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.
- a kiln (to burn the clay)
- plastic bags
- hard mats
- rolling pin
- ceramic tools (fork and knife will do)
- slip (“clay glue”
- glaze for ceramics
- 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.
- Modell the clay, the way you want the troll’s head to be like. The clay should be about 0,6 mm thick.
- Three useful methods when adding ‘props’ to the troll’s head:
- 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.
- 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.
- Scoring: use a ceramics tool or knife to create grooves on the parts where the bits are joining.
- 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.
- Burn the troll heads in the kiln.
- Add the glaze after the ceramic has cooled down.
- 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.