"Art is not what you see, but what you make others see." Edgar Degas
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Sometimes my students need a break from clay. All artists can become frustrated with their work or become blocked or uninspired. Researching ideas, sketching and reflecting on past work can often spark an idea and get us out of the doldrums. But sometimes we need more, like a fun distraction with alternative materials.
It started with an accidental drop of a skittle into water. Almost immediately, the dye started to bleed, and within a few seconds, the experimenting began. Due to the shortened period that day, the experimentation was limited, but ideas were flying. Dipping and drawing, painting with the water, questions like, “Would the dye last on clay through a firing?” I doubt it, but I have a feeling that I will see a test tile soon.
These radial designs happened by dragging the water from the skittle to the center of the plate with a popsicle stick and also swirling the water.
Students were engaged, they were collaborating, and they were having fun. Research has suggested that play is an important part of human development. While this research tends to focus more on child development, studies on adolescents and adults are finding that people that tend to be more playful, are often less likely to report high levels of stress and are often more creative. These students came into my studio that day with black clouds hanging over their heads because they were trapped in school on a Friday when it was seventy degrees outside, and they left with smiles and giggles. I’m not a psychologist, but these students were definitely feeling better after a fun session of playful creativity.
Jill M. Anders, M.Ed.