LITTLE FIREWEED ACADEMY, Homer: David Kaufmann led a residency February 20-25, exploring clay with Kindergarten through second-graders.
He describes, “We took a field trip to the beach and hiked a short distance to where there is exposed clay in the bluff. Students, teachers, and parents chipped the frozen clay from the bluff under my guidance and we then carried roughly 200 lbs of raw material back to the bus and back to school, as well as some other collected beach materials for texture and inspiration. The first studio sessions focused on observation and physical experimentation with this material. Students learned to wedge/knead the clay into a workable form while removing rocks, sticks, and other impurities. Then we focused on building a methodology for creating tiles with the clay. Each student learned and practiced all of the steps of tile-making themselves and then we reorganized into stations and operated like a factory, with a focus on practicing efficiency, teamwork, and quality over quantity. We also practiced texturing the finished tiles with beach materials.We continued our tile manufacturing and also employed letter stamps for each student to create a word search tile with the names of their family members. Periodically throughout these sessions, we broke up the physical work with clay for short science lessons on testing and learning about the material. We learned to make pinch pots and compared the locally harvested material with bagged clay from a clay supplier. This lesson also included a presentation of my own pottery and a discussion of life as a full time artist. It was a great residency overall.”