Making Clay Dogs At The Mansion

Jean and Georgiana making their clay dogs

The last time I made a dog out of clay I was in elementary school.  But I’ve learned a few things since then.

I hauled the 25 lbs of clay into my studio this morning and shaped a small piece of it into a dog.  Then I made another one,  this time, paying attention to  how I did it and thinking about how I would teach someone else to do it.

The cardinal rule, that I learned when I was a Teaching Assistant in art school, came back to me.  Always work from the general to the specific.  Detail comes last.

I broke the dog down into simple parts. Body, head, neck, legs, tail, nose, ears.   They all started out as either round balls, or oblong rolls of clay.

At the Mansion, Jean, Georgiana, Peggy and Madeline rolled and shaped clay, sometimes with my help, most of the time with just a few suggestions from me.


Peggy asked if she could make a clay dog of Red.  She made him a happy dog, with a big smile.


Madeline gave up before finishing.  She’s like to draw but isn’t as interested in working with clay.

“I used to love playing with clay when I was a kid.” Georgiana told me.  As soon as she had a piece of clay in her hand she shaped it into a pinch pot.  I was surprised and not so surprised.  It does seem the most natural thing to do with clay, something us humans have been doing forever.

Georgiana’s  dog looked more like a sheep, until she put a long tail on it and called it a dog.  Then  she held it up to her head, like a unicorn’s horn and Jean stated laughing so hard she couldn’t stop. Georgiana will wait for the clay to dry then she wants to paint a saddle on the dog’s back and a bow around its neck.

Jean let me help her with the details.

All three women looked at their dogs like they were just lumps of clay until they put on their ears and drew their faces and they came alive.


5 thoughts on “Making Clay Dogs At The Mansion

  1. Love the photos. Everyone looks like they had fun with this project and I think they did a darn good job sculpting those dogs. Kind of you, Maria to take the time to bring some joy into these residents’ lives. And now they’ll each have a remembrance of Red that they created. Nice!

  2. I loved this, Maria. I think the “general then specific” can be used for so many things in life! Thinking generally can work us into the feelings about what we want, and then think specifics about what we actually need to do. That’s some great Law of Attraction stuff there!

    1. Hm I never thought of it that way Karla, That’s really interesting. Art is such a great teacher in so many ways, it really demands that we pay attention. I totally missed this one.

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