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.
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!
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!
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!
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.
We’ll also bring a portable pottery wheel and give a throwing demonstration and if you like you can try it out for yourselves.
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!
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.
Also, we will include a demonstration of pottery throwing on a potter’s wheel.
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.
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.
Make a sweet tiny hand or foot plaque. They won’t stay this way for long. Preserve those memories! This one is a large plaque of Dad’s hand!
Your toddler will have fun making some small decorations. To finish, place a picture of your child in the frame.
“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.”