Ephemeral Ideas for Handbuilding Dawn Holder, Univ of the Ozarks

Some ideas for pieces that would celebrate clay in its impermanent states

 Students that don’t have clay could use other plastic materials (For any of my students who weren’t able to get their clay, I was going to suggest they experiment with other plastic, malleable materials. Dough, play dough, polymer clay, papier-mâché, gum, etc?)



*For this category, consider setting up a time lapse. Or make a short video. Or a series of multiple photos.


Make a beautiful cup or vessel out of clay. Wait for it to become bone dry. Fill it with water and document it as it dissolves. Would it be interesting to document yourself holding it or attempting to drink from it? (Linda Swanson)


Make a sculptural of a simplified human figure (or animal). Let the sculpture become bone dry. Set up a situation so that the sculpture interacts with water and document what happens. You could put it outside on a rainy day, slowly pour water over it, put it in a stream, spray it with a hose, etc. (Beth Cavener, Shay Church)


The Body

Create a small object out of clay. Something precious. Create a photo that shows you interacting with the work somehow. Don’t show your whole body, just a close up. (Since we are sharing these, let’s not create anything rated R). (Bailey Arend)


Create a mask out of wet clay that expresses a strong emotion. Document yourself wearing it. Think about your clothing, body language, and posture. Does your body language reinforce or contradict the emotion of the mask? (Teri Frame)



Create a new life form by taking parts of two or three different living things and combining them together. Document this new life form in its natural habitat. (Kate McDowell)


Create a colony of small organisms and attach them to something. The organisms could be microorganisms, lichen, fungi, insects, tiny plants, etc. The form should be simple so you can make a lot. What do they grow on? How do they interact with their host? (David Katz)



Create a small scene with at least three components and place it somewhere unexpected. Your placement should create a strong contrast of scale, so the viewer seems to have stumbled in on a tiny world. (Charles Simmons, Kristen Morgin)

Create a simple vessel form and cut a hole or portal in it. Build a small scene that occurs in the interior space. How does light enter into your tiny space? What can we see? What might be obscured by the vessel? (Walter Martin & Paloma Muñoz)


Posted on

March 20, 2020

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