How to create a troll’s head with clay

The Askeladden-project is now displayed right next to the entrance by the local library in Ulefoss, Norway. I was asked by an audience how the students created the trolls.

I combined the subjects: Norwegian and art in the literary project. You might think what do trolls have to do with Askeladden? In many of the Askeladden stories, the troll is portrayed as a large giant who ‘owns’ the Norwegian woods. Everyone seems to fear the troll. Askeladden who is looked upon by his family as a naïve character, he ironically conquers the troll.

If you have access to clay and a kiln at your school, your students can create a troll’s head.

Suitable for a small group, 10-15 students.

You need:

  • a kiln (to burn the clay)
  • clay
  • plastic bags
  • hard mats
  • rolling pin
  • ceramic tools (fork and knife will do)
  • slip (“clay glue”
  • glaze for ceramics

Instructions:

  1. Take a «tennis-ball» sized piece of clay. Use a teaspoon to take out a little piece of clay. Put your thumb in the middle to make an indentation. Keeping your thumb on the inside and using your fingers like a claw; start squeezing the clay in an upward with circular motions.
  2. Modell the clay, the way you want the troll’s head to be like. The clay should be about 0,6 mm thick.
  3. Three useful methods when adding ‘props’ to the troll’s head:
  4. Coil: Roll out long thin coils or “snakes” of clay, some of the students used this technique to add eyebrows, long noses, and/or trees on top of the trolls head.
  5. Slab: use your rolling pin, create a fat slap of clay that is about 0,6 mm thick. Shape the slab as a beard if you like.
    Techniques to join the clay pieces, to avoid them to fall off during the burning process: keep the clay moist, the wetter the clay parts are, the easier it is to blend and join the parts.
  6. Scoring: use a ceramics tool or knife to create grooves on the parts where the bits are joining.
  7. Slipping: “clay-glue”. Slip is a liquid mixture of water and clay that can be used where the bits are joining.
    When the troll heads are done, the clay must airdry for 3-5 days, depending on what type of clay which has been used. If the troll heads are not done, they have to keep moist in a plastic bag until next time.
  8. Burn the troll heads in the kiln.
  9. Add the glaze after the ceramic has cooled down.
  10. Put the troll heads on stilts, as the glaze might glue the ceramics to the oven. Burn the troll heads at a ‘glaze program’ in the kiln.

 

 

 

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