Clay Play For Everyone


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A visual essay on my 8 weeks spent with the seniors at the Lutheran Settlement House and Neumann Center, Philadelphia, PA creating beads in earthenware clays and fashioning them into wearable art.

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Clay Play For Everyone

  1. 1. According to Tom Robbins “It’s never too late to have a happy childhood.”
  2. 2. <ul><li>It is the time in a person's life </li></ul><ul><li>when they are a child. </li></ul>
  3. 3. <ul><li>P L A Y is a P R O C E S S </li></ul>
  4. 4. <ul><li>The pleasure and enjoyment of playing </li></ul><ul><li>is the wisdom of childhood. </li></ul>
  5. 6. <ul><li>Yet when watching children at play, </li></ul><ul><li>one can observe the transfixed seriousness </li></ul><ul><li>and entrancing absorption </li></ul><ul><li>with which they engage in it. </li></ul>
  6. 7. <ul><li>Play occurs at a relaxed pace </li></ul><ul><li>and with a freedom void of compulsion. </li></ul>
  7. 8. <ul><li>It fosters creativity </li></ul><ul><li>and is a valuable tool </li></ul><ul><li>for the individual </li></ul><ul><li>at any age. </li></ul>
  8. 11. <ul><li>It conjures up the instinctive cognition </li></ul><ul><li>we all seem to have for ‘earth.’ </li></ul>
  9. 12. <ul><li>Making beads in </li></ul><ul><li>clay is a process </li></ul><ul><li>limited only by </li></ul><ul><li>the imagination </li></ul><ul><li>of the maker. </li></ul><ul><li>It is ‘PLAY’ </li></ul><ul><li>which is </li></ul><ul><li>easy to perfect. </li></ul>
  10. 13. <ul><li>Recently, one of my Beads-in-Clay participants </li></ul><ul><li>exclaimed with closed eyes, “Oh, my, the smell </li></ul><ul><li>of this clay takes me back to my backyard in </li></ul><ul><li>Kensington when I was a kid.” </li></ul><ul><li>Another arthritic senior took pleasure in the feel </li></ul><ul><li>of the clay on her inside finger joints and loved </li></ul><ul><li>how responsive it was to her tender touch. </li></ul>
  11. 15. <ul><li>Otherwise, the direction taken </li></ul><ul><li>is determined intuitively </li></ul><ul><li>by the person molding the clay. </li></ul>
  12. 17. <ul><li>1. Making the beginning coils </li></ul>
  13. 18. <ul><li>2. Clapping out palm pebbles </li></ul>
  14. 19. <ul><li>3. Finger pressing disc beads </li></ul>
  15. 20. <ul><li>4. Palm rolling round beads </li></ul>
  16. 21. <ul><li>5. Texture rolling </li></ul><ul><li>blob beads </li></ul>
  17. 22. <ul><li>6. Finger rolling textured tube beads </li></ul>
  18. 24. <ul><li>Since all the seniors at the Lutheran Settlement </li></ul><ul><li>House and Neumann Center had hands </li></ul><ul><li>and a penchant for play, we were off </li></ul><ul><li>to a really good start! </li></ul>
  19. 48. These disc beads were all made with nichrome wire hanging loops.
  20. 72. Musings on my classes at the Lutheran Settlement House and Neumann Center located in Philadelphia’s Fishtown area, May 2009.
  21. 73. (A detailed list of supplies and firing suggestions follows.)
  22. 75. <ul><li>Clay mat work surface such as the cotton woven back side of Naugahyde </li></ul><ul><li>Earthenware clays in various colors (some scroddled together beforehand) </li></ul><ul><li>Sharp knife, clay scalpel or fettling knife </li></ul><ul><li>Needle Tool and small bamboo skewers, various size straws for making holes </li></ul><ul><li>Pastry roller and wood dowels in various sizes </li></ul><ul><li>Styrofoam trays, marker, sponges and water containers </li></ul><ul><li>Rough towel or fine steel wool to clean up dry scroddled beads & rough edges </li></ul>
  23. 77. <ul><li>Nichrome wire preformed loops for making clay shapes into pendants </li></ul><ul><li>Clay molds, various textures, rubber stamp sheets and cornstarch with soft brush </li></ul><ul><li>Colored terra sigillata for accenting bone dry beads before firing </li></ul><ul><li>Acrylics paints or ceramic stains for color accenting fired beads </li></ul>
  24. 78. <ul><li>Individual clay bead trays keep each students’ work together and a clay “name bead” added to the tray makes it simple to identify whose work it is after firing </li></ul><ul><li>A kiln of your own which fires to cone 04 or a local art center which will fire participants’ bead trays for you </li></ul>
  25. 79. <ul><li>A good assortment of waxed linen, leather, twine and silk cords for stringing </li></ul><ul><li>An assortment of accent beads to complement the clay beads with close attention paid to the opening size in these (Professional beaders will usually donate their leftovers) </li></ul><ul><li>Findings and tools for finishing the necklaces, bracelets and earrings made </li></ul><ul><li>Scissors, E6000 and Weldbond glue </li></ul><ul><li>Some knowledge of finishing techniques </li></ul>