Multicultural Potters Wheel

For more information on fundraising click here: <Potters Wheel fund raising>

Video of Potter’s Wheel program <click here>

The demonstration programs address any culture or curriculum, in a class or assembly program.

This can be an interactive event, with group collaborative possibilities. It is not an event where each student makes an individual piece of work.

What I Do

As I discuss various cultures, I teach students about the formal design and creative process and address how each culture has their own stories that are seem through specific design characteristics. Many stories and the history of a culture are told through clay pots. I bring samples of  finished work, posters, visuals, and create large vessels on the potter’s wheel making it easy for everyone to see.

During the 45 – 70 minute wheel demonstration program I use the potter’s wheel as a tool to generate large scale pottery forms. This live demonstration will address how this manifests in the various cultures, i.e. Native American, Greek, Japanese, Latin American, African…. Students engage in a dialogue about the creative process as we design this piece. They witness how a lump of clay transforms into a finished work of art.   Additional attention is placed on discussing the nature of the creative process and how its significance in this design process relates to all disciplines in life aside from art.

Depending on the size of the class the participants can actually come up to the wheel and get a sense of what it is like to feel the clay spinning through their hands as we create a design a group vessel.

What  students do?

During each class students will collaborate and inscribe using historical techniques similar to the Greek Potters to create, decorate, and design one vessel using culturally specific patterns, symbols, and imagery. It may also reflect a schools theme or tie in to the grades curriculum.

The Result

The result is a 14” – 18” glazed fired piece from each group’s collaborations. Each piece is exemplary of the patterns and textures that were explored through the various wheel demonstration workshops. Pieces are displayed for an auction /raffle with a photo and video of the students at work… Students take pride in seeing their work create value to support the school or other relevant causes.

Additional Option: After demonstrating the wheel process and design and cultural diversity, students can assist in creating a signature piece on the potter’s wheel. Signing and personalizing the vessel using culturally specific designs allows them to have the experience of inscribing in clay using ‘scraffito’ techniques that go back thousands of years. Patterns and symbols are brought to light as their similarities and meanings are discussed and demonstrated. Prior to this I already demonstrated the process of working in clay and discussing its cultural diversity.

Fundraiser – The student’s participation in this collaborative effort results in a customized and personalized class’s pot with students’ signatures, patterns and school themes for auction.   Each class’s finished, glazed and fired piece becomes a source of the fundraising activity. (See multicultural fund raiser)

The Wheel program is a great catalyst to connect to the visual and design language of many cultures at one time, as well as, an inspiration for their 3d work to follow during the rest of the year.

The program is photo documented as they experience the clay and contribute to creating a group piece. Any finished signed pieces/photos can be showcased in your library or hallway showcase as an example for students to enjoy the connection to their creative work and as witness to the fruition of the ceramic process along with the hundreds of photo documentation during the program.

The wheel program is  inspiring and educational. I would like the arts teacher to let the students know that all question regarding my life as an artist are welcome during the demonstration. I will supply all the clay and materials necessary for each demonstration.

Some cultures and themes that can be addressed during the program and in the curriculum:]

  • School themes -tolerance, bullying, community
  • Commemoration- honor or celebrate the life of a teacher friend, students or public figure.
  • Native American pottery – stories through patterns, symbols and imagery
  • Greek pottery- symbols, drawing, and mythology
  • Egyptian Vessels – canopic jars
  • Raised relief designs – on pottery and tiles
  • Cross cultural ceramics – African, Latin American, and Chinese pottery
  • Japanese ceramics: form and function of the Japanese aesthetics.

ASSEMBLY: Multicultural Potter’s Wheel Program

The Potter’s wheel demonstration assembly program will allow for more of your students to experience day in clay at one time. This will be more cost effective than one class at a time.

Assembly programs require a longer period of time per session. (Minimum one hour)

The assembly format is usually a minimum of 50 students per session (double class) which can possibly take place in the art room after all the tables are moved aside.

Three classes and more require a space that will allow for greater visibility. It requires that the students view the program from a level or slightly higher viewing area. i.e. gym bleachers or a multipurpose room.

I tend to work much larger as the detailed work will not be appreciated on that scale as it loses the intimacy of a smaller class size. I sometimes use a wireless audio head set and if you have the technology it can be video taped and viewed on a large screen for everyone to view.

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