Teach This: Lady and Laddie Bugs

When Stone Leaf Pottery heads to Colorado Art Education Association’s conference each fall, we work hard to create unique and easy lesson plans for teachers to bring back to their classrooms. Here is a not-so-long-ago favorite, handbuilding lady bugs… and what’s a “boy” lady bug called? A laddie bug, of course!

Ladybugs Small and Large                

1. For small ladybug, make a ball of clay the size of a large ping pong ball. Elongate just slightly.

For large ladybug, take about two ping pong balls of clay.  Make pinch pot bowl about 1/3” thick.  Elongate slightly. Since these bugs do not need to be water tight, this is a great opportunity to use scraps of left over clays, or introduce a colored clay body into your classroom. For our bugs, we used Laguna’s Cone 10 Los Altos Clay, as we **love** the bisque fired color. 

2. Use finger to smooth clay. If needed, press finger to damp sponge if clay is too dry. Do not use wet sponge on clay since it will raise the grog and make your piece rough.

3. Flatten body by taping one side down on the table. Take wood knife tool and from the center of the back of the body, make line that goes straight back (for wings).

4. Use wood tool to make a crease the head.  A solid ball can be scored, wet, and attached instead. For solid head, allow extra drying days.

5. Make a second ring to separate body from head and wings.

6. To “separate” wings from back of body, make 2 lines off of main center line at approximately 45 degrees – creates peace symbol look.

7. For smaller eyes and dots: use the butt end of the pencil (or similar instrument) and make indentations on the “wings” to create the “spots”. (FYI: spots do not correlate with age and each species has a different pattern.)

8. For larger eyes and ladybug spots, roll small balls, score, wet, and attach. Indent if you wish.  Firmly indenting will make the attachment stronger.  Tip: roll a coil, then cut into equal segments for same size eyes and dots.

9. Dry for about 2 weeks, then candle, then SLOWLY bisque to cone 04.  Always, when firing bisque, any water trapped inside a piece has to have time to evaporate to prevent pots from exploding.  Thicker pieces take longer to dry.

10. *** Amaco Velvet underglazes can be applied to wet clay, to dry greenware, and even after bisque firing.  They are extremely user friendly and come in a wide array of colors.  Follow with clear glaze before glaze firing, or if you’ll  only be firing once, spray a ceramic fixative on pieces after bisque firing.
Other favorite glazes can be used as well.