Saturday, December 9, 2017

Ceramic Totem Poles (Part 2)

Totem poles are not idols nor objects to ward off evil spirits. They are stories told with symbols. They may honor a family, commemorate a life, or,  they are may be used to shame someone (say a CEO or ambassador) for wrong doing.  The poles are carved from tall cedar trees from the Oregon and Washington all the way through British Columbia to Alaska.

To read a totem pole, one must know the meaning behind each animal.  A wolf is a symbol of loyalty and intelligence, a frog represents wealth and good health. Salmon symbolize determination and perseverance. Killer whales are powerful and can offer food and help to tribe leaders. An owl is wise and may symbolize a deceased family member. A bear is strong and was believed to teach people how to fish and gather berries.

My high school students used slabs of clay to wrap around cardboard rolls and create their own totem poles. I encouraged a lot wiggle room for the shrinkage that comes from drying, so the tube could be removed. After a bisque firing, they each glazed their animals.  For the students who did every animal separately, we hot glued the pieces together afterwards, and it seemed to work pretty well. (Time will tell how long it will hold).  These ended up being a little over a foot in height, which was about twice as tall as the mini poles that the younger students made. We were so excited to pull them out of the kiln yesterday it was fun to see them standing side by side.

No comments:

Post a Comment