Surrealism, Dali, and Long-Legged Clay Creations

Hey, friends!  As most of you know, I’ve spent the past five weeks moonlighting as the art teacher at Little Crafter’s school.  I decided to take the opportunity to introduce them to some of my favorite artists and give them a chance to practice the styles those artists helped to pioneer.  We started with Seurat and Pointillism, then moved on to Kandinsky and Abstract Art.  This week, we took a look at Salvador Dalí and the Surrealist movement.   After reading a short biography of Dalí himself, we looked at a few of his most famous works including The Persistence of Memory, Swans Reflecting Elephants, and the Space Elephant sculpture, I gave the kids a chance to try their hand at some Dalí- inspired sculptures of their own…

Clay Sculptures
{Thanks to Sculpey for providing the clay for all six classes!  The school, the kiddos, and I really appreciate it!}
Sculpey Model Air {air dry clay}
– toothpicks
Elmer’s glue
– google eyes
– wax or parchment paper

Before handing out the supplies, I showed the students photos of this sculpture and we talked about its elements of Surrealism.  In case you never studied it yourself, Surrealism is the combination of the ordinary and and element of surprise; something that wouldn’t occur in real life, only in a dream.  The kids were all quick to point out the long, thin legs Dalí gave his elephant and they giggled over what might happen if real elephants tried to walk around on legs like that.

 Space Elephant by Salvador Dalí Image (15 April 2008) © picqero

Their assignment was to take a small ball of clay and create their own animal…anything they liked, including mythical creatures like dragons or unicorns, and add Dalí style legs in the form of toothpicks.


I also gave them the option of adding google eyes to their sculptures, which almost all of them chose to do.


It was so fun for me just to walk around and watch their creativity at work!  They made long-legged cats, dogs, frogs, sheep, elephants, and more.


Some of them even decided to give legs to animals like dolphins and sharks, which we figured was even more surreal!  A few tips I gave the kids were to use broken toothpicks to help hold the heads on their animals and provide structural support, and to use glue to attach the eyes.

Clay Sculptures

Sculpey Model Air hardens in 24 hours, so they didn’t have to wait long for their sculptures to be complete.  I also told them to feel free to paint their animals at home once the clay was dry and hard.  Meanwhile, I couldn’t resist making an example…unicorns, for the win!

Clay Unicorn Sculpture

This is a simple project that requires very few supplies, makes no mess {can I get a woohoo?!}  and will entertain kids from Kindergarten through 8th grade.  I did the same exact project with all six classes, although our discussions of Dalí and his style were of course modified to their level of understanding, and all of them were equally excited and engaged in making their sculptures.  Are there some young artists you know who would enjoy this hands-on Dalí lesson?


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