Clay Day at the Folk Art Center

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We went to Clay Day at the Folk Art Center this past weekend. They had many, many craft demonstrations, mostly by various pottery artists (Maia was fascinated by the wheel throwing), but also some glass blowing.

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There was also a hands-on kids table, which was half the reason we went. They gave the children slabs of clay to work with and let them use a variety of tools to manipulate the clay, including straws, chopsticks, plastic forks and knives, garlic presses, popsicle sticks, and a variety of nature items. I was impressed by how they just let each child do their own thing and how the project and materials lent themselves to a wide range of ages. The younger kids, like Maia, made designs in their slabs. The older kids turned theirs into bowls or vases or figures. And they were all very absorbed in their work.

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Makes me think it's about time we got some clay to use at home. Have any of you used clay with your kids? Any tips or ideas? I'm not even sure where to buy it.

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18 Comments

  • Reply
    Kate
    June 9, 2009 at 5:10 am

    Check out clayworld.com. It’s where I’ve found clay for my kids. They have many different types to choose from; I have always chosen the most affordable ones. I knew clay would be fun with kids, but I had no idea it could be so cheap!

  • Reply
    Faige
    June 9, 2009 at 9:12 am

    Grey clay is wonderful. When you purchase it, it comes in a big gray slab. I think that’s when you buy the 5 lb package. It’s very important to let the children spend alot of time just using it and learning its properties before they actually make anything with it. The way to cut it is with a long pieces of string or yarn pulled between your hands.
    I have a picture of this in an old post I did for a blog that I recently started up again where you can see how to cut the gray clay. .http://educationalartsandcrafts.com/blog/?p=95
    (I would put this link into a piece of text but don’t know how)
    When you store the clay you should have the children roll their clay into pieces the size of an orange or grapefruit, press a hole with their thumb into the ball, put in a drop of water into the hole and then store these balls in a closed plastic container.
    When they want to play with the clay again they just take them out of the container ready to use.

  • Reply
    Jeannine
    June 9, 2009 at 10:26 am

    My dad actually has walking sticks that he carved in the Folk Art Center.

  • Reply
    The Artful Parent
    June 9, 2009 at 9:36 am

    Thanks Kate! I just looked at Clayworld and there are a million types of clay to choose from. What do you buy for your kids?

  • Reply
    The Artful Parent
    June 9, 2009 at 9:45 am

    Faige – What a wonderful blog post about clay! Thanks so much for sharing your link.

  • Reply
    Hamilton Doula
    June 9, 2009 at 5:02 pm

    I put packs of grey clay I got from the dollar store in the boys’ easter baskets this year but haven’t got it out to play with yet. This post and Faige’s has inspired me to get it out and let the boys go wild.
    My 6yo and I did get out some Sculpey today and I made leaf print pendants while my son made robot sculptures (which I then overbaked till all the neon colours turned dark brown!).

  • Reply
    molly
    June 9, 2009 at 5:05 pm

    Stella just tooka a clay class at Odessy Center for Ceramic arts and had a blast! The garlic press was her favorite! The one thing to remember is to not get the clay in your drain or it can clog.

  • Reply
    Melody
    June 9, 2009 at 5:07 pm

    I buy mine through Discount School Supply. That’s where I order just about all the art supplies for my daycare so its convenient.

  • Reply
    Faige
    June 9, 2009 at 5:33 pm

    What Molly said about not letting the clay in your drain is crucial. You can really ruin your plumbing that way. The clay hardens and can always be reconstituted (so if you have old hardened clay don’t throw it out) but if its in your drain and is not wet for too long, it will harden into a rock like substance.

  • Reply
    Kandyce
    June 9, 2009 at 5:48 pm

    I use to teach kids clay classes in my home for my homeschooling group. I love the site that Faige recomended. The only things I would add is that the wire clay cutter can be sharp, so I always had the children make their own clay cutters with yarn and wooden craft sticks. And the second thing is that canvas is a wonderful surface to work on. The oil in the canvas duck helps to keep the clay from sticking which can be frustrating to little ones. I just bought enough to cover my table from Walmart and would tape the edges with duck tape.

  • Reply
    andrea
    June 9, 2009 at 7:10 pm

    we just get the modeling clay that doesn’t dry and you just reuse over and over. i got some at a local natural toy store, i tried to pick some more up in joanne’s today as well. i gave my boys a box of toothpicks to go with the clay and they are happy for a LONG time with this.

  • Reply
    The Artful Parent
    June 9, 2009 at 5:21 pm

    They have so many cool handmade things there! I love it.

  • Reply
    The Artful Parent
    June 9, 2009 at 5:23 pm

    You’ll have to tell me more about the clay class. Sounds great.

  • Reply
    The Artful Parent
    June 9, 2009 at 5:25 pm

    I order our art supplies from there too. I just looked up the clay and it looks like you have to buy 25 lbs — sounds like more than we’d need. Better for a classroom or daycare probably. Or is 25 lbs of clay not really that much? I guess it’s heavy stuff.

  • Reply
    The Artful Parent
    June 9, 2009 at 5:25 pm

    Yay! Let them go wild. :)

  • Reply
    Kayte
    June 12, 2009 at 11:06 am

    After reading about the preschools in Reggio Emilia Italy I have also been on a search to find out incorporate clay into our art. I googled a bit and then came across Magic Mud — a natural clay developed by a teacher. I just ordered a 3lb block and a board. The manufacturer’s website has lots of good information (including an article on why to use the board)
    http://k-play.com/resources.html
    I also requested these book through Interlibrary Loan
    http://www.amazon.com/Children-Sculpture-Cathy-Weisman-Topal/dp/0871921456/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8s=booksqid=1244833373sr=8-1
    http://www.amazon.com/Poking-Pinching-Pretending-Documenting-Explorations/dp/1929610483/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8s=booksqid=1244833405sr=1-1
    Not sure if either book is good, but will let you know if one is outstanding.
    Also most of the Reggio experiences I have read they leave the clay out all the time, just covered with a damp cloth. I am trying to work on the logistics of this (even though we have a dedicated art room). Are you planning to leave it out or have it accessible as it’s requested?

  • Reply
    Jessica
    June 18, 2009 at 7:10 pm

    Just found your blog–very enjoyable! I’ve been meaning to use clay with my son for a while now…I’m glad I found this post (and everyone’s comments!)

  • Reply
    Sterling Magnificent
    June 19, 2009 at 6:48 pm

    Hi, Great site loved this information.Just wanted to say thanks for The Read.I have booked marked this page so I can come back again. Thanks

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