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Re:[teacherartexchange] Mayan Clay Rattles


From: Marvin Bartel (marvinpb_at_TeacherArtExchange)
Date: Fri Sep 05 2008 - 10:02:31 PDT

 Toshika Takaezu was a visiting artist at Goshen in 1996. She made some of her closed forms and placed rattles in them. They were visual forms that happened to also make a sound. I have had many students who made rattles. I had one student who did only rattles for a year (college level). He gave one to each of his friends. I treasure the one he gave me. He made a number of discoveries and ended up making a short video about clay rattles.

I have seen very creative ideas when students started without looking at other artwork and without looking at art history. Rattles are so easy that no model is needed. No demo is needed. They start by making lists about themselves and a series of experiments with content that is totally based on the student's own meaningful personal symbols that are unique and important.

I primarily use questions to get them thinking and experimenting. When students are free to decide, a few may revert to trite ideas. If my class has a problem with trite ideas, I ask them to show me their ideas before they start. In a recent case a student who had some good ideas wanted to make a heart shape. I had seen some very original ideas from her. I told her that it was her choice, but if it was me, I like think about how much work it is to make something. With all that effort, I like to make something that is not easily purchased. I would want to spend my time making something that was as original as possible. She made a very unique and special piece.

Virtually any clay making process works for rattles. The loose piece(s) of clay on the inside need(s) to be wrapped in paper so it does (they do) not stick to the inside of the piece.

After students invent and complete some rattles, we test them, and compare ways of getting ideas. This becomes a perfect time to look at clay rattles from other times and cultures and try to speculate on why they made them.


Marvin Bartel, Ed.D., Professor of Art Emeritus
Adjunct in Art Education
Goshen College, 1700 South Main, Goshen IN 46526
studio phone: 574-533-0171

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"We need to remember that we are created creative and can invent new scenarios as frequently as they are needed." -- Maya Angelou

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