Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Cave Art

These primitive cave art slabs are a great way to teach students about the earliest forms of art.  Start by showing students images of early cave paintings and have them find common themes, such as bison, humans and horses.  It is a good idea to have students practice their cave paintings on paper before starting on their clay version.

You'll need to prep some materials before you begin.  This cave painting sculpture was made with a slab of clay for the base and was decorated using colored oxides made from raw pigments which is very similar to how cave paintings were originally made.  The colored oxides will need to be made in advance but are simple to do.  You'll have to make a trip to your local ceramic supply store to pick up small amounts of oxides and a flux to make them stick to the clay in the kiln, here I used red iron oxide, burnt umber, manganese dioxide and Gerstley Borate (GB) as my flux.  You can get oxides in almost any color that are commercially made they are called Mason Stains, but for this project, I chose to keep the color scheme more natural.  In individual containers mix 2 parts oxide to 1 part GB and mix well with water until you have a little thicker than watercolor paint consistency to your oxides. If you keep your oxides in containers with sealed lids, the pigment will settle to the bottom, but once stirred they can be used over and over on other clay projects and if they dry out, you can always add water to reconstitute them. Now you are ready to go!

Students will need to roll out their clay flat, I like to keep this in an abstract shape so that it represents a rock form.  I also have students make 2 holes at the top of their clay to be able to hang it up later.  Next students can use brushes to paint on their cave painting with the oxides that you made.  If they make a mistake with their painting, just use a clay scraping tool to wipe off the area and try again.  Encourage students to look at their practice drawings for shapes and ideas.  The final results should be primitive and rough looking.  I just bisque fire these pieces and don't use any glazes on them, but if you'd like to add some shine and clear glaze over the top of everything would work too.

!!!B CR8IV!!!

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