I gave an introduction to Pueblo Pottery and brainstormed with my students what
they saw in common between five different reproductions of pots that I had on
display. (the shapes all started out narrow at the bottom, flared out, then
tapered in, more or less - they were containers - the surfaces were divided up
into bands - there were balanced areas of light and dark - the surface designs
were made of symbols).
After compiling our list, I handed out drawing paper (60 lb.), pencils, erasers,
crayons, Native American symbol sheets, and gave them the choice of several
different contours. (I had xeroxed off contours of various vases). They put
their paper on top of the copied contour (so that they could see through) and
redrew the contour onto their paper. They then divided their pot up into between
three and six bands from top to bottom, their choice how wide to make their
bands. They then had to turn their paper over and carefully trace over all of
their lines, including bands. This is important so that they will know where
colors are later. On one side, they chose earthy colors of crayon to fill in
their bands. (Color Heavily). We talked about balancing lights and darks.
Please stress that their names be large, on the back, and not too close to the
edge (some black paint can get on them). I collect and paint them with tempera
mixed with liquid soap. They could have painted them too, but we only have 40
minutes a class, andthey only had time to finish coloring.
If they did had extra time, they used their xerox as a sketching surface: they
had to choose at least three Native American symbols to add to their pot. They
had to be in repetitive patterns going around their pot (from one end of a band to
the other) and each symbol had to reach from the top of a band to the bottom of
Next class they finished their sketches. They then urned their now black papers
to the back, and carefully traced over their lines. A silvery line shows on the
front through the back. I have them go over these lines with a scratch tool to
show them the contour of their pot as well as the bands. They may work on their
sketch a bit more, or draw directly on the back of their paper (stressing
repetition, going from the top of a band to the bottom) - also, I show the class
in my example how on some bands I scratched around the symbols and on other bands
I scratched out the symbol itself. This led to a short discussion about positive
and negative space.
This took four or five classes, but there was so much covered, the kids loved it,
and every piece was unique and beautiful. And while it was not clay, it was a
close approximation to how designs on pots would be incised through slip by the
It is one of the few lessons that I could see enjoying teaching year after year.
(I get bored and like to try new ways of presenting the curriculum).
Current Favorite Quote: Mr. Potato Head, Toy Story - "Look, I'm