Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Sculpting with Kids

I have been asked many a times, what is the best medium for sculpting with kids?
My usual answer is the non hardening clay, Plastelin(a) as it is often called. I get mine from Dickblick.com

No, not play dough. Here in the US, play dough seems to be the medium of choice offered in every pharmacy and very very commonly used to sculpt with kids. However, I find it very inflexible, the colors can not be mixed and small details can not be made. My test for kids clay is if you can roll a long long "sausage" as I call them out of it, and it does not start braking and will not stick to your hands so that it makes you uncomfortable--than it's a good choice.

I had my private lesson with kids yesterday. My 2 year old daughter is always part of the lesson, and I have to tell you that I was majorly amazed at her yesterday. She stayed the whole time (a bit over an hour) and she was busy making a hedgehog. He he, it must be in the blood.;) Not only did she keep herself busy, but the hedgehog turned out quite reasonable and hedgie like. I am super proud of it. Almost as proud as if I made it myself.

I love using various objects with plastelina. Buttons, sticks, beads, wiggly eyes (those make the figure instantly come alive) and kids love to incorporate these objects into the figure. I try to keep the lesson a game. We do not study , we talk, we make, we play, we learn. We learn proportions, we learn anatomy, we learn Art history (I keep a ton of books at hand), we learn color combinations, we learn about composition and balance. I believe in serious education, yet I feel it is absolutely necessary to keep it a game. I hate underestimating my students. A 5 year old CAN make a figure that IS NOT a stick figure. But it takes time and discipline to stay focused on a task.That's why we play. When they play--they stay focused on the game, of course provided they enjoy the game.


missficklemedia.com said...

What a beautiful family you have!

Thank you for the recommendation, playdough is very frustrating and any other modeling clay we have tried has been hard to work with.

I would display that hedgehog proudly, it is stupendous!

fenrislorsrai said...

I sculpt and find plastelin frustratingly stiff in many cases. It varies a lot in quality, so its partially a function of what kind you get.

Salt dough seems to work well and seems to hold together better than the playdough sold in the US. Lots of recipes can be found online.

If color isn't really an issue true clay is often the easier for kids to work with. And in a worst case scenario of it drying into a solid block, you can pound it out and reconstitute it. Not going to be as durable that way, but offer the option of letting them dry into hard durable toys.

You can also up the durability of true clays by adding paper slurry. Chop paper and water in a blender, blend into clay. It'll make it behave differently. Just be aware that paper DOES rot, so mix as needed, or add a little antibacterial soap to it to keep it from turning stinky.

fenrislorsrai said...

oh yes, paper clay won't stink once its dry, just if you're keeping it wet a long time. So mix as much as you think you'll need. Don't do a fifty pound vat thinging you'll use if the next five years!

Vita said...

fenrislorsrai--thank you for such a wonderful addition to the subject. You obviously are an expert.

In my experience plastelin does vary in quality, but generally speaking it surves the purpose. When teaching outside of home and having only a limited amount of time (25 minutes) per say for the activity I find it does the job well. Also it can be recycled, which is also important to me.

risa said...

I love DickBlick...and I am lucky enough to have a few stores locally...although it is actually cheaper to buy paint online. So fun to work with kids...I remember doing it with my kids!

Softpencil said...

I love this hedgehog, it´s very cute!
I´m an art teacher and I like using cold porcelain with my little students. You can color it, mix colors and keep your creations when the material is dried.

Vita said...

Softpencil, I've never heard of cold porcelain. Do they sell it in regular Art stores?

fenrislorsrai said...

Doing a dry run of any craft project you plan to do with kids helps. Then you can double check and make sure your materials are behaving properly for the age you'll be working with.

Kids also really dig plaster casting, but it makes SUCH a mess. To make it slightly less messy (and insure the kids can take it home) stockpile some of those plastic "clamshell" boxes used for takeout, cookies, etc. Just save them as you get 'em. Use stuff like paper cups to cast in, but stick them inside the clamshell box as a work tray. They they can just snap closed and take home and peel the paper off their casts when they're dry. and corals the wet plaster while they're playing with it!

Vita said...

fenrislorsrai --you comments are beyond Amazing! thank you for sharing

fenrislorsrai said...

Hehe. I was the camp counselor that sent the kids home covered in dirt, plaster and paint and made people go "how did they get so DIRTY?"


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