Monday, January 19, 2009


This pair of soda-fired ceramic dragons guard my personal shelf in the studio's staff closet. I'm really fortunate to have a space amongst such talented artists: Amanda, Dave, Josh, Dacey, Junji, Carly and of course, Bill Strickland.

The dragon project was actually my introduction to ceramics. I went to a local middle school with Jamie Matthews to help teach this project to a group of kids. Jamie is the master dragon maker, I'm just a hack. I've helped him teach more than 100 kids the dragon project, but this past year Jamie got a regular teaching job in the suburbs. So I've been tasked with keeping the project going.

One thing I love about teaching art is creating examples for the kids. I recently made a new dragon using white stoneware clay. Our normal clay body is brown, which is strong but not ideal for bright glazes. Our porcelain is a beautiful bright white, but too brittle for dragons. White stoneware is a nice happy medium.

I used the paint sprayer like an airbrush (or spray can if you're into graffiti) to give the dragon some cool fades that would really appeal to inner-city kids. Of course they'll have to do their blending with ordinary paint brushes, but it's entirely possible.

If you're an art teacher, I highly recommend the dragon project. It's well-structured and relatively simple, but keeps kids active and engaged for a long period of time. It encourages a high-degree of creativity and self-expression. Kids often make unbelievably cool dragons, reflecting their personality or representing something highly imaginative.

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