We recently made some fantastic clay monsters at the Saturday Diddy Art club - some of you who follow me on Facebook might have seen the pictures. The children really enjoyed the creative process of modelling the clay and then bringing their monsters to life with facial features etc!
We used air dry clay for this project which we did over 2 weeks - making the models the first week and then painting them the second. You can buy air dry clay very easily online or in craft shops - we used the natural "stone" coloured clay as we were going to paint our monsters.
The main body of the monster was made using a cardboard tube. We filled the tube with scrunched up newspaper to make it firm. The children then rolled out a lump of clay and wrapped it around the tube to cover it. Extra pieces of clay were added to the top of the tube if needed to cover the top completely then we smoothed the clay out using a damp sponge to get rid of any lumps and bumps and smooth the joins.
Now for the fun bit - giving our monsters their features and personalities! We added eyes, beaks, mouths, hair, feet..... I brought out feathers and wiggly eyes which the children could press into the clay. I showed them how to make sure that any pieces they attached would stick firmly to the main body by using the score and slip method - making small marks (scores) on the pieces of clay to be joined together and then using a very small amount of water to dampen the clay and help it stick together. The challenge when doing this type of modelling with kids is to try and ensure that they don't use too much water and end up with a soggy mess - you only need to use the tiniest amount!
Making the models took up virtually the full 1.5 hr session - a lot of the children got really into it and made whole families of monsters, pets for the monsters, accessories like tables and chairs.....!
Some of our unpainted clay monsters on a drying rack
Love this one's long beak!
We then had a week to leave them to dry. As some of the pieces of clay used were quite thick they definately needed the full weeks drying time. Don't be tempted to rush and paint the models too quickly as the paint won't take and will flake off - you can see how the clay lightens up as it dries.
The following week we painted our monsters. We used ready mix paint for this but you could also use acrylic paints for a really bright result. With the combination of the brightly coloured feathers and the paints the results were fantastic!
How fantastic is this one? Painted with a camoflauge effect!
Some of the children then went on to make houses for their finished monsters!
This activity was done at my Saturday class which is for children aged 5+. However I've also done monsters with air dry clay at my toddler classes which has also been really successful - in the toddler sessions we've just used a piece of clay to model with and then stick googly eyes, feathers and sequins into to create our creatures rather than modelling around a cardboard tube.
The response to this activity from the children was so positive that I definately plan to do more modelling work with them this next half term - newspaper modelling next!