Art Lesson: Polymer Clay

Polymer Clay Cane

Grade: 9th Grade
Course: Ceramics – Polymer Clay

Materials: Polymer clay, plexiglass, pasta machine, cutting razor, clay extruder, shaping tools, needle

Aim:  To work with polymer clay making “canes” and “loaves”.

Polymer Clay Checker CanePolymer Clay Cane Loaf

Instructional Objectives:
Students will:

  • Condition polymer clay
  • Make coils (roll clay into thin “snake-like” forms)
  • Make a pattern with the coils of clay (a cane).

Motivation:

  • How many of people here have worked in clay before?
  • What kind of clay have you worked with
  • What kinds of things have you made?
  • There are many different kinds of clay (expand). Today we will be working with polymer clay.

Development:

  • Define the properties of polymer clay. Polymer clay – is a plastic material first designed over 30 years ago for doll making and molding. It is made of Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) suspended in a platicizer. Polymer clays won’t dry out. They become hard through baking (275 degrees) in a toaster oven.
  • Show visuals of objects made with polymer clay. (Isn’t it exciting how one thing can have so many possibilities? …and that people, individual minds came to these possibilities?)
  • Conditioning the Clay – all polymer clays contain polymer fibers. When first purchased, these fibers are all jumbled, like uncombed hair. The fibers must be smoothed out and go in the same direction before used (conditioned). To condition the clay, put the clay through a pasta machine or roll the clay repeatedly with hands until soft and pliable.
  • Cane —combining/joining different colors, sizes and shapes of clay in patterns of 3-dimensionsal “rolls” or “snakes” so that they can be slices and used as a repetitive pattern. (a one-dimensional picture or pattern created in 3- dimensions). Canework puts together sameness and difference, separation and junction, one and many)
  • Bulls-eye
  • Checkerboard
  • Pin-roll

The word cane refers to an ancient glass making technique in which rods of molten glass are combined and stretched to produce a long cylinder whose pattern, which is typlically florasl or geometric, is continuous throughout its length. In the Venetian glassmaking tradition these canes are cut into thin slices and applied to molten glass to make items such as beads and paperweights. These objects are called “millefiori” (Italian for thousand flowers)…The techniques employed by the Venetian glass artists to make millefiori…form the basis and inspiration of modern polymer canework.

  • Do you think canework is beautiful because of the way different things join together for one purpose?

Student Activity:
Students will make designs and patterns in polymer clay using the cane technique.

Evaluation/Review:
Students will show the cane they made and describe how they made it.

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