Ceramic Surfer Dude Penguin and Surfboard – Thumb Clay Lesson
Penguins have got to be some of the cutest creatures ever created! I wanted a fun project for my After School Art Class that would be good for the winter and early spring season, but also do-able for a wide age range of students (k-5th grades). After seeing Thomas Elementary Art’s First Grade Clay Penguins, the thumb clay technique used on Artsmudge’s Clay Owls and Mrs. Knight’s Smartest Artists’ Clay Thumb Owls, and a certain movie with a similar theme ;), I was inspired to create this penguin and surfboard ceramic project. Our surfer penguins were such a BIG HIT! Parents & kids LOVED this project! Check out a similar project using the clay Thumb Method: Ceramic Thumb Owls
Supplies: Low fire clay, glazes, clay modeling tools, scissors, water cups
Don’t have access to a kiln? Use Crayola Model Magic & Acrylic Paint!
Project Objective: Create a penguin using the “thumb” method and a surfboard using the slab method. Demonstrate proper technique and good craftsmanship.
- Interesting Penguin Facts: 20 Fun Facts About Penguins (Share kid friendly facts)
- Short Video Clip from the movie Surf’s Up: Surf’s Up – Cody and Big Z Surfing together
- Ceramic Process: build ceramic artwork, let dry completely for 10-14+ days minimum (until Bone dry-Dry time based on your location), fire in kiln (Bisque-ware), glaze with ceramic glazes, fire again (Glaze Firing)
- Ceramics Vocabulary:
- Slab: Creating a ceramic form by hand-building walls using flat rolled-out pieces of clay.
- Slip: muddy, liquid clay used to attach two pieces
- Score: to make marks on the clay to attach two pieces
- Give each student a small ball of clay.
- Have them wet their non-dominate thumb.
- Press the ball of clay onto the thumb. Leave about 1/2″ wall at the top.
- Gently squeeze the clay around the thumb until it goes down to the bottom of the thumb.
- Gently squeeze the clay to form the head.
- Wiggle the clay gently off the thumb. Remind students to be careful to NOT squeeze the “thumb” opening in the clay closed.
- Make 2 small balls of clay for the eyes. Use the “score and slip” method to attach them. Press into the center with the eraser of a pencil.
- Form another small ball of clay into a triangle for the beak. Attach with the “score and slip” method
- Use scissors to cut & lift the wings.
- Pull and form a small tail in the back.
- Form 2 small balls for the feet. Flatten the ball then use a needle tool to cut the “toes” in triangles (webbed feet). Use the “score and slip” method to attach feet to body.
- Give each student a small ball for the surf board. have them gently flatten down the ball so it is about an inch thick. Use 1/4″ slats (I use 2 square 1/4″ dowel rods) & a rolling pin to roll the slab down to the correct size.
- Use a needle tool to cut the surf board (slightly larger than the penguin).
- ** Do NOT attach the penguin to the surf board. This will create trapped air! It also makes it easier to glaze the pieces separately after bisque firing.
Here are some pre-fired penguin pictures:
Here is our Glazed Penguins:
All images and text are copyright © Create Art with ME. If you choose to use any of the images or text in this post please link back to my blog Create Art with ME.