Art Lesson Plan: High School Story Pots - Ceramics

Story Pots

Submitted by: Linda Erling-Baker, Archbishop Walsh High School
Unit: Ceramics
Project: Story pots - Children's Literature
Grade Level: Middle School - High School
Inspiration: Michal Austin- (Archive)

Variation from Mark Alexander: Write a personal story - make a sculptural ceramic vessel to depict the story: Narrative Ceramic Vessel



These were done with a group non-art major high school students. After the students were familiar with various methods of creating a pot (slab, coil, pressed coil, draped slab), Linda brought in about 20 children's books from the library. Next she had them do thumbnail sketches of 3 ideas and choose the best one for the pot. They had to illustrate the story in the form of a pot.


Objectives: Student will

  1. Transform a 2 -D idea into 3-D form

  2. Create a narrative peace inspired by literature

  3. Develop problem solving skills in working with clay

  4. Develop hand building skills - exhibit craftsman dip in handling clay and glazing

  5. Learn how artists get ideas - study contemporary ceramics and ancient ceramics

story ceramic pots      story ceramic pots       story ceramic pots
Where the Wild Things Are        Rainbow Fish Cat in the Hat


story ceramic pots story ceramic pots story ceramic pots

Are You My Mother?


I'm a Little Tea Pot (rhyme)- Chocolate cookies to emphasis how small the tea pot is


Native American Story Teller, Mayan Ceramics, Peruvian ceramics, Native American Effigy. See IAD's page on Storytelling called, "Passing on the Traditions."



Courtly Art of the Ancient Maya. - This groundbreaking book gathers together the latest research into Maya civilization and hundreds of illustrations to illuminate their achievements. Ceramic censers, stucco heads, jade masks, Terra-cotta figurines, incised wood boxes, great carved limestone lintels are represented.

Ceramics of Ancient Peru. - Dr. Donnan takes you on a chronological journey from the Ancient Peruvian ceramic techniques (1800 B.C.) through the Florescent Period (period of ceramics in the Moche Kingdom 100 B.C.-700 AD) to end with the Inca and Colonial period (1430 - 1660 AD).



Ceramics hand-outs - Children's books
Newsprint. -- plastic bags
Moist Clay. --- Rolling Pins., guide sticks
Canvas Rolls. -- Slip. dishes
Clay Modeling Tools.
Assorted texture "gadgets"
Gloss Glazes., Underglazes. (or paints)



  1. Present a variety of contemporary sculptural ceramic works - show example of story pots/effigy vessels from ancient civilizations - especially Pre-Columbian ceramics.

  2. Review hand buildings techniques - provide handouts (or textbook) - provide books of contemporary ceramics. Provide Children's books for stories (allow student to bring in their own as well).


  1. Review hand building techniques - read hand outs - watch demos or film strip. Research contemporary sculptural ceramics.

  2. Look through books provided - or bring in one of your own - a favorite book from childhood days. Books from home must be at school for planning. Nursery rhymes may be used - with permission.

  3. Planning sketches of your ideas for the vessel are also due before beginning the sculpture. These sketches should include front view, top view, and back view of the vessel/sculpture to describe your 3D idea on 2D paper. These sketches should help you work out narrative aspects of the story. It is OK if your vessel/sculpture turns out differently than the sketches, but you must start with a plan. Include forming methods on your plan.

  4. Begin the sculpture by creating a vessel (container) using one of the three classic hand-building techniques: coil, slab (or draped slab), or pinch style construction. Don’t forget wedging all clay first! Then use the score and slip technique to appliqué attachments. Fine-tune the vessel/sculpture using the subtractive technique of carving and additive technique of sprigging. Texture surface to enhance the piece. Allow to dry slowly -- then bisque fire

  5. Underglaze and Clear Glaze. over or use glazes. Apply two coats of glaze to insure good coverage. Do not glaze the bottom. Glaze fire

  6. Critique work.

(Part of these procedures were taken from Mark Alexander's Lesson Plan for Story Pots)


Evaluation (adapted from Mark Alexander):

1. Effort 10 9 8 7 6 5 other___
(Did you follow instructions? Were all steps of the project turned in on time? Did you remain on task in every class? Did you treat materials and tools respectfully? Did you begin clean-up when instructed? Did you remain orderly and efficient during clean-up?)


2.      Technique/craftsmanship          10       9        8        7       6        5   other___
(Did you create a well constructed slab, pinch, or coil vessel? Did you use even thickness clay throughout sculpture? Are all joints and seams strong? Are all textures intentional and appropriate for your story? Did you apply glazes thick enough to make good color and seal all cracks and crevices? Did you keep all glaze off the bottom?)


3.      Story - Creativity - Originality   10       9        8        7       6        5   other___
(Does the vessel tell the story? Is the book identifiable? Is the vessel interesting from all angles?)


4. Aesthetics 10 9 8 7 6 5 other___
(Do the glazes/underglazes selections work with the piece? Are colors pleasing?)


5. Elements & Principles 10 9 8 7 6 5 other___
(Does sculpture/vessel have interesting shapes and forms and pleasing rhythm, movement and balance when viewed from all sides? Does sculpture design move the viewer’s eye to the emphasized story illustration? Is sculpture pleasing to hold and view?)



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