Pop Art Clay Portraits – Lesson Plan
Pop Art Clay Portraits – Lesson Plan

In the 1950s,
Andy Warhol created silkscreen portraits
of celebrities using mass-produced images and non-traditional
blocks of colour, which became Pop Art icons. I’m going to show you a fun
and easy technique to transfer and duplicate
images onto clay tiles. Then, by adding interesting
colour combinations, students can create
their own Pop Art self portraits. Hi, I’m Mary Skydema and I’d like to introduce you
to Pop Art Clay Portraits. First, have students find
a photograph of themselves and make a black
and white copy of it. A close up works best, and it should be
as simple as possible. You’ll want your work tables
to be covered in canvas to keep the clay
from sticking. A white clay body works best
for vibrant colour and you can cut the slabs
right from the block. I’ve rolled a slab of clay
about a quarter inch thick. A thickness strip on
each side of the slab helps to keep the slab even, and you want to roll both ways
across the slab to align the clay particles and reduce your chances
of warping later. The slab is just slightly
larger than the image I’m going to use. So have your students
decide which features of the photograph will need to be transferred
to make the most effective, simplified line drawing. I’m going to use a gel pen to
go over the lines of the photo that I’m going to
transfer to the clay. I like to mark
the four corners for ease of cutting later. I just like to put small
little marks in the corners with my gel pen that I’m going to
use as a guide. So we’re going to place
the image face down onto the clay and rub it
with your fingers. We’re just going to let it
sit for a few seconds. We’re going to peel up
the paper to check the transfer. If it’s not quite dark enough,
wait a few more seconds and remove the paper. If your clay is
slightly drier, a little mist on the back of
the paper will do the trick. Your portrait has transferred, and as you can see
it’s now a mirror image. At this point I’m going to use
a ruler to cut the slab into a tile. I’m using these little marks I left as a guide
on the corners. Okay, and you can just smooth
the edges of the tile slightly with a little water
on your fingertips, and then we’re
going to start carving. Now we’re going to use
a small ribbon tool to carve into our image. This soft slab can
very easily be carved. Some might prefer to let
the clay stiffen slightly, and you’ll figure out
which you prefer. In addition to using
these ribbon tools to carve, you can also just use
a single layer of a baggie, place it over the tile, and use a pen
to just go over your lines. This is going to result in
a nice smooth edge without burrs. You can see
how that turns out. Try not to move the tile
other than to flip it over once or twice
for even drying. When the tile
is completely dry, or fired,
it’s time to apply colour. I like to fill all my
carved lines in with black paint to
mimic the black outline many of the Pop artists used. If your tile is fired, you can paint black
acrylic paint into the lines. I’m just moistening it
a little bit with clear water. I’m just going to take some
plain old black acrylic and brush it over about
a 1/4 of the tile a time. Got to move a little bit quickly
so that you don’t have a whole lot remove, then you just go back
with your sponge, and wipe off
the surface of the tile. It’s going to leave the black
acrylic in the carved areas. If your tile is made
of air dry clay, the black paint must be
painted into the carved areas. Now with a small brush
we can apply colour. For this project
Blick Studio Acrylics gives good coverage on either the fire tile
or the air dry one. Pastels are another option,
but should be sprayed with a fixative as a last step. Oil colours also work well,
and give a very deep colour saturated
finished product, and ceramic underglazes look great as is or with
a clear glaze on top. A PDF version of
this lesson plan, along with a materials list
and national standards are available on
the Blick Lesson Plans page. Captioned by GigEcast

37 thoughts on “Pop Art Clay Portraits – Lesson Plan”

  1. Samiya Shah says:

    POP gets dry very soon almost in 5mins. how to do basic outline on pop.

  2. adrienne gellman says:


  3. artsy fartsy stuff says:

    easier than this is to simply place paper on clay and trace on paper to clay with round tip tool or pen tip

  4. Lorri Carnevale says:

    Awesome another great idea to add to my designing thank you

  5. Reagan Miller says:

    Can you use polymer clay?

  6. aroosha sabah says:

    which clay is this can you please name it?

  7. Gnei Sharina Salim says:

    Wow …….Wow…….. it is so so beautiful thank you keep it up

  8. Sharina Salim says:

    This is so beautiful.. this clay that you are using is not available in my country can I use Air Dry Natural clay. I really want to try this can you please any substitute clay that I can use.
    Thank you so much for this lovely tutorial………

  9. Laurie Richard says:

    Would gel pen transfer to other mediums like air dry clay or cold porcelain?

  10. NABIL ELGAMAL says:

    Very good wow

  11. tressinar says:

    Really nice. Thank you

  12. sandy clair says:

    Love you site! Go STEAM!

  13. phillyflyboy says:


  14. Geetika Lohani says:

    Hi. Can acrylic colours be used for the painting..

  15. Jackie Carter says:

    I have been trying for some time to transfer a drawing onto wet ADC, with not much luck. I've tried gel pens (transfers very faint), and felt tip pens (this looked great, but within an hour it was 'melting' and disappeared into the ADC. I tried the ball point pen (with high hopes after reading your suggestion below), and it did nothing as well. I am dampening the paper on the back to transfer the image, and have gone from regular computer paper to thicker, nearly card stock. Any other suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Thanking you in advance.

  16. NANDANA M K says:


  17. rashmi patil says:

    Which clay u have used?

  18. Ramu D says:

    Nice mam

  19. Priyanka Mahankali says:

    Can we use salt dough or cold porcelain. Please reply me fast. I would like to do it for my hubby for valentine's day. Please reply me

  20. chinna help says:

    which clay u used and nice video plss do visit on my channel also pls thanks for the information contained

  21. ami bhatt says:

    So awesome dear

  22. Barani Daran says:


  23. Sunny Sharma says:

    Amazing, thanks for upload

  24. Sridharan Sri says:

    Wat type of clay v should use…??

  25. kerajinan unik says:


  26. Reese Morris says:

    U ruined the face

  27. gatla srikanth says:

    Nice art madam

  28. Aitzaz. Ashrafi says:


  29. Tammy Jackson says:

    subscribed and liked

  30. laksh art says:

    nice technic

  31. Dusari Shiva Goud says:


  32. marten boroallo osean says:


  33. Mix ideas and creations says:

    Wow…. Nice video

  34. Pala Singh says:

    Very nice g

  35. edal61 says:

    Great instructional video. Wouldn't I have to flip the photo horizontally before transfering to the clay, as to avoid a flipped image?

  36. Umer Wayanad says:


  37. Dr Naresh Rathod says:

    Awesum Video and Technique. Keep making more. 😊👍
    Also like my Video and help me grow.
    Dr. Naresh Rathod.

  38. Nai'eemah's World says:

    Perfect for homeschool projects

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