Sunday, April 10, 2011

Pop Art Pencils

I love to look at Claes Oldenburg's giant pop art sculptures as inspiration for this project! Start by rolling out a slab of clay that is about 3/8ths of an inch thick (I tell my students to make it about as thick as a pancake), at least 12" wide and about 18" long.  This slab is easily rolled out with a slab roller, but if you're using rolling pins its going to be tough work!  Cut out a rectangle approximately 12" x 18" and scratch along the edge of both long sides.  Then you're going to roll up your rectangle into a cylinder and attach the edges together.  This can get a little wobbly especially if your clay is very soft, so rolling your clay around a cardboard tube can help it keep its shape.  Once the cylinder is made, trace the bottom of it on another small slab of clay to make the bottom (the eraser end) and scratch-to-attach it onto the cylinder.  Now we're going to make the pointed pencil tip, so if you've used a cardboard tube on the inside, you'll need to remove it.  Using a knife or needle tool, make four equally spaces V shape cuts into the top of your cylinder that are about 1.5" wide at the top of the V and about 2.5 - 3" long.  Next scratch the inside edges of those V cuts and then fold all the points in towards the middle of your cylinder.  This should make the point of your pencil, smooth out the seam lines where you've scratched-to attached.  Next you can add details like the texture of the metal ferrule, the edges the sharpened wood line, add some text where the pencil company's name would be. Also make sure that the eraser end is flat enough that your pencil can stand up safely and don't forget to poke a hole into the empty hollow space so that your pencils don't explode in the kiln! Let them dry, bisque fire them, glaze them and fire again.  My students love to pretend they are writing with giant pencils when they are finished. 

!!B CR8IV!!


  1. HI Jenni,

    Just wanted to tell you how much fun I had at your studio with my two grand daughters, Sophia and Madeline. Loved every minute of it and can't wait to come back and do some more! Thanks!


  2. Thanks Carolyn, your projects are in the kiln as I type! Hope to see you at the studio again soon!