Clay Illustration


Art and Literature Connection

Have You Seen Birds? by Barbara Reid is a fantastic book from which to pull an art lesson.  Full of lovely clay collage illustrations created by Joanne Oppenheim, children can dabble in an art medium (and style) often neglected – clay collage.   The illustrations in the book are detailed, yet easy to recreate (with a little patience.)


What You Need:

  • play clay (not play dough)
  • cardboard to serve as the base for your design
  • wax paper on which to roll the clay because it has a tendency to stain many surfaces

How To:

1.  Sketch your basic design on a piece of cardboard.

2. Make blocks of color by rolling the clay into little balls, then pressing them into one another (on the cardboard) so that the individual pieces overlap each other.

3. Continue adding new blocks of color in the same manner in the shapes of the various elements of your picture.

4.  Add a few colors on top of the first layer to add a 3-dimensional look.

5.  Play clay doesn’t ever dry, nor does the project display easily because it’s heavy.  I suggest propping the finished product up on a sturdy picture stand for a few days, then taking a photo for memory’s sake before removing the clay to reuse another day.


  1. This looks like so much fun! I don’t know why, but you’re right that clay is neglected. We always enjoy working with clay, but we don’t do it very often. Why not?! I’m making a note to purchase some (it is so heavy….maybe that’s why I don’t buy it more often?!). Thanks for inspiration. Great job on your project – looks super!

  2. Way to get your hands dirty. Love it!

  3. How did I miss this post when it first came out? What a great idea!

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