Note: To protect the privacy of our members, e-mail addresses have been removed from the archived messages. As a result, some links may be broken.

Find Lesson Plans on! GettyGames

Re: sgraffito tiles--help!


From: Marvin Bartel (marvinpb_at_TeacherArtExchange)
Date: Thu Mar 31 2005 - 13:37:43 PST

>I am trying to put together a lesson doing tiles in red clay, with
>sgraffito decoration using white clay slip. (This is for elementary)
>I did this years ago (when I was a student actually), and am not
>sure exactly how to do it. Does anybody have any helpful hints?
>Does the clay need to be leather hard? What tools are used for
>filling in with the slip? And is there an easy way to clean up the
>excess slip? Has anyone done this with a class as young as fourth
>grade? I started a sample, and mine isn't that great, so I am
>getting a little worried! Thanks for any advice. Holly

You may be thinking of mishima. It is a traditional Korean method of
filling a textured, carved, or incised surface with white slip and
then scraping off the surface so the white is on in the indentations
(background area). White slip is brushed on darker clay while it is
leatherhard. It can be scraped off with a thin metal rib. Do this
before it is totally dry to avoid dust. Sanding of dry clay would
not be healthy because of the dust created. Use plastic grocery bags
and a spray bottle if needed to keep pieces from getting totally dry
before scatching off the high parts of the design to expose the clay
beneath. The bisque can be wet sanded and rinsed. When ready, dry
it. Use clear glaze.

Students can learn the craft part by experimenting on pieces of clay
before they start on a final piece. I would use my own experiment to
learn how to give some guidance in setting up the student
experiments, but I would not show my piece to the class. No need to
demonstrate or show an example. Mishima is easy to do. I am sure it
can be learned by third graders or maybe younger.

The ART lesson
Students can get original ideas for decoration from memories, family
traditions, observations in their homes, their own sports, music,
beliefs, their favorite animals, favorite plants, own decorated
initials, combinations of the these, used as repeat patterns, and so
forth. It can be helpful to give them some advance notice that they
will be needing ideas about themselves. Student made lists and
sketches may be helpful in teaching this. I would restrict against
overused ideas. I might restrict each student to coming up with an
idea that is not being used by another student in the class. I think
there are no wrong ideas so long as they are original and they come
from the creators themselves.

An appropriate time to study the traditional Korean work would be
after the students had learned to come up with ideas on their own,
completed and fired at least one of their own pieces. This will
provide the frame of reference to help them understand and appreciate
the historic examples.
Google for mishima ceramics or pottery to see other examples.

This is a page on drying tile without warping and cracking.

Good luck and let me know how it goes.

Marvin Bartel, Ed.D., Professor of Art Emeritus
Goshen College, 1700 South Main, Goshen IN 46526
studio phone: 574-533-0171
"You can't never know how to do it before you never did it before."
... a kindergarten boy working with clay for the first time.