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Lou_847

Building the first 3D course at my High School, resources or rough cost estimates needed!

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Hello all!

I'm the only secondary art teacher at my middle school/high school and I've been pushing to expand the art program so student's have access to a variety of art making techniques. I'm trying to convince my admin that we need a 3D Art class (ceramics, sculpture, pottery..) and they want an estimate as to how much it will cost initially and then each year as we renew supplies. I have nooooo idea where to start. We already have a kiln, kiln furniture, and a class set of clay carving tools/sponges. We won't have the space for a full ceramics studio (wheels, glaze room, damp room, pugmill, etc.) but I'd like to teach handbuilding, assemblage, subtractive/addative sculpture in a variety of materials, and mayyybe get one wheel for the occasional pottery assignment.

I'm looking for information from someone that's already built their studio up, any books or resources to help, or even suggestions on how to pitch costs to admin in a way that they'll be willing to hand over money to the art dept. Thank you in advance!!

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Welcome to the Forums. 

Of course you need a 3-D Course!  Without it, you are literally missing half of the artistic processes.  Make sure the Administration knows that!

You've got the kiln, which is the big ticket item.  Some wheels would be nice, but aren't necessary...YET!  You can always work up to those, once you get the program established.

In regards to materials and cost, it all depends, on what you are trying to do.  I offer a 3-D Art course, but we only do clay work.  When I started at the District, I went with what the previous teacher(s) had done, and did some plaster wrapping/ carving, wire sculpture, etc.  But as a clay person, I also fit in some clay projects.  I found, that there wasn't time to give the students the exposure to the clay, that they needed.  It was nigh impossible to give them a good experience with all the hand building techniques, and the wheel.  So, the following Semester I went to all clay, with a plaster wrapping project, towards the end, as the clay was drying and firing. 

The reason that I felt comfortable going to only clay, was that it allows the students to experience all of the sculptural processes, with no drawbacks, other than drying and firing time.  The clay is endlessly recyclable, allows for easy additive, easy subtractive processes, and can be used to make utilitarian wares. 

If you are going only, or at least mainly, with clay, it's not very costly.  Clay is *dirt* cheap (*Holds for laughter and applause*).  I have two to three classes a year, and try to maintain around a ton of clay, at the start of the year.  We reclaim as much as we can, which is a huge money saver. 

Basic sets of tools, are quite cheap as well.  I have numbered sets that I made, so the students have assigned tools, that they are responsible for, from the beginning of the Semester, to the end.  I tell them, that if a tool is lost or broke (beyond normal wear and tear) they are responsible for replacing them.  It rarely comes up, that I have to have students pay for a lost or damaged tool. 

You're going to want some ware/ project boards.  Those can purchased fairly cheap, or made yourself even cheaper. 

The biggest cost, is glaze and underglaze.  I purchase all of mine, but some current and former teachers here, have made their own, for their classrooms.  Glaze and underglazes aren't necessary to the process, and if you're not making functional wares, you could always just use paint.

So let's say, you are just getting clay.  Depending on how many projects you are doing, and how many sections you have, it will cost you *approximately* $500 for the clay (If you get as much as I do).  If you are getting glazes and underglazes, add a few hundred.

It doesn't have to be expensive. 

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lou, where are you?

wherever you are there are probably potters who have some older tools or equipment that they might donate or sell very cheaply.   have your school get an article in the local newspaper or whatever is in use in your area asking for these things.   maybe it will spark interest in the project by the PTA who might take on a project for you.   there is a lot of interest in art and craft these days, take advantage of it.   just look at pinterest!

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@Wolf That's a fantastic idea! Maybe we can start selling current student work to help with the initial course creation. I think admin will dig it. Thanks

@BenzineThanks, the forums seems to have a wealth of knowledge.  and WOW, you have helped me IMMENSELY! Thanks for taking the time to lay it all out. I figured mixing in plaster/wire/assemblage projects would cheapen the overall costs, but now that you lay it out I can see that stick with clay really is the cheapest way to go. How many classes/students use the ton of clay you buy for the year? And when you say that you buy the clay but others don't, does that mean they buy powders and mix it themselves while you buy mixed glaze in liquid form? 

@oldlady Another great idea, thank you! I'm in Salt Lake, and we do have lots of potters here. I know what I'll be doing this summer! 

 

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19 minutes ago, Lou_847 said:

 

@BenzineThanks, the forums seems to have a wealth of knowledge.  and WOW, you have helped me IMMENSELY! Thanks for taking the time to lay it all out. I figured mixing in plaster/wire/assemblage projects would cheapen the overall costs, but now that you lay it out I can see that stick with clay really is the cheapest way to go. How many classes/students use the ton of clay you buy for the year? And when you say that you buy the clay but others don't, does that mean they buy powders and mix it themselves while you buy mixed glaze in liquid form? 

 

 

There is no reason, you can't still do some mixed media pieces, with clay, wire, wood, etc. 

I have two to three sections of 3-D Art a year, with around 20 students in each.  So somewhere around 60 kids.  I usually figure that each kid will use a 50 lb. box, which would equal a ton and a half of clay.  It never ends up being that much, as we do reclaim/ recycle A LOT.

I buy mostly premixed, liquid glazes, with a couple that are dry, that I mix myself.  Some potter's and teachers prefer the dry glazes, because they can adjust the thickness to their liking, and because they aren't paying for shipping water weight.  I get all my liquid glazes from Dick Blick, who offers free shipping to schools, so weight is never a concern.  I recommend premixed glazes, if you are just starting out. 

Also, what kind of clay are you planning to go with?  Low Fire, Mid Fire?  What temp, is your kiln rated for?  Also, Is the kiln in good condition, and is it hooked up?  I do Low Fire, in my classroom, because the firings are relatively quick, compared to Mid Fire.  So, at the end of a Semester, I can have fast turn around, for loading and unloading. 

I would also suggest  a white, or lighter colored clay, as they are less likely to stain the student's clothes. 

Things to think about.

 

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16 minutes ago, Benzine said:

Also, what kind of clay are you planning to go with?  Low Fire, Mid Fire?  What temp, is your kiln rated for?  Also, Is the kiln in good condition, and is it hooked up?  I do Low Fire, in my classroom, because the firings are relatively quick, compared to Mid Fire.  So, at the end of a Semester, I can have fast turn around, for loading and unloading. 

I would also suggest  a white, or lighter colored clay, as they are less likely to stain the student's clothes. 

 

We have an electric kiln and I am most familiar with firing to cone 6, so I have been figuring everything according to that. I think it will be very much worth looking into low firing options though, for the reasons you mentioned.  

Thanks for the great tip of using lighter clays for the sake of the student's clothes. They wear uniforms, so keeping them clean is important to admin and parents alike!

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On 3/19/2019 at 1:23 PM, Lou_847 said:

Hello all!

I'm the only secondary art teacher at my middle school/high school and I've been pushing to expand the art program so student's have access to a variety of art making techniques. I'm trying to convince my admin that we need a 3D Art class (ceramics, sculpture, pottery..) and they want an estimate as to how much it will cost initially and then each year as we renew supplies. Tough position for you to be in here as in my HS situation there was the guidance department, and the teachers. Teachers were always trying to run quality programs, guidance counselors were trying to fill schedules. Many times the needs of most had to compromise. Then comes along the enterprising teacher trying to build up a program, but at the same time being the only teacher one thing or another may have to give. Difficult choices to be made. If the program is elected by students, and becomes popular, is there a gate way to control the influx. Then again too, if too popular and a program is booming, is there need to expand the staff to meet the need. Interesting problem to look forward to?? 

I have nooooo idea where to start. We already have a kiln, kiln furniture, and a class set of clay carving tools/sponges. We won't have the space for a full ceramics studio (wheels, glaze room, damp room, pugmill, etc.) but I'd like to teach handbuilding, assemblage, subtractive/addative sculpture in a variety of materials, and mayyybe get one wheel for the occasional pottery assignment.

As Ben has already said, you have a good start on equipment, with much of the larger stuff in place. Sometimes there is a need for more funding, especially in tight situations and budgets. I found that I could not buy new equipment for my own program years ago, and also had a bunch of people that kept asking me if I could teach classes in Ceramics. Two of these were secretaries to the Superintendent. They kept asking, and I put them off for a few years and then relented with some proviso's  :They had to convince the Administration to do it allowing me to teach on Saturday's in the school, The Administration had to set up and account allowing me to save money(Standard accounts for courses/teachers ended at the end of the school year-unused money went into the General fund), I would teach the class charging tuition of $60 dollars and not ask anything for my time, A lab fee would be also required for materials based on a fee set by me based on fired pound usage.  Over 20 years, I purchased wheels, extuders, griffin grips, scales, hand tools, tables, chairs, and lots of odds and ends. It worked so well for me that it is still taught today by the Ceramics teacher now there. . . .I retired in 2009.  Over the years I had principles, federal program people, outsider, teachers, and many others that would take the course over and over in February and March. Most times I had 15 people, and the last year I had so many I taught a morning and an afternoon session. Add up the money!

As far as materials, clay is cheap, as Ben has said. I did have many years of commercial powdered glazes, first Amaco, then Minnesota Clay and ART. In the end I used some Commercial glazes, and mostly ^6 in house glazes that I had been collecting formulas for for years. Held down the cost of glazes in that manner. As some like the white clays, I did go for a speckled stoneware from SC 112. There is much to say for a good clay that is plastic and works well. Be careful of buying any clay without testing them out. As far as firings, once you get the hang of it, any range works.. . you just have to plan it out. Good luck. . . for some you are in an envious position, I did this once, and never lost my love of it. . . good luck!

I'm looking for information from someone that's already built their studio up, any books or resources to help, or even suggestions on how to pitch costs to admin in a way that they'll be willing to hand over money to the art dept. Thank you in advance!!

 

Best,

Pres

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@Pres Thank you for your thoughtful response! I can't decide if I'm crazy or a noble warrior for my students haha. This is going to be a lot of work that won't be recognized or rewarded in any way....but If I don't expand the horizon for my students, I'm afraid no one will!! 

I'll keep you guys posted on my progress. 

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