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How To Build Clay Pinch Pot Animals

Kids, clay, pinch pots and animals all go hand in hand. Normally all children love sculpting and creating their own clay animal pinch pot. In this post, we will show you how to create your own easy ceramic elephant clay sculpture

clay elephant pinch pot art project in blue glaze.

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What age is this project good for?

We have done this project with 4th graders and older. Previous knowledge of how to attach clay will be beneficial. The biggest challenge to this clay elephant is that they have to create balance to get the elephant to stand on its feet. Some children may need a little extra assistance with this.

What is scoring?

In clay, you score or make small lines to the pieces you are attaching. This helps the pieces attach together.

clay pinch pot and one piece of clay with score lines on them

Why do you not use slip with kids?

In 14 years, the method of just scoring and adding water has worked very well for these simple clay art ideas. The biggest reason this would not work is if your clay is not moist enough. Fresh clay or normally even clay from the previous year should work.

You can have students blend the seams with their fingers to help make sure items won’t fall off.

How to glaze your clay elephant?

We like using a simple color for this project. You can let children use as many glaze colors as possible, but this clay build looks awesome with just one color like Moody Blue glaze. Just make sure they glaze everywhere with 3 coats of glaze except the bottom of the feet.

Mayco Moody Blue glaze being applied to clay elephant with paintbrush.

Do you have to build an elephant?

Absolutely not. Older children should be able to come up with their own animal pinch pot idea. First, I would have them create at least 3 different sketches. The hardest part for kids during this project is getting their clay project to stand.

Therefore, if a kid is struggling you can help them change the design to have the animal lay down so that the pinch pot is touching the table. Naturally, a few of their designs may do this and it will make it easier.

Concepts Needed Before Beginning

  • how to score and “slip” to attach the clay together
  • not to make clay details too thick or too thin
  • blending seams with fingers to help ensure attachment
  • using a little water to help smooth out rough or dry areas

Step-by-Step Instructions

Step 1: Split Clay

Start with a larger ball of clay that can fit inside a child’s hand. Split a little bit off the hunk of clay. The bigger chunk of clay can be rolled into a ball.

Ball of clay in hand over clay placemat.

Step 2: Make A Pinch Pot Base

Have kids push 4 holes with their thumbs as far as they can go without going through. 

thumb pushing in 4 thumbprints in clay ball to start making pinch pot.

Use your hands to pinch around the edge and make sure not to make walls too thin. The walls should probably be around 1/8” thick to support the shell when flipped on its side.

hand making pinch pot by squeezing clay walls.

Kids can squeeze the shape of their pinch pot to make it a little longer like an actual body of an animal.

hand squeezing clay pinch pot to make it a little longer.

Step 3: Create Slab Ears

Begin creating the head of your elephant by creating a small slab with some of the extra clay. Use a wooden skewer to cut out the basic ear shape.

This will also be the base to attach the head and trunk.

hand using wooden skewer to cut elephant ear shape.

Step 4: Build Head & Trunk

Construct a head and trunk out of more clay.

clay elephant trunk on clay placemat with pinch pot in the background.

Step 5: Continue Sculpting Trunk & Head

Use a skewer and fingers to pinch the end of the trunk for a more realistic feel.

hands using wooden skewer to make elephant trunk out of clay.

Step 6: Score And Attach The Head & Trunk

Add score lines to the back of the head and elephant ears. Use a little water to create “fake slip” and attach the head and trunk. Follow the same scoring method with water to attach the head to the pinch pot.

score lines on clay elephant trunk and scoring on pinch pot animal body.

Step 7: Build Elephant Feet

Carefully flip the clay project over. We supported our elephant with paper towels so that we could work on making clay feet without smashing the head.

Build similar sized clay feet that will be able to support the weight of your clay pinch pot and head.

clay elephant pinch pot project with clay elephant legs waiting to be attached.

Step 8: Attach Feet By Scoring

Attach clay feet to the bottom of your pinch pot. Make sure that you put the front feet as far up the pinch pot as possible.

hand holding clay elephant leg with scoring on it and pinch pot elephant.

Step 9: Blend Clay Seam With Finger

Make sure the clay legs are attached completely. Blending the seam with your finger should help.

finger blending clay elephant leg on elephant art project.

Step 10: Check For Balance

Once all feet are attached well, flip the clay elephant over and adjust the feet as needed to balance the weight.

view of the bottom of the elephant clay feet.

The ends or feet of your elephant may become a little larger, but that works if it is supporting the weight.

pinch pot clay elephant art project.

Step 11: Adding Finishing Touches

Kids can use water to smooth out any rough areas and add details such as eyes. We always instruct them that a little goes a long way and to not make “mud pie”.

hand using skewer to poke in eyes for animal pinch pot project.

Step 12: Add Initials or Name To The Bottom

An adult should write the kid’s name on the bottom of the pinch pot with a sharp skewer or needle tool.

Clay elephant with pinch pot body.

Step 13: Let Dry And Bisque Fire

Let dry for about a week. Once the clay is not cool to the touch, run a bisque fire in your kiln.

Step 14: Add Color

Glaze bisque-fired clay or paint. We used Mayco Stroke and Coat in Moody Blue. The simplistic nature of just using one color works well for this ceramic project. However, it is really up to the artist to make that decision.

small blue cup of glaze with pinch pot animal in the background.

Get our tips for using clay glaze in the art room.

clay elephant pinch pot art project in blue glaze.

Not only is your clay elephant awesome, but kids can store their trinkets and fun things in the pinch pot animal body.

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Clay Pinch Pot Animal

5 from 1 vote
This clay pinch pot project is perfect for upper elementary and middle school students. They can make a clay elephant or their own clay pinch pot animal following the tutorial below.
Print Tutorial
clay elephant pinch pot art project in blue glaze.
Prep:10 minutes
Creating:1 hour 30 minutes
Additional Time:9 hours
Total Time:10 hours 40 minutes

Equipment

  • Wooden Skewer
  • Work Surface or placemat
  • Small container of water

Supplies

  • White Low-Fire Art Clay
  • Clay Glaze

Instructions

  • Start with a larger ball of clay that can fit inside a child’s hand.
  • Split a little bit off the hunk of clay. The bigger chunk of clay can be rolled into a ball.
  • Have kids push one hole with their thumbs as far as they can go without going through.
  • Use hands to pinch around the edge and make sure not to make walls too thin. The walls should probably be around 1/8” thick to support the shell when flipped on its side.
  • Kids can squeeze the shape of their pinch pot to make it a little longer like an actual body of an animal.
  • Begin creating the head of your elephant by creating a small slab with some of the extra clay. Use a wooden skewer to cut out the basic ear shape.
  • Construct a head and trunk out of more clay. Use a skewer and fingers to pinch the end of the trunk for a more realistic feel.
  • Add score lines to the back of the head and elephant ears. Use a little water to create “fake slip” and attach the head and trunk.
  • Follow the same scoring method with water to attach the head to the pinch pot.
  • Carefully flip the clay pinich pot over. We supported our elephant with paper towels so that we could work on making clay feet without smashing the head.
  • Build similar sized clay feet that will be able to support the weight of your clay pinch pot and head.
  • Attach clay feet to the bottom of your pinch pot. Make sure that you put the front feet as far up the pinch pot as possible.
  • Flip the clay elephant over and adjust the feet as needed to balance the weight. The ends or feet of your elephant may become a little larger, but that works if it is supporting the weight.
  • Kids can use water to smooth out any rough areas. We always instruct them that a little goes a long way and to not make “mud pie”.

Notes

  • If building a different pinch pot animal, create at least 3 different sketches before beginning.
  • The hardest part for kids during this project is getting their clay project to stand. Therefore, if a child is having difficulty consider creating an animal that is laying down with its feet out in front.
  • An adult should write the kid’s name or initials on the bottom of the pinch pot with a sharp skewer or needle tool.
Author: Erin
Cost: Less than $5

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