adding details and drawing textures. These are made by a 6 year old. When we make more 3-dimensional pieces we use newspaper to hold the shape while it dries. These beauties are adobe inspired bird feeders made in our Gimme Shelter class by ages 5-7. 



  1. can you tell us what kind of clay you are using? brand name and other specifics? thank you, SA

  2. oh, and what cone are you firing in your kiln for the clay?

    1. Hi Susan,
      We use two kinds of clay with our kids depending on the projects. We use a low-fire white and a terra-cotta red clay with grog both from Laguna Clay. I think you can get both at Blick Art. Most of these projects are with the red clay. For the peach color face colored clay on the girl mask and for the unfired clay projects I use Soldate 60 which you can also get at Blick Art. We fire to cone 06.
      I do not like the Amaco clays. They are usually way too wet.
      I hope I answered your question. Please let me know if you need more info. Are you a teacher? Do you have a kiln?