Saturday, October 1, 2016

Ceramic Cactus Gardens & Frida Kahlo

These ceramic cactus gardens were inspired by Hope Knight at Mrs. Knight's Smartest Artists. It was a wonderful project for My 5th graders, as it puts their prior knowledge of coils, pinch pots, attaching pieces through the score and slip method, and glazing to good use.

I wanted to tie the cactus project into another lesson, since on the east coast we don’t live in the desert. Its not an easy 'connection to nature' experience for my kids, unless you count a vacation etc. I wasn’t sure about it until I visited a wonderful exhibit of Frida Kahlo’s work, and the re-creation of her gardens and outdoor studio at the New York Botanical Garden that I knew exactly how I wanted to proceed. We began by looking at the works of Frida Kahlo, and how she included her love of the natural world into her paintings, and her life at La Casa Azul

Our first work day was spent creating coil pinch pots, which the children could make into various shapes. Then into baggies with their name/class until next time. The second class I demonstrated some basic cactus forms, and a simple bloom. They worked on their plants, and into a second baggie they went. The final steps were to attach the cacti to the bottom of the pots, to draw or carve details to the plant life and container, and to add gravel to the bare areas around the base of the plants. They could glaze their pieces with realistic or non-realistic colors, but had to use at least three!

To display the gardens at school, I was inspired by the Aztec-inspired pyramid which was a prominent feature of her garden. So I backed the display case with blue paper, and pictures of Frida Kahlo, her work and gardens.

Then to create the pyramid, which gave the exhibit some nice height, I just covered some copy paper boxes with yellow bulletin board paper, and there you have it! Aztec pyramid!


Hope Hunter Knight said...

So gorgeous! I am going to have to try glaze with this instead of my usual tempera. Great display idea too!

Renee Collins said...

Thanks! And thanks for your wonderful lesson idea!