A couple of weeks before Mother's day I decided I needed some inspiration for a fun project to do with my art students. I took to scrolling through Instagram, as I often do, and came across the feed of an art teacher from Minnesota, Leah Schultz @doubleloadedpaint. She had created some beautiful flower plaques with her students as a fundraiser for her school, and they were stunning. I decided this would make the perfect gift for any mother figure in my artists's lives.
I always try to fit a clay project of some type into each of my sessions because kids LOVE clay. However, the woman I rent kiln space from was out of town, and I was struggling to come up with a way to work it into the curriculum. The beauty of Leah's project was that it required Crayola Model Magic. That's right...not kiln-fired or air-dry clay, but Model Magic. I had not been a huge fan of this stuff until now, because I had no idea how versatile it was. For example, we used only white Model Magic for the entire project, because I learned that you can paint it, or use markers to color and mix it into the clay. That meant I didn't need to spend extra dollars on all the colors, and I turned that portion of the project into a color-mixing lesson.
On the first day, we choose/mixed colors to paint the wooden plaques. I encouraged one solid color for their backgrounds, since we wanted the emphasis to be on their flowers. Once we began sculpting the flowers, we talked about layering and discovered how the flowers would pop off the wooden plaque to create a 3-D effect, but needed to be flat on the backside to allow them to be attached to the board. Other than the handout I provided of some flowers that I drew, that was the only instruction I gave for creating flowers. They could sculpt what ever was in their imagination.There wasn't one child that felt uncomfortable with this material, and several students demonstrated how to construct their designs for others to create. Inspiration filled the studio, and it was beautiful to watch their creativity unfold. One student turned her bouquet into an incredible sea-life menagerie. Another student kept to a single color scheme and worked with a variety of values within that single hue.
I had two age groups do the project: Jr. Apprentices (ages 9-12) who have a 2-hour class, and Art Enthusiasts (ages 7-9) who meet for 1.5 hours. Both classes were given the challenge of creating approximately 25 flowers, in order to fill their boards. Some did this very easily, others needed a bit of coaxing. I encouraged the artists to include a variety of shapes and sizes to their compositions to add contrast. For those that built more slowly, I suggested creating a large statement flower for emphasis, to enhance the overall design, as well as fill dead space on their plaque.
We used one daisy mold, and several types of texture tools for visual interest. A few students did a great job of creating shapes of more abstracted flowers, which were eye-catching as well.
The majority of the students chose to paint the flowers with Jack Richeson Tempura pucks. Once dry, I sprayed them with acrylic gloss which needed to dry before we glued them to our plaques. So in the meantime, they created wrapping paper for their gifts.
Model Magic is very lightweight once its dry, which made glueing with Elmer's All Glue very simple. To complete the project, they used leaves cut from felt and tulle, in addition to any clay leaves they made. The felt added additional texture and unified the overall composition with movement and rhythmic pops of color.
This project took us two class times to complete to allow for drying time. The older students have a longer class time, so they were able to create more flowers and their plaques were a bit more full. But all of them were really beautiful and the kids were truly proud of their work! Most of them flew out the door without being photographed, which always happens when the project is fun and engaging.
If you are looking for an easy, mess-free material to work with at home, I highly suggest investing in a case of white Model Magic (I recommend the small individual packs), and a package of markers. The creative possibilities are truly endless with this medium!