Multicultural Hands On


There are some simple and profound ways to have students connect to various cultural diversity in a 45- 60 minute session. The Day in Clay program is effective way to include clay medium in your arts curriculum that ties in all arts-standards.

The hands on program is a great follow up to the Multicultural Potter’s Wheel program for schools that want to bridge the gap between knowledge from the wheel program to the actual experience of working directly with clay to create their own unique ceramic piece. However it is not a prerequisite that you try the wheel program first.

All students make a finished piece during this 60 minute program under my instructions. It opens up the diversity of the themes that can be created to meet the needs of the individual schools curriculum. For example, The Native American vessel making is a great introduction and will connect students to a culture rich in symbols, imagery and patterns. They learn 5 -6 different techniques. This whole day will also give the students a starting point for future work with the materials.

Hands-on programs explore the uniqueness of a particular culture through making a variety of traditional three dimensional forms in ceramics. I.e. Native American /Greek vessels, mask making, theme based architectural tile murals installations.

The term ceramics means fired Clay in Greek it comes from the word Keramos. Fired clay adds another dimension to learning about working with clay. It completes the whole cycle of what a pot or clay sculpture must go through to be completed. Nothing can create the look of a fired glazed piece of pottery/sculpture. The students can experience the whole process/cycle from the source of where clay originates to the finished product.

Hands-on approach in the class room

As a college teacher I bring that same sensibility in to the classroom and challenges students to rise to the occasion. The goal is to create a finished a piece within the 60 minute period that can be taken home at a later date. Students finish the project that they start before I leave. Art teachers are amazed at what is accomplished in that time which ordinarily takes many weeks to complete.

My intensive focused instruction, through multiple hand building demonstrations introduces the students to quite a few ceramic techniques. The students are readily handed clay and are utilizing these techniques under my supervision.

All the students will use clay to make work in the manner and techniques of a specific culture. I will demonstrate many techniques for making pottery by hand which will also include coil techniques, multiple pinch pot method, trivets/ relief 3D tiles (using natural objects and tools to design/decorate the piece), slab- made cups with handles, figurines/masks, ceramic jewelry, self-portraits, South American bird whistles and more.

Students learn how to integrate symbols and imagery into a vessel, pot, mask, tile or free form works.

The need for work tables, demo area, sinks, storage, and facility to finish the work are inherent in the program

Some hands on programs that can be addressed in the curriculum are:

  • Large vessels making – i.e. Greek pottery, Korean coil techniques and in sections
  • Egyptian canopic jars
  • Native American, African and Greek ceramic vessel making –mythology, stories through patterns, symbols and imagery
  • Japanese ceramics: form and function of the Japanese aesthetic.
  • Latin American ceramics – Relief designs on pottery
  • Mask making – The mask as a wonderful form of expression, in theater and other cultures. i.e. Japanese Kabuki, African, Native American, Greek, Mayan / Aztec
  • Tile making /designs/architectural mural installations
  • Applied arts

Goals of the hands on program:

  • Explore the limits of materials in a way that allows for a successful creation.
  • Transform a 2 image in to 3d imagery in clay relief.
  • Everyone make a piece that can be taken home.
  • Culturally specific patterns, symbols and imagery are explored.
  • Explore 3d sculptural techniques using new tools.
  • Fired or non-fired clay can work with all levels if you do not have a kiln
  • Drawing references to the culture that we are exploring. Learning how clay can function to tell a story or make reference to their lives.
  • Finishing works (fired or non-fired techniques) expose students to the full range of the ceramic process
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