Tuesday, April 3, 2012

clay dinosaur imprints

i am not a ceramist.  but when you study for an art degree, you have to study all mediums, so i did take a ceramics class in college. it was a very intense, very time consuming class which left me with a great appreciation for ceramists. 

when carly came to me a couple of years ago, right away i was struck by her love of sculpting and amazing ability to render, especially small scale.  so i knew i had to refresh my memories of clay, and we had to give it a whirl.

carly working with modeling clay

obviously, being a painter, i don't have a kiln, so i knew i would need to find a clay that would either be fired in the oven or air dried.  i also wanted one that was as close to the clay i used in ceramics in college as possible.  after some trial and error, i finally found this ovencraft clay by laguna that we have been happy with.  and, over the past couple of years, carly has made some beautiful things with it.

"birds in a tree"   12 inches high   by carly age 10

working with carly has reignited my interest in clay.  there's something about working with clay that is just good for the soul.  therapeutic even.  so, when i came across this post about making clay dino fossils by the art education blog use your colored pencils, i knew i had to do this with my boys. we used the same oven bake clay that carly and i use, but, i will warn you, that it does not smell good when it is being fired in your oven and you have to make sure you are well ventilated.  if you don't want to have to deal with that, you could find an air dry clay at any arts and craft store.  even crayola makes one now.  the air dry clays that i have seen are usually white, but if that bothers you, your kids could always paint them with acrylics after they are dry. 

this project was so simple, yet so fun.  first we gathered up a couple plastic dinosaurs from our massive collection and a plastic tree from our army man collection.  my oldest son has declared his intention to be a paleontologist when he grows up since he was 2 years old, so luckily we had dinos of every shape and size, including these skeleton ones i had found at the dollar store a while back.  don't worry if you don't have this kind because the regular ones will work just fine. 

next we rolled out a slab of clay, making sure it was not too thin.  ours was probably a half inch thick.  also, don't worry about it being a perfect shape.  that's what will make it look like it was chipped out of the ground.  then we pressed the dinosaurs and tree leaves into the wet clay, making sure there was enough pressure to get a good print.  with the dinosaurs, we did an imprint on the side and then also imprints of the feet to see how the footprints were made.

here is the finished product, while it was still wet.

if you are going to fire it in the oven, you have to make sure it is dried thoroughly.  i bet i let this sit in my studio for a couple weeks before i fired it.  our imprints came out with pretty good contrast on their own.  but if you wanted to highlight the imprints, after it is dry, you could rub some white paint on the top with a sponge to highlight them, like they did here

 here ours is dry and fired.

and here it is displayed in their room.

i hope some of you will give this a try.  if you have any questions at all, feel free to contact me.

here's to trying new things...and for me, trying old things!


1 comment:

  1. I love the idea of creating dinosaur fossils. I'm going to share this with my teacher pals.


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