What some art teachers would consider a necessity and staple in their art rooms, other art teachers survive day in and day out with out one.
The reality is, kilns are expensive, and not all schools have the budget for the expense of purchasing, running and maintaining a kiln. Because working in 3D is one of the hallmarks of a balanced art curriculum, many creative teachers around the country are finding ways to give their students a quality 3D art experience without breaking the budget.
Although I personally have experience using a kiln for most of my ceramic needs in the classroom, sometimes budget, traveling schedules and simple ease, I often find it beneficial to turn to alternative methods of clay to fill in the gaps of my clay curriculum. Today I would like to review some methods I have used in the past, as well as some other products floating around out there. This guide is meant to help all art teachers (and art enthusiasts) make the best decision when working without a kiln, but still have that passion and desire to expose their students to quality clay experiences.
1. : Modeling clay is a nice clay for practicing before an actual clay project. Because it doesn’t harden completely, great for practicing, but the consistency is not that of real clay, so there is a bit of a disconnect and I find it to be sticky and oily.
2. : Not too shabby of a project. Acts and attaches like earthenware clay. Paint adheres “ok” – The colors aren’t as bold, but I had good luck with water color paints or tempera cakes on them and then doing a spray finish to make it glossy and seal it. Metallic paints work great on air dry clay, and really cover up any imperfections. The price is reasonable.
3. This product is found in the Amaco catalog, and works much like earthenware. You can paint it once the product is fully dry, and the grey color is realistic to actual earthenware clay. At $10 for 5 lbs, my earthenware is about 3/4ths the cost, however, if you choose smaller projects, this might stretch your budget nicely.
4. : This product is from . It’s an air dry clay that acts like earthen ware, and comes in a variety of colors. Someone has even thrown on the wheel with it! I saw some finished pieces of this clay at a conference, and I was impressed. Tomorrow I am going to be conducting a more detailed review of this product and a giveaway of this clay, so please come back for more ‘air dry clay’ fun.