Saturday, April 25, 2015

Let's hear it for the Greeks!

 Although red clay is not my favorite form of clay to work with, I had to keep this project as authentic as possible, so red clay it was. The art studio classroom was covered with fine red dust and my sinks were a mess for several weeks, but the results were worth it!

The sixth graders were ready to begin their history unit on Ancient Greece, so I met with their classroom teacher to make sure my project ideas would fit in with hers. In the end, we decided that the pottery was a perfect fit, as was the iPad project based on her "Greek Day" event that I will post about soon.

 The students already knew how to make coil pots, so we used that technique to create these lovely urns, pitchers, and bowls. I found some great resources posted by other art and history teachers, which we used to see the various designs and styles used by the Greeks at different times in their history.

One of the most useful resources is a PowerPoint created by Kevin J. Benoy. Great photos and lots of information are presented in a format perfect for middle school students. Another excellent site for all things Greek is a website created by Mr. Donn, called Ancient Greece for Kids. Both the history teacher and I used this site extensively during this unit. There are also numerous resources online for images of the various patterns commonly found on Greek pottery, which the students used to create a preliminary sketch for their own project.

We used AMACO Velvet Underglaze in white and black for the designs. I bisque fired the clay first to avoid any issues with breakage trying to apply glaze on greenware. Before the final firing, the students had the option of leaving the piece this way, or adding a layer of clear gloss glaze to add shine to the piece. The results were stunning either way!

This is one of my favorite pieces, simply because of all the details this student took the time to include. She worked an extra art class to complete it, but it was well-worth the time and effort!

Now that the red dust has settled, and we're on to other things, I can honestly say that I agree with the students who said this was "the best clay project yet". Chances are good that I will repeat this one again next year!

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