Held annually to encourage youth to express themselves creatively and explore the arts as a career, the medium for this year is clay and the theme is, “I want to shape the world.”
Participants must complete four of the artistic activities below. For each completed activity they will earn a Purple Bead.
Youth can also earn the Art Competition Emblem shown to the right by entering a piece (#14) into the competition. The emblem features a diamond which symbolizes personal creativity.
National Art Experience Projects
- Field Trip! Visit an art gallery, art show, museum, or art studio. View clay creations, and learn about the different ways that clay is used in art projects. The Science of Squishy Stuff! Find out what earthenware clay is and where it comes from. Find a clay deposit in your neighborhood (hint: clay soil is hard to dig, drains slowly after rain, and is slippery when wet), and do experiments with the clay. What happens when you:
a. Mix hard clay chunks with water and let stand overnight?
b. Let squishy clay dry out quickly in a warm place?
c. Crush pieces of dry clay and examine the dust with a magnifier or microscope?
d. Cover watery clay lightly with plastic wrap so it dries slowly over one or two days until it becomes pliable, then form it into something?
e. Fire earthenware clay in a kiln?
- Talk to the Pros! Have a conversation with a professional sculptor or potter. View samples of the artist’s work. Find out what kinds of tools, techniques, equipment, and processes they use to make art out of clay. Ask how they get ideas or inspiration for their work. What else can you ask them?
- Be a Culture Vulture! How long ago did humans use clay to make pots and sculptures? Where have archeologists discovered clay artifacts? How long does clay last? Find out how people in ancient cultures around the world used clay. Do their descendants still follow those traditions today?
- Career Explorer! Do research, on the Internet, in books, or at the library, about at least three uses for clay. Learn how clay is used in different careers and/or how it is used by various companies. Share the research with other Camp Fire participants and your family.
- Community Scavenger Hunt! Find clay displayed as art in your community. Discuss the work and how and where it is displayed.
- Play-Doh & Play Dough! Experiment with some alternative modeling materials, like Model Magic, Play-Doh, Sculpey, oil-based modeling clay, or paper clay. Or, mix up some homemade play dough or salt dough to model with. Although not as permanent as earthenware clay, these compounds are inexpensive, easy to use, and acceptable for Camp Fire’s art experience.
- Lights! Camera! Claymation! Create a short animated film or flipbook with a few characters made out of clay and a digital camera. Find a background you like, or build your own out of paper. Once you have a story in mind, follow this pattern: position character(s), take picture, repeat. Then upload your pictures to a computer and print or use a computer program, such as Frames, to create your final Claymation.
- Build Your Skills! Identify and practice some clay modeling techniques, such as pinch-pull, coiling, slab construction, scoring and slipping, blending, throwing, and appliqué. See what you can make with them! Will your piece hold together? Will it be smooth or bumpy or textured? Will you be able to hang it up, or will it stand by itself? Think about how you’ll display your work.
- Decoration Inspiration! Find examples of the many ways artists embellish clay forms—such as texturing; glazing; painting; wax resist; or adding other materials, like beads, fibers, or Mod Podged paper. How do these add meaning to clay art? Which of these should be added before firing and which ones after firing?
- Go for the Gold! Hold a “Clay Olympics” in which program participants (invite their families too!) build clay skills and compete for prizes. Who can build the tallest freestanding structure? Who can roll the longest coil? Gold, silver, and bronze foil-wrapped candies make great Olympic“medals”!
- Rock some Raku! Learn about Raku, a special firing process of ancient Japanese origin. Adult supervision will be needed to help build an outdoor raku kiln and use it to fire some raku pottery. You will need to follow steps and monitor the firing. Raku is exciting, and the results are always magical!
- Mad for Mosaics! Mosaics, or clay tile pictures, can be small, like a vase or stepping stone, or as large as a wall mural or monument. Participate in making a clay tile mural or mosaic sculpture. Find out how clay tiles are made to cover a wall or three-dimensional armature. Participate in the making of such a project by assisting in the design, slab rolling, cutting tile shapes, glazing or decorating the tiles, or installing the tiles.
- Shape the World Brainstorm! Research on the Internet, in books, or at the library, about at least three people who helped shape the world. Not sure where to start? Look up a man by the name of Earle Dickson; what did he invent and why? Now, it is your turn! On a whiteboard or piece of paper, write the words “I Can Shape the World!” in the center of the page. Then draw six shapes that connect to the center box with the headings “family,” “friends,” “community,” “animals,” “environment,” and “world” on them. Now, write down or draw as many ideas as possible for ways you could help the people and things in the category boxes.
- Competition Entry – Clay Creations! Create an original pot, sculpture, mosaic, or other artwork using any type of clay. If you wish, add finishing touches to your piece with glaze, paint, or other embellishment. Prepare your finished artwork for display and enter it in the Camp Fire National Art Experience by sending in a picture of your masterpiece!