Equipped with clay, carving tools and their imagination, eighth graders used advanced ceramic techniques to create their own original boxes as a culminating project to their studies in Jackie D’Arco’s art classes.
The students began the project by wedging the clay to rid it of any air bubbles before rolling out a slab, which is a flat piece of clay used for hand-building ceramic techniques. Having cut six squares from their slab of clay, they used the “score and slip” process to assemble their three-dimensional boxes. They also rolled coils to secure the seams and put the last slab on top to create a cube.
“To make their cube into a functional artwork, the students designed an opening to separate the lid from the bottom of the box,” D’Arco said. “They lightly etched their lid opening and cut through with a clay knife. They also sectored the lid’s seams with coils and used a damp sponge to smooth out the clay.”
Throughout the learning experience, the students used additive and subtractive relief, which is a combination of two- and three-dimensional methods, where separate pieces of clay are added on the side of the box and clay is subtracted from the surface with carving tools.
“What stands out the most to me is when students are starting to assemble their boxes and they notice their creation,” D’Arco said. “By designing their sculptures, they exhibit their creative voices through their art. My favorite moment is when students realize they created something out of a block of clay and they’re incredibly proud of themselves.”
After the students sculpted their boxes, they put them in the kiln and glazed them. D’Arco said she hopes her students learned that it takes time and practice to become comfortable manipulating the clay and creating their masterpieces.