These cute self-portrait busts are a great way for students to learn about basic human face proportions. Take time to show them the proportions on a paper drawing or paired up with a partner that they can stare at. I usually divide this project up into two sessions. Students will start with building the base shapes and then add on the details of their faces. You can also offer mirrors to your students for help with the details in Part II.
Start by giving students a piece of clay the size of a grapefruit plus a little bit of extra clay. Cut that piece in half and then cut one of those pieces in half, they should have 3 pieces (two small ones of equal size and 1 larger one). Make spheres out of each of the pieces and form them into pinch pots. The larger pinch pot will be for the shoulders, squeeze it so its a little bit oval shaped and then place it upside down on the table. HINT: Its helpful to stuff a little bit of newspaper into the shoulders to help it keep its shape. Scratch-to-attach the two smaller ones together to create a hollow sphere, this will be the head shape- it may look more like a potato, so have students take their time to shape it and make it more egg shaped. Use a little bit of extra clay to roll out a snake of clay that is about as thick as your finger and wrap it into a cylinder shape, this will be used for the neck.
To attach all three of the parts together, (shoulders, neck and head) position them where you think that they will look best to make your bust, then scratch-to-attach all of the connection spots well. I like to attach the neck onto the shoulder and blend the coil of clay into the shoulders, then place the head onto the shoulders and blend those two together well. Next use a tool to poke through from under the shoulders, through the neck and into the hollow space in the head, so that they don't explode in the kiln. You can also write students names on the inside of the shoulders while you have them flipped over. If you've used newspaper here, just pull it out to make the hole and then replace it. This is usually where I will stop the first session, so if you need to stop here too, wrap up all of your students work in plastic until your next session.
Now have students use a pointy tool or a pencil to lightly draw onto the clay the center line of the face, the eye line, the nose line and the mouth line. This should help students give placement for all of the features. Using a small amount of extra clay, shape each of the features in clay using tools and their hands. Make sure that each part is scratched-to-attached on well. HINT: A great way to make eyes that are the same size is to make one the size you like and then trace it onto another piece of clay. HINT: A great way to make ears the same size is to make a flat pancake of clay and cut it in half, each half is an ear. Hair can be added onto the head in flat pieces, coils or texturing the clay, depending on the style and type of hair they are trying to create. Once all the features are attached, erase the lines with a finger or smoothing tool. Have students think about clothing or other items they might want to add on to the shoulders (like a parrot or a pocket!). Encourage students to turn their sculptures around and look at them from all sides before letting them dry.