Wednesday, September 14, 2011

National Arts in Education Week - September 14th - Making Mughs with The Clay Teacher

Today, we’re excited to be joined by Cindy Clarke, aka, the Clay Teacher, who provides clay workshops in schools and teaching materials with her husband Jim Willett at their website Cindy and Jim have over fifty years of clay experience between them as professional potters and instructors

Today, they’re sharing one of their favorite projects with us – making “Mughs” using clay coils to make a pot that is transformed by each student into a face.
For the lesson plan, click Making Mughs.

Cindy and Jim share our passion for clay in the classroom. According to Cindy, “We never tire of that moment when you give a ball of clay to a child and help them make something. For many it is their first real experience with three dimensional art and their imaginations soar as they break free from the flat page or computer screen. What we want to accomplish is to make every day Clay Day, where whenever the time is available, someone can take out the clay and make something, just as they would do with any other art creating medium.”

Clay has been a part of our lives since we have been people. Every culture has had clay as a part of their history, art and day to day life. Everyone in the world, in some form, uses clay. Give anyone a ball of clay and they will want to make something.  It is almost instinctual.

Over the years clay has gradually left the class room. It has become some mystery substance that is far too complex to work with. It is mud, just mud and should be on the hands of every student in every classroom as often as possible throughout their education. Working with clay is very different from all the other art forms.  Working in three dimensions gives students a completely different approach to art.  So much of their life in is two dimensions.  The computer screen, texting, drawing, painting, cut and paste, it is all only two dimensional. We often see students having a problem with a project and we will just turn it slightly it give them a different perspective.  They never thought of it as 3D, never thought to look at the other side.  

Art plays a very important role in a child’s development.  Art allows creative thinking to develop different ways of problem solving and it feeds the child’s ego to make something beautiful. So often art is seen as the one class that should be dropped as soon as funding is cut or space is limited.  Math and science are seen as the necessary and art as frivolous, as if creating and having fun is not an important part of learning and developing.   We are not all going to be mathematicians or scientists.  We are not all the same. Arts in education allows students to find out who they are and act on it.”

Cindy and Jim help make art happen in the classroom  with their DVD series available at There, you will find over twenty-five of our most popular projects in workshop format with over seven hours of instruction.

Thanks Cindy and Jim for sharing your ideas and experience with us today!

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