KIDS ART PROJECTS – CREATIVE CLAY CRITTERS – Successful and satisfying!
Oh, clay critters, gotta love em! What is an adaptable project for many ages and skills? CLAY CRITTERS! You can adapt this project to so many themes, and do it as a birthday party for preschoolers, or at a big fair where not only kids but teens and adults can be enticed to indulge in clay play. We’ve done this many time with crowds of folks. Learn my HOT TIPS FOR SUCCESS here!
HOT CLAY TIPS: My favorite clay: Vashon clay (from Seattle Pottery), preferably more than one color. Vashon clay dries hard in the air and doesn’t have to be baked. It’s not real expensive, and its real.
Use the nifty clay wires with handles for slicing clay…cut some clay into slices ahead of time if you are dealing with crowds and hot weather. Put sliced clay in small bucket covered by a damp towel to keep clay from drying out.
HOT TIP ABOUT Other Materials: This depends on your Critter Theme. For example, “Clay Sea Critters” can use dried split peas as scales on a mermaid tail. “Bug Eyed Monsters” are served well by navy beans, kidney beans. Straw makes great whiskers. Fake fur. Pebbles. Twigs. Shells. Pine cones. Googly eyes. Give people lots of choices.
You also need a few pens, paper towels/small lunch bags, materials containers, sponges, water bucket.
Tools TIPS: I like plain tools, because the kids get to be more creative. The Basics: Kid sized rolling pins, popsicle sticks, real clay tools (easy to lose in big crowds tho), toothpicks, dull kitchen knives.
Critter size: Artistic freedom is the key phrase! If you make samples that are tiny, kids tend to make tiny critters. How much clay you hand to the person will guide the size. If you have a pile of oyster shells and the critter will rest in a shell, that determines size.
Teaching as you go: It helps to give some very basic simple instruction for the younger kids. Clue people in that the clay shrinks a little as it dries, so they need to smooth the clay over from the leg to the body, lest the critter fall apart when its dry. Rolling their clay into balls is a good start – a bigger ball to shape into a body, smaller balls for head, arms and legs.
HOT TIP ABOUT INSPIRATION: there is no wrong way to do clay critters. Just get the kids messing with the clay, and watch them go…if you have some basic samples made, they can be inspired!
HOT TIP ON PRE-PREP: Ahead of time: set up – cover the tables with plastic table cloths. I like the rolls of plastic sheeting that painters use, cut to size. Put your materials in many little containers: yogurt cups, or the paper trays that hold hot dogs. Have samples made.
HOT CLEANING UP TIP: Do it constantly: As you go along, especially at busy fairs- keep cleaning up the tables. Sort materials back into their trays. Get little clay leftovers cleaned up, so there is work space for the next kids. Have jars to hold the tools. If you are very organized, it makes tools and materials easily available for creation. If the work tables get trashed, it’s hard for kids to do their art.
WATER – At bigger events – DON’T have lots of water around! Have a bucket of water behind the tables for staff to use to with sponges for wiping tables, but if kids start working with wet clay, what messes you have to clean up. Oi!
Saving the Critters-at fairs, kids are encouraged to leave their critter behind to dry, to be picked up before they leave. Have an extra table set up- the Drying/Exhibit Table. Give them a paper towel, or small lunch bag, write their name on it so they can find it later to take home.
HOTTEST TIP: smile, have fun! You are awakening people to their own creativity!
Making Clay Critters can lead to a lifetime of clay creating!
About Melinda Wallis, “Kids Art Goddess” –
For 20 years, we’ve been doing art with crowds at fairs, festivals, malls, camps, parties library programs, and schools. Since 1989, I’ve been inventing creative projects for kids, to give them the thrill of using materials that they often don’t get their hands on otherwise! REAL clay and clay tools, colored tumbled glass bits, leather, yards of windsock fabric, outdated phone equipment to make robots with… tons of interesting recycled stuff! Doing art with crowds is a FINE art in itself, and HAVE ART WE’LL TRAVEL knows how to do it! We are the BEST! http://www.bestartprojectsforkids.com