Are you looking for a quick and easy clay project? This simple clay slab ceramic project is perfect for you. Find out how you can build this slab cat project with kids in under 25 minutes.
The artist, Laurel Burch, can be used as inspiration for this simple clay slab cat project. This easy clay project can be built in one class (and we all know how much easier that is). Explore different ways to create texture in clay and encourage children to create their own unique cats.
Who was Laurel Burch?
According to Laurel Burch Studios, Laurel Bruch was an artist that was born in 1945. In the 1960’s she began creating colorful and playful artworks in San Francisco, CA. Now her artworks can be found reproduced on all sorts of items from T-shirts to bags.
I actually scored this bag at a garage sale and the kids really do love seeing artwork and designs in person.
Laurel Burch did not have any formal training as an artist. Wikipedia notes that she always struggled with osteoporosis and had over 100 different bone breaks in her lifetime. She still overcame her physical obstacles to share her creativity with the world.
By talking about her life with children, you are able to get them to see how people preserve and overcome tough times.
Not to mention her patterned cat and other animal artworks that are perfect to discuss with young children. They love how playful, colorful and creative these artworks are.
What age is this ceramic project for?
If you help children premake a slab, you can do this with any age child. Younger than 6 years old may need help really make sure they do not cut through the clay when designing. As with any fine motor skill, some kids will be able to understand this while others will still not be able to control the pressure they apply.
- White Art Clay
- Wooden Skewer
- Small Placemat or work surface
- Small container of water
- Rolling pin (for the teacher if pre-making slabs)
- Cat Template
Before You Begin
We like to build these clay cats after we have completed doing an easy cat drawing inspired by Laurel Burch.
For this particular project, we like to make the slabs in advance so that there was enough time to build and clean up in a 40-minute class. You can choose to also have children roll their own slab if you prefer.
How To Make A Clay Slab Cat
Step 1: Pass Out Clay
Either pre-create each slab for the students or give each child a ball of clay. Create a clay slab by using a rolling pin to make a pancake large enough to fit the cat template.
Step 2: Line Up Template
Place the template on an even clay slab.
Step 3: Cut Out Cat Shape
Use a wood skewer to cut around the cat template.
Step 4: Remove Extra Clay
Pull the extra clay off the slab. Kids are always amazed at how this works!
Step 5: Make Tail
Roll a coil to be used as a tail from the extra clay that was cut off.
Step 6: Attach Clay Tail
Use score lines on the parts that you are attaching and use one finger dipped in water to “make fake clay slip”.
Step 7: Build and Attach Other Details
Create other relief parts of the cat. Score, add water and attach.
Step 8: Draw and Add Texture
Use a skewer or needle tool to draw other details and patterns.
Encourage students to draw in designs or stamp textures into the clay body.
Step 9: Add Name
An adult should flip over and write the child’s name on the back of the clay.
If you have an earlier finisher, you could print off the steps for our easy cat sketch they could work on at their seat.
Step 10: Let Dry
We like to let kid clay projects dry for about a week. However these are thin, so you probably could get away with them drying in 4 days. Just make sure they are not cool to the touch.
Step 11: Run Kiln
Run a bisque fire in your kiln according to the clay you order.
Options For Adding Color To Clay
- Watercolor paint
- Acrylic paint
- Glaze (our best tips for using clay glaze with children)
- Oil Pastel and ink resist
Can you really use oil pastels on clay?
Yes, it creates a different look on the finished clay. Making sure students really grind on the old oil pastels will get you rich colors. If doing an ink or acrylic wash, just make sure it is rinsed to the desired effect. Adding a clear coat or sparkly mod podge can also give a fun effect.
Since it is hard to load a kiln with glazed slabs, we decided to use a fun oil pastel technique on our clay cats. This just saved needing to run the kiln one more time and showcases the textures and designs that the kids make on their cats.
Steps For Using Oil Pastel Resist On Clay Cat
- Color clay by pushing hard. Make sure kids are careful in delicate areas.
- Kids can blend colors but really encourage clay to be covered with color.
- Make a ratio of 1:1 water and ink or black acrylic paint.
- Paint wash over the whole clay project.
- Run project under the sink.
- Let dry.
- Optional: Use a clear coat of your choice to finish the clay project.o
Need more easy clay projects for kids?
- Pinch pot monster
- Easiest pinch pot flower art lesson: awesome for that first clay project for young children
- Ceramic pinch pot owl: Some years we have completed this slab cat and other years we have made this easy clay build with 7 and 8 year-olds.
Kids will love their fun clay slab art projects.
Clay Cat Art Project
- Wooden Skewer
- Clay Placemat
- Small container of water
- White Art Clay Low Fire
- Oil Pastels
- Black Acrylic Paint
- Wooden Skewer
- Either pre-create each slab for the students or give each child a ball of clay.
- Create a slab by using a rolling pin to make a pancake large enough to fit the cat template.
- Place template on even clay slab.
- Use a wood skewer to cut around the cat template and pull the extra clay off the slab.
- Roll a coil to be used as a tail.
- Use score lines on the parts that you are attaching and use one finger dipped in water to “make fake clay slip”.
- Create other relief parts of the cat. Score, add water and attach.
- Use a skewer or needle tool to draw other details and patterns.
- Let dry. We like to let kid clay projects dry for about a week. However these are thin, so you probably could get away with them drying in 4 days. Just make sure they are not cool to the touch.
- Run a bisque fire in your kiln according to the clay you order.
- Add color by glazing, painting or even using oil pastels.
- An adult should carefully write the names on the back of the clay cats with a needle tool.
- An adult or teacher can have the slabs premade or can teach children how to make their own slab before beginning to form their clay cat.