Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Celtic Knot Trivets

Celtic knots are wonderful symbols of Irish art and heritage. You can find them in tapestries, jewelry and illuminated manuscripts, like The Book of Kells.  I decided to introduce my students to Celtic knots during our clay unit and have them each create a variation of their own.

After a little research on the internet, most students were able to find a favorite knot to print and use for source material. They needed to change it in some way which required a little playing around. Clay coils are so easy to make that a few mistakes and restarts doesn't feel like a big deal. Some students did a complete design from their imagination, while others linked together some simple, tried-and-true designs.

We talked about form and function being a part of good design. These fired clay pieces are going to be used as trivets, protecting tables and counter tops from hot pots and pans. There is no reason for useful, every day things to be beautiful, and hopefully my students are developing the cultural awareness and skills they need to make their environments more atheistically pleasing.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Coil Pots

A thousand years before I moved to the south, there were Native Americans here making amazing pottery with the same Georgia clay, and the same coil methods that we use today. I taught my art students the styles and techniques used by the Mississipian and Creek nations, beginning with the shapes of their vessels.
I needed to make drawings with puffy paint for my blind students who couldn't see the slide show.

They each sketched their own variation of pot, using the correct terms for the parts: neck, lip, shoulders, foot, and handles. Some students tried to replicate what they felt in my drawings, using wiki sticks.

Then the students made coils "or snake like shapes from clay by rolling their hands on top of the clay and moving each hand and finger further apart to evenly stretch it.The bottom coil rolled up like a spiral and was smoothed out top and bottom. In the end, I didn't want the coils to show at all. 

The Ocmulgee Indian Mounds is a National Monument in our town. It has videos showing how the coils were smoothed and used to create walls. Then wooden carvings were pressed into the sides of the pots to create pattern. I required my students to use a repeated texture too.

There is a school wide media fair coming up, during which each teacher will show case how their students learned about the people and history of the state. We will showcase some of our pots in the bisque fired state so that they look more authentic. Once the show is over, we will glaze and fire the pots again. Maybe, they will be ready just in time for Christmas. Who wouldn't want an ancient style, modern twist, home made, coil pot!