Suggestions? - I'm conflicted

I am working on ordering my supply list of the year (I know it seems late, but I have all sorts of stuff in my room to use up).  I am having issues trying to weigh out what to order and what to pass on when it comes to specialty items like printmaking, clay, glazes, metal tooling and such.

In a perfect world I would do all these special projects with every kid every year - however, the budget of less than $2.oo per kid just isn't going to stretch that far.

Here is my priority:
1) Clay
2) everything else.

I think it is important to do clay each and every year because kids love it, it lasts FOREVER, and it really is unique.  My issue is that clay is expensive, but manageable -- my real issue comes down to glazes.  I feel like glazing is almost as important to the clay experience as actually building with the clay.  Trusting that your pale chalky glaze will turn into bright shinny colors is almost magical. 

So here is my thought/issue or rather my options as I see them:

1) Do clay and glazes like normal and forgo any printmaking, metal tooling.
2) Do traditional clay for most classes, do some sculpey clay beads for another, few glazes, and printmaking or metal tooling.
3) Do clay but no glazes this year and get printmaking, metal tooling, and some paint for the clay.

I should note that when I talk about printmaking I want to get some cutting blocks and really do printmaking - not just Styrofoam plates.  While it works great for younger kids, it doesn't really capture the awesomeness of printmaking. 

My questions:
1) Is it necessary to use clay that is fired for all grades every year or is it acceptable to do a clay project with a different type of clay like sculpey?

2) Are my students missing out on the full clay experience if we paint their clay instead of glazing?

3) Is it better to keep the full experience of clay with glaze if it means other art options are not explored?

What do some of you do with a limited budget and the desire to give kids a well rounded, explored art base?


Mr. E said...

Fire clay yes....glazes no. The experience of creating in clay is important..and hard to truly get using any other modeling material. Now glazes are cool..but expensive..and the kids paint it on like paint..right? Well...paint paints on like paint(and is much cheaper!) Budget cuts make us do things we may not want to do..but prioritizing the students experiences will help.

Deaf Art Teacher said...

For printmaking you can try various types of soft kut or alternative linocut versions. I buy the classkits then cut the pieces in half to spread out the items. You can also make stop plates yourself using wood scraps and wood glue.

Other supplies that I tend to run of quickly like sharpies, glue sticks, etc... I make a wish list and send an email school wide, or post it on a "giving tree" during the school's open house. I also use Artsonia website to do some fundraising for more supplies. You can also go to recycling centers and science museums or food stores to get more materials.

As for ceramics - I am fortunate to have an accountant in our school who is a potter and he donated a few items.

I do not teach ceramics to all grades. Just one unit for a few grades. I do offer a ceramics class at the high school level but you could include a class fee.

Good luck!

Jen Carlisle said...

I also have a small budget so glazes for 300 kids is out... I budget glaze for my after school art class only. We do talk about glaze and my students know that if they take art in 7th grade they will get to use the magical, special glaze. It gives them something to look forward to. I varnish my fav. 5th and 6th grade pieces that are painted with tempera before art shows.

Jessica Young said...

I think that glazing clay is a very important part of the clay experience, but it doesn't have to happen every year (it just has to happen at least once during elementary school). Things like mugs (I do them with my 6th graders--check out this post on it: http://missyoungsartroom.blogspot.com/2012/05/6th-grade-ceramic-mugs.html) need glaze. But, there are some things that might actually look better with a matte surface. I would recommend coming up with one or two ideas that do not require glaze, and explain to the kids, "since _____ won't look right shiny, we're going to paint them. Also, since you can mix paints, you'll have a wider array of color choices!" Give the students a reason for painting instead of glazing (no one wants to hear "we're poor so we're doing something cheap"). Also, using sculpey clay is a very valuable lesson as well; the kids are learning about something they could use on their own. I love it when my students show me how they took a lesson in the classroom farther at home, and made something amazing. That could happen with sculpey, but no one has a kiln in their house.

Good luck! I have similar budget problems, but I'm going to ask for an art fee added to the textbook fee next year. We have a science fee for 6th grade, so we also need an art fee in my opinion!

Laughlin said...

It is always so hard with those specialty supplies! I totally empathize with you.
It was cool when I switched to a Choice Based classroom; I no longer needed to worry about getting class-sets of supplies, because students are all working on different things. I can get a lot of different stuff in smaller quantities and really stretch my budget.

Katie Morris said...

I have around $1.50 per student. Every grade gets one clay project each year. We don't have a kiln and while I wish we did, I figure the construction is the most important part. The rest of my budget pretty much goes to paper, paint, and a couple other small items.

Anonymous said...

I have $0.00 budget at one school (10 classes, 25-30 students each, seen multiple times each week) and $200 at the second (23 classes, 24-32 students each, ditto). I'm stressing for lack of drawing paper (any paper, actually) right now to keep things going and am operating chiefly on materials I purchased from my paycheck or cobbled together from previous years. Glaze is definitely not a consideration for me.

When I see some of the art ed blogs going on and on about this cool material and that (liquid watercolors, watercolor paper, paint, sharpies, collage papers, air dry clay, printmaking tools...), I just want to cry. Art fees are out of the question as I teach in a very low income area.

This is how I have been teaching for the past ten years. It is getting old and very, very stressful.

ArtMuse said...

Do 1 clay project per grade per year. I don't think glaze is so important that you should do it at the expense of printmaking or metal tooling. The children are not physically firing the clay themselves anyway. Also I like to blend sculpture projects together. Use wire forms with clay beads, make model magic birds with ceramic bird nests. I think it's important to think of sculpture not just as 'clay time' but any 3D materials, this can include cardboard, wood scraps, straws, bottle caps, etc. If you blend materials you may not need as much of each per grade. Also if one grade doesn't have the opportunity to explore a specific material for one year just try to have them do it the following year. In the end its all about trying different things, not having the most or best of only a few. Best of luck!

HipWaldorf said...

On several art teacher blogs in the last 6 months, I have seen teachers that have used acrylic paint on bisque ware and then paint over it with Modge Podge or similar coating or acrylic medium. I believe Deep Space Sparkle was one, and Patty said she was surprised she liked the results so much.


Angie said...

I would use the clay every year, but not glaze. I think the sculpey clay is actually more expensive than regular clay, though not as much as glaze. I am a big fan of glaze, but I do know that you can't always manage it. One teacher in our district had the students color their clay with oil pastels and then paint tempera paint over it, and rubbing some of the paint off of the clay. It had a nice effect, and I am planning to use that method this year.

Angie said...

Also, I would suggest trying to get these things through donorschoose.org as well! That is how I got my linoleum supplies. I couldn't have afforded them, otherwise.

Ms Novak said...

Thanks everyone! These are all great suggestions - I feel better about cutting back on my glaze for only a few grade levels and using other methods to color our clay.

Anonymous said...

What about the underglazes and clear glaze? Underglazes last forever, I've had mine for 2 years now and they still arent used up.

Zach Stoller said...

As many other people have already mentioned, I think it's important to have a ceramic project for every grade level. It is just a medium that cannot be duplicated. I teach over 500 kids in grades 1-5 and typically only glaze with 4th and 5th grade. I think it gives the younger kids something to look forward to.

Check out my classroom blog if you'd like. I like to share all of my lessons and I usually post my full plans. http://thomaselementaryart.blogspot.com/ Enjoy! -Zach

Anonymous said...

For my art room I unfortunately do not have a kiln and have to use self harding clay. I work with emotional and behavior kids grades K-12. For my students the experiance of just working in clay is thereputic. They make some amazing things and their creativity knows no bounds. I use acrylic paint to finish them. For my budget this is the best I can do, it is a small school and my budget must reach across 12 grades.
There are also many clay recipes out there that could give you other options. April Estabrooks