Students were challenged to find creative and unique ways to make realistic looking food. One girl made a plaster cast of blueberries to add to her dessert tray.

Students were challenged to find creative and unique ways to make realistic looking food. One girl made a plaster cast of blueberries to add to her dessert tray.

Introduction

 

Food is a great motivator, even when eating isn’t your prime objective. The very familiar things we eat every day are loaded with visual excitement such as texture, form, line and color. A dinner plate is full of opportunities for using compositional elements like balance, rhythm and variety.

 

Beginning ceramics students looked at pop art and related their food sculptures to this movement from the 1960s. Pop artists like Claes Oldenburg shock our perceptions and confuse our responses to scale, qualities of hardness and softness, color and context.


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Ceramic Dinner


“Dinner Plate” ceramic sculptures, mid-range stoneware, commercial underglazes and low-fire clear glaze fired to Cone 04.

“Dinner Plate” ceramic sculptures, mid-range stoneware, commercial underglazes and low-fire clear glaze fired to Cone 04.

Process

 

Step 1. To start this lesson, students brought in three magazine photos of various foods they thought would make an appetizing dinner.

 

Step 2. Using colored pencils, they created a full-color sketch showing good composition in a circular format, effective color mixing and attention to realistic color and scale. I told students not to create their composition with the regularity of the face of a clock, but to use overlapping, irregular spacing and interesting juxtapositions to get an eye-catching composition.

 

Step 3. The students were enthusiastic and brought in textured objects and things to cast. An ear of corn, a spoon and a pile of blueberries were cast in plaster to create press molds that everyone shared. Things like terrycloth and lace pressed in clay made great-looking lettuce, a potato masher made a disc of clay look like a waffle, and students loved how easy it was to get peas and carrots to look realistic by just rolling tiny spheres or rolling a variety of coil shapes. Of course, a lot of students wanted to make hamburgers and pizza, but after encouragement to go for variety, they successfully created fried chicken, spaghetti, apple pie and T-bone steak.

To construct plates, most students used heavy paper plates as drape molds while a student resourcefully made a plaster cast of a lunch tray.

To construct plates, most students used heavy paper plates as drape molds while a student resourcefully made a plaster cast of a lunch tray.

 

Step 4. Students used the slab technique and a heavy paper plate as a drape mold. While the slab plate was still plastic, students created clay food using a variety of clay forming techniques. Students knew that they would be assessed on how well all the pieces were attached, so scoring, slipping and sealing seams were stressed.

 

Step 5. When the plates were leather hard, underglaze colors were brushed on. After the bisque, a low-fire clear glaze was applied, and some students chose to add bright red accents with a special low-fire red glaze.

 

Step 6. The finished plates were displayed in our school display case, each with a menu composed by the student artist and typed by the special students in my class.

 

Students and teachers responded enthusiastically to this assignment and the hamburgers and pizzas were the hit of the exhibit. variety of coil shapes. Of course, a lot of students wanted to make hamburgers and pizza, but after encouragement to go for variety, they successfully created fried chicken, spaghetti, apple pie and T-bone steak.

 

Diane Lamb-Wanucha studied ceramics and received an MSAED from Massachusetts College of Art. She currently teaches ceramics, sculpture and photography at Groton-Dunstable Regional High School in Groton, MA. You can contact her by email at tealeaf66@hotmail.com.

 

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