Glynnis Lessing

An Artist’s Blog

Lesson 2: Ball & Socket


Posted 9 years, 7 months ago at 8:40 pm. Add a comment

Lesson 2 Ball and Socket

 

Now that we have got pancakes, snakes and balls down,

let’s work on putting them together into slightly more horizontal forms. We can keep them on the pancake base but eventually, as the students get better at technique, some things won’t have to be on that.

 

Dinosaurs, Dragons and other Four-legged beasts

It’s always good to start with animals with naturally thick legs like dinosaurs, elephants, hippos and rhinos  ( as opposed to horses, camels and giraffes –I usually encourage the kids to make those last 3  “lying down”–kind of kneeling with their legs tucked under, as animals do)

For Dinosaurs and dragons and other small-headed, long-necked animals:

The first thing to convince the students of is to make the head, body and tail all one piece.  This is that “yam” shape that is really just a snake that ate an antelope! it is pointy on the ends and fat in the middle.

It helps to pinch it into the general shape firstthe-yam-shapethen roll it smoothyam-rolled-and-smooth

show the kids through example and then by placing your hand over theirs that they can hold their hand at a low angle to the table to achieve that point at the end. showing-how-to-roll

Once you have a good strong yam, poke 4 holes into it

4-leg-holes

Roll 4 fat short coils or 2 coils that you then cut in half. Put those points on one end and tap the coil on the table to make the other end flat and wide just like a dinosaur or elephant foot.

Make sure they understand scale- that is, tiny skinny legs won’t hold up a big fat dinosaur, nor will giant tree trunk legs go into the holes you poked in the body.

4-legslegs-in-place-before-smearing

Once the legs are firmly in there, encourage smearing- I say “erase the lines” but still, the concept of bonding the clay together is often difficult for them to grasp. As it is a key part of making the piece strong, it is worthwhile to spend a little time on it. I’ve tried saying “smooth the skin” and pointing out they don’t have lines on their skin.

You can even take their finger and use it as a smearing tool and they get a better understanding of the sensation and result.using-students-finger-to-smear

Now you may turn your dinosaur right side up and bend the neck and tail to look more realistic. 

define-head-from-neckNOTE: I highly recommend curving the tail and especially back toward the body. This will make it stronger. Any time you curve the clay, it is stronger.

They can poke holes for the eyes- I always show eye sockets and I achieve those by facing the head away from me and pushing the clay back towards me with my finger.making-the-eye-socket(sorry, a bit out of focus)

You can also “open” the mouth with a plastic knife or skewer.making-rexs-mouth

At this point, more slots or holes can be made in the back and even tail to add spines or plates (as in the case of a stegosaurus)

ready-for-spikesa spike should look like this:making-a-spikelots-of-spikes

 

If you feel the legs are not well attached or the tail is too thin, or even that the head won’t stay up, it is time again, for the pancake. The dinosaur can “graze” or check a nest of eggs and therefore have its head down and touching the pancake and the tail also should touch down and end within the boundaries of the pancake. student-work-other-view

special problems:

this is mainly a problem because you get a tippy dinosaur

this is mainly a problem because you get a tippy dinosaur

too dry:

solution: fresh clay- encourage students not to work the clay too long. It gets dry and cracked.

solution: fresh clay- encourage students not to work the clay too long. It gets dry and cracked.

You can take the “old” clay, dip it in a water and stick it in a sealed plastic bag. It should absorb the water it collected on its surface and that should be sufficient to re-hydrate it overnight.

too-thin-a-body

Too thin a body doesn't leave room for leg holes. Encourage the student to roll only at the ends and not the center.

 

This comes from vigorous rolling at just the very end. At this point, you will need a "clay bandaid"

This comes from vigorous rolling at just the very end. At this point, you will need a "clay bandaid"

 

 

The "clay bandaid" is a wonderful fix-it for many problems where the clay has gotten too thin. This is frequent as students squeeze the clay in an attempt to fix it but it only gets thinner. Add the thin flat piece and have the student blend it in. They love the name.

The "clay bandaid" is a wonderful fix-it for many problems where the clay has gotten too thin. This is frequent as students squeeze the clay in an attempt to fix it but it only gets thinner. Add the thin flat piece and have the student blend it in. They love the name.

 

Students tend to think of bodies as having a lot of separate parts. When they construct them this way, they are much weaker. Plus they often don't blend them together. This is a very weak piece.

Students tend to think of bodies as having a lot of separate parts. When they construct them this way, they are much weaker. Plus they often don't blend them together. This is a very weak piece.

 

 

For short tails, they should always be pressed against the body so they will not break off.

REMEMBER: Any thin clay sticking out, especially straight out, is very vulnerable to breaking off and should be avoided.

T-REX

T-Rex is a special case. It is an immensely popular dino and as such, deserves special attention.

He is a tricky beast as he is much more upright and his big, toothsome head  makes him top heavy.

This time your yam should end bluntly at one end. 

t-rex-yamYou must “choke” him a little to define his head.choking-the-neck-to-define-the-head

Then make two “ice cream cones” and flatten them somewhat.Now here is the tricky part, you must actually pinch out a kind of peg from the side of the fattest part- this is the upper thigh.pinching-out-a-peg-on-the-leg

 Make holes on either side of the yam and stick those pegs in

hole-for-leg-pegt-rex-with-unbent-legs

bend the ends of the legs into feet and curve the tail so he can stand up. (I’ve started on his face here- 

bend-legs-and-tail-to-stand

But take the time to  smear part of the thigh into the body to keep him strong.

smeared-legFor the feet, cut a notch in the pointy end- this gives you your two toes. Don’t make them too delicate. 

making-the-toesNow you may make the face, make nostrils and  eye sockets as described above and put little balls in and poke a hole in the center. To make him look angry, you can push the brow down a little, this also holds the ball in better.

Now, open a large mouth. It’s good to have a pretty fat head so the lower jaw is quite thick. Now you can poke holes around the entire perimeter t-rex-dental-surgeryholes-for-teetht-rexs-teethand insert tiny tiny pointy coils for teeth

. The danger here is that the kids spend too long rolling these and they dry out quickly and crumble. Encourage them to roll them quickly between their fingers and also you can put a little water to soak into the canvas mat and then the mat will absorb less water from the clay.

the mouth can actually be opened wider to accept the teeth teeth-installedand then closed to interlock the teeth- again, this makes them stronger. The teeth will poke out every which way giving him a snaggle toothed look. The students love this!

closing-the-mouth-after-the-teeth-are-in

Now you can poke two holes in the chest,

front-leg-holes-t-rexmake two thin snakes, cut the notches again for the toes and insert them for the T-Rex’s tiny front legs.clawsand voila! 

Mr. T-Rext-rex-complete

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