Rainbow Rachel's Tips to Perfecting a Clay Mug - LAB Art Studio
At LAB Studio, our Sculpture classes for kids are great for those who like to use a little more muscle and build things from scratch. Materials include earthenware clay to create a 3D masterpiece. We also provide step-by-step clay wheel and hand-building lessons for adults too!
For those who are coming across LAB for the very first time, my name is Rainbow Rachel and I help create fun clay projects for kids and adults with Messy Jessy! Here’s a little bit about me:
I am a clay enthusiast! I love all things clay and devote my practice as an artist to this beautiful and archival material. I was first introduced to ceramics during an art camp way back and while I dabbled in many other mediums of art. I was fascinated as a young aspiring artist to see how clay can be both a 2D and 3D surface for colour and imagery.
When I moved back to Vancouver from Hong Kong, I met the most amazing art teacher in my last year in high school. She taught me how to properly throw on a clay wheel and even showed me how to make ceramic glazes! It gave me the opportunity to teach ceramics at Kitsilano Highschool. Shortly after, to pursue my own practice, I applied to study at Emily Carr University of Art + Design, and I am soon approaching the end of my BFA!
I feel very fortunate to be teaching at LAB. I enjoy all the fun and sweet moments with my students, and I love being asked all the sophisticated questions about clay. In our weekly sculpture classes for kids, we learn to build complex forms from simple shapes. We start with common forms like mugs, plates and bowls, then advance to wavy vases, hollow forms and mini dioramas. Playing off of our monthly themes, not only do we create unique pieces inspired by the artist of the month, we also get to learn a little about clay history! We introduce special clay tools and how to use them safely. In sculpture, we focus on recognizing shapes and texture, and appreciating the personality and handmade look of each student’s work. On the other hand, clay wheel classes are for those who are feeling confident with playing with clay and are ready to dive a little deeper into the craft. I recommend it best for older kids and adults because the clay wheel can sometimes be scary for beginners and younger children (it spins very fast!). The wheel is best for making symmetrical forms like cylinders for plant pots or circles for dishes. These classes are closely supervised and taught step-by-step. Pieces made on our wheels can then be dipped in our fancy glazes and come out looking very professional. Perfect for gifting!
Why do I choose to work with art? Because it allows me to be poetic and think beyond what we see and do everyday. When I am playing with clay, it feels like we are having a little dance! The plasticity of a clay feels very much like a moving body in your hands. Plasticity is measured by how workable a clay body is at a specific level of moisture, you can tell by wrapping a coil around your finger and -oops! I can get too nerdy talking about clay! I believe clay is a perfect way for kids to practice their motor skills and think in both 2D and 3D. As we grow up to draw and write on flat surfaces, we become less aware of how our eyes and our hands communicate. Playing with clay can remind our brains our world is multidimensional. It can also improve our ability to create images from our imagination. One of my favourite things to do with clay is make gifts for those I love. Here are some gifts I made that might inspire you!
I also love making clay mugs to put my favourite art tools in!
Here’s my 3 best tips and tricks to create the perfect little mug:
Did you know the easiest way to build a mug is to work from slabs? A slab is an evenly rolled out flat piece of clay. In most cases, all you need is a long slab for the body, a circular piece for the base and a thin piece for the handle.
A sturdy rolling pin is your best friend when you are rolling out your slabs. Or, a used glass bottle will do the trick too!
Seal the edges with extra clay to make sure your drink does not escape while you are sipping away!
This summer, look out for our upcoming Sculpture weekly classes for kids!
We are also introducing clay wheel sculpting to kids 11 to 15 every Wednesday and Friday evenings starting in July.
If you’re a big kid at heart, feel free to reach out and book a private clay building workshop with us too!