Friday, January 6, 2012

Mosaic Mandalas

My students loved making these mosaic mandalas, especially the messy grouting part!  I showed my students lots of examples of mandalas and we discussed using symmetry in art before starting in clay.  The rules of the project are simple; any shape is allowed but the overall design must be symmetrical and the shapes can only have a little bubble room around them (not huge gaps), other than that--b cr8iv!

Start by giving each student a plastic plate (paper ones will get too wet and loose their shape).  Next roll out a large slab of clay that is about 3/8th of an inch thick and lay it over the plate and press it into the plates shape gently. Use a knife to cut off any extra clay around the edges and save the scraps of flat clay.

Next scratch up the entire surface of the clay with a fork or scoring tool.  Now start cutting out your shapes from the extra scraps of clay.  Scratch the backs of your shapes with a tool and begin attaching them onto the surface in a symmetrical design.  I encouraged students to work from the middle out to the edges.  HINT: If you have younger students you can use cookie cutters for this part to ensure symmetry!  Be sure to keep the thickness of your clay even as you attach them onto the base piece. Once all the spaces have been filled with shapes, let the mandala dry on the plate, they will pop apart from the plastic plates as they dry and shrink.  HINT: If you want to be able to hang these on the wall when they're finished, cut a small length of high temperature wire and bend it into a loop, then stick it halfway into the clay before it is dry to use as a hanger once the clay is fired.

Bisque fire the mandalas and then have students glaze only the surface of each of the shapes and the outside edge of the plate NOT the spaces in-between, the grout will not stick to a glazed surface.  You can make this a color wheel or color theory lesson with the glazing if you'd like too.  Be sure to keep the colors symmetrical too.

Once the glaze firing is finished, mix up some grout in any color you'd like according to the package's instructions.  Be careful about not adding too much water to your grout, a little goes a long way!  Spread out some newspaper and give out plastic gloves to students--this will be messy!  I give students a handful of the grout and let them start pushing it into all of the spaces, I usually have to help everyone out a little bit to make sure they've packed it in tight and filled all the spaces.  Then have them rub the grout off of the tops of all of their shapes using just their hands to start with or a wooden clay tool can be helpful, then use a dry paper towel to start to wipe the surfaces clean.  Once the grout has dried a bit, you can go over the surface with a damp sponge to get any residual grout off. Let the grout dry for 24 hours before hanging it up on the wall.

!!! B CR8IV!!!

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