Painting Projects

Painting project

Your CLAYTIVITY projects will be a hard, off white ceramic after they have been fired and will look awesome after they have been painted. Here are a few painting tips!

  • hand print project
  • rock pool candle holder
  • insects on a leaf
  • Painting project
  • Squamish Estuary and Wetlands
  • Tap into your imagination!

There is so much to learn through painting a project. Painting a 3 dimensional piece of artwork give students the opportunity to practice their paintbrush skills, and to really focus on colour and mixing palettes to get the desired hue and tone.

But a good painting experience is not just about the artwork itself. The experience is just as important, if not more than the results! Sometimes the best atmosphere is created when students are all engaged in a focused art activity together.

Allow plenty of time for painting projects. It takes a lot of focus and concentration which may be best limited to half an hour at a time so plan to complete in possibly two or three sessions. Complete the base or background one session then come back later to paint other areas.

Don’t worry if mistakes happen or colour spreads out into wrong area. Just Allow the paint to completely dry then paint over.

Before you begin

Often new ideas form or change once the work is in progress and that’s OK but it’s a good idea to have a plan before you begin. Think about how you will divide your project up into different areas, what order you will paint them and which colours you will use on each area. Any markings or lines you did when you made the project will help.

Tools and Materials

Don’t forget to cover surfaces e.g. with newspaper for easy cleanup before you begin.


You can use almost any kind of paint but for best results and a plastic finish to the surface, use Acrylics. Also try using Glitter paints or metallic acrylic paints for special effects. Eg Metallic paints applied with a toothpick is an effective way to add detail such as gold trimmings, necklaces, earrings etc on figures. If the paint gets a little too thick or globby, wet the paintbrush in the water pot first to thin it out a little and make it easier to spread. Wipe any excess paint or water on the brush on some newspaper or the side of the palette.

Paint brushes etc

Provide a selection of paint brushes from fine to wide tipped. Marker pens may also be used e.g. for adding lines, dots and other details after the project has been painted. Toothpicks and round pin heads are also great for adding dots, eg buttons, patterns, texture, pupils of eyes. Join the dots to form lines.

Water Pots and palettes

Give each student a palette and a little water for adjusting the thickness of the paint and cleaning paint brushes. Large yogurt pot lids make excellent inexpensive palettes, and can be used over and over again. Simply wash or peel off the paint after it has dried.



Squeeze a small amount of two to three colours onto a palette or just one or two colours at a time. Let the artist choose! Two or three colours can be mixed to make any number of new variations. For example, try mixing blue and yellow, or green with yellow and blue to make different greens, or any colour with tiny amounts of black or white to make different shades.

Paint brushes

 Show students how to use a paintbrush just the right size for each area, clean their brushes after each colour application and remove excess water by wiping on newspaper. For best results, encourage everyone to empty and refill water pots frequently.


Paint the largest area first, often this is the base or background and smallest areas last, finishing with fine detail once all areas are covered and. Allow the paint to completely dry before changing colours and wash the paint brush well in clean water.

Encourage students to paint every bit of their project using a fine brush to get into tiny nooks and crannies. Pay attention to detail!

Have fun painting your projects!

Setting up for a CLAYTIVITY class

Here is what you need to set up. Don’t worry, it’s not as complicated as it looks!


  • Add value to the students’ experience with stories, background information or work related to the project.
  • Ask students to come in clothes that don’t mind getting a little clay on them!
  • Forewarn the janitorial staff – the floor may need a little extra attention afterwards!


  • Please provide name badges or label for each student.
  • Water to ‘glue’ components of clay together.

Instructor will provide clay, tooth picks, small water containers and mats for students’ use

instructor’s space

  • The instructor will need a sturdy table where the students can watch and follow instructions, with access to an electrical outlet, for short throwing demonstration on a portable wheel.

Instructor will cover this work area with a drop cloth.

a clean-up plan!!!

  • Place finished projects in trays provided by instructor,
  • Return toothpicks, water containers, unused clay to the instructor’s table
  • Please rinse working mats rinsed and place in one pile by sink.
  • Wipe down tables/work areas and wash hands thoroughly. Avoid throwing muddy clay/water down the drain! Use A bucket of water!
  • Consider assigning a mop and sweep up task.

I didn’t know cats can ride horses!

A clay date Workshop

Two imaginative young artists joined me for a clay-date in my ‘back yard’ studio for some part hand-building & part pottery wheel experience.

They learned how to make horses and I learned that cats sometimes like to ride or even go to sleep on horses, especially on cold wintry days. They also did an amazing job for their first time ever experience using a pottery wheel. I helped them each make a cup but ‘M’ had her own ideas and made her cup into a castle tower!

What happens next?

When the horse projects, castle tower and cup are completely dry, they will be fired in a kiln, then we are going to have another clay-date – we’ll paint the projects, make another project and/or practice throwing-skills on the wheel.

What happens to projects after they are made?

A CLAYTIVITY project cannot be taken home immediately after it has been made – it has to be dried out and bisque fired in a kiln first and this process can take up to three weeks before the project can be returned. 

Read on to learn a little more about this process..

It is very important to let the clay dry out thoroughly  (about 7 – 15 days) otherwise when it is heated up in the kiln, as the water turns to steam and expands rapidly the project will explode and shatter into hundreds of little pieces which will scatter over everything else in the kiln.  With thicker pieces or bigger lumps of clay, like the body of a snowman, you can’t always tell if it is completely dry as it may look dry on the surface but in the centre it may still be a little moist so it’s best to be patient and wait rather than risking a catastrophic mess happening inside the kiln!

When the projects are dry, they are carefully loaded into the kiln on ceramic shelves. When a shelf is full, another shelf is added on special shelf supports, like another floor level in a house, so more projects can be loaded onto that shelf. Then one more shelf can be added and filled before the lid is closed on the kiln and is ready to start firing.

A small cone is placed in the switch mechanism, the kiln lid is then closed and the kiln is switched on. Coils of electric elements heat up the kiln to about 1000 degrees centigrade which takes about 5 – 6 hours, depending on how many projects are in the kiln. At this temperature, particles of clay melt and fuse together changing into bisque, a material that is very hard when it has cooled down and the projects glow with red hot heat like the embers in a campfire. When the kiln reaches this temperature, a small cone which has been placed in the switch mechanism starts to melt causing the kiln to switch off.

After about 12 hours when the kiln has cooled down the lid is opened and the kiln is unloaded. The projects are no longer clay projects but are now bisque, very hard and white with a beautiful surface. 

The projects are wrapped in newspaper and boxed up, ready for delivery or collection but they are not finished yet – there is one more thing to do and that is usually up to the client. Paint them with acrylic colours and for the final touch finish with an acrylic gloss or glitter paint and we are sure you will be delighted with your project!

Ready for firing – Five Fabulous Fantasy Animals

Five Fabulous Fantasy animals handmade in CLAYTIVITY ‘s unique outdoor studio (my back yard) by Squamish artists aged 4, 7, 8, 21 and 55, were loaded into the kiln yesterday and are being fired today ready for pickup tomorrow.

It’s been a tad longer than three weeks but hoping my clients will forgive me – I wanted to wait for more projects to fill the kiln.

Creating demands a lot of concentration, especially for younger children. Extra kudos go to these guys for getting here by bicycle. They definitely deserved the chocolate ice cream treats!

Projects for the Fall

Girls Night

Girls Night Out

It’s important for our wellbeing and sanity to spend some time with our friends to cheer us up, make us laugh and sometimes comfort us when we are down.

But taking a break from the relentless demands of life often requires a bit of artful planning!
You will need to find a day, invite your friends over, organize the drinks and treats but we’ll take care of everything else!

take a break
take a break
invite your friends over
invite your friends over

We’ll provide the clay and everything you will need for CLAYTIVITY, walk you through the process of making a complete project out of clay step by step, within 1 – 2 hours.
candle holder
candle holder
we'll walk you through the process of making a complete project out of clay
we’ll walk you through the process of making a complete project out of clay

We’ll also bring a portable pottery wheel and give a throwing demonstration and if you like you can try it out for yourselves.
you can invite your friends round again
you can invite your friends round again
paint and take them home!
paint and take them home!

And afterwards, we’ll take the projects away, fire them in our Kiln and return to you within 3 weeks.
Then you can invite your friends round again to paint and take them home!

Projects for groups of Mummies, Daddies, Carers, Babies and Toddlers

projects for mummies and daddies

demonstration using a potters wheel

Be creative with your baby or toddler with CLAYTIVITY! Invite CLAYTIVITY to join your group and we will guide you through the fun process of making a complete project with step by step instructions working side by side with your little one/s.

making a cup

Also, we will include a demonstration of pottery throwing on a potter’s wheel.

ready to begin a project

Either help your child or let them help you. It is not unusual for young children to have short attention spans (!) and not every little one takes to clay like goslings to water. But that’s OK, there is no pressure to make anyone get more involved than they feel comfortable with. Whether it’s handling little bits of clay, making small decorations or having their hand or foot pressed into the clay, it’s all about enjoying the moment with family and friends and making our first experience of working with clay a good one.

finished the work now CLAYTIVITY will do the rest

Let your toddler help you (or help them) flatten the clay or roll a piece of clay into a coil to make one of these projects, handle some small pieces of clay to make a few small decorations and ‘glue’ them on to the project by making them all shiny and wet with a finger of water.

thumb nail of pdf link
CLAYTIVITY Projects for groups of mums, dads, carers, babies and toddlers

Story of the Two Headed Serpent and the Chief

Students proudly holding their projects

“It was a massive two-headed serpent that once roamed through the Squamish territory, its horrible shrieks frightening the people in the village of Stá7mes, Squamish. Xwechtáal, a young warrior, was tasked with killing the serpent. He pursued it up Siyám Smánit where it left a striking black streak, now known as the Black Dyke. For four years, Xwechtáal pursued the serpent until he was able to slay it as it rested in a lake.”

Author: Rebecca Duncan

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