Tuesday, September 6, 2011

A Summer of Building Houses of Clay

With Labor Day yesterday in the U.S., the official end of summer has arrived and it's time to think about fall, school and a change in the weather. My summer classes resulted in some fantastic pieces by kids of all ages. One project that really caught their imagination was houses. Not surprising, since I’m a huge fan of making houses as you saw last week in the Autumn issue of Rhythm of the Home.
Here are a few of the fanciful houses the kids made with me this summer. You can see the variety of techniques we use to make houses. This "duplex" was made by rolling a slab and wrapping it into a cylinder for the main house structure and then creating another slab for the roof. This project is ideal for the youngest kids trying their hands at clay.
Another method is a house made of coils that can be blended together for the main structure. This process takes a little more patience but the results are worth the effort. Sometime, kids will draw lines across the coils to suggest the appearance of bricks instead of blending the coils. It’s another great way to encourage experimentation with textures and patterns.
The process I’ve always enjoyed for making the most intricate house is building them stone by stone with balls of clay. Older kids love the looks of the stone houses and how they are able to add on to the structures easily.
The other part of making houses that really captures the imaginations of my students is the landscape and creatures around the house. 
One of their favorite additions is water – in the form of a moat or river around the house. We use marbles which melt to a glassy, translucent pool when the pieces are fired. Mixing green, blue and clear marbles creates a wonderful illusion of water.
Altogether, making houses made for a summer time of fun. Have you ever made a house from clay? How did you do it? 

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