Art Lesson Plan: Traditional Coil Vessel - Greek Pottery

Traditional Greek Coil Vessel

Submitted by: Maria Lengauer - The High School for Creative and Performing Arts in Philadelphia, PA
UNIT: Ceramics Traditional Form - Ancient Greece - Sgraffito decorating technique
Lesson: Using coil method and Sgraffito with black slip
Grade Level: high school (adaptable to middle school) Maria does this with 9th grade
Alternate Lesson below



  • Coil method (this is third coil pot project in a row) (Basic coil plan)

  • Practice pulling handles for 2-3 days.

  • Coil of the classical Greek symmetrical shapes at least 10’ high

  • Sketch out an image that reflects a significant event or happening in your life

  • Cover pot with black slip

  • Carve image using Sgraffito technique


Create a handout with the traditional Greek Vessel forms.


Click images for larger views See other side


clay coil vessel clay coil vessel clay coil vessel clay coil vessel


clay coil vessel
Greek amphora


  • Introduce students to history of Greek Pottery-Power Point

  • Discuss how art documents/ records history

  • Function of pots in culture- then and now

  • Invention of pottery wheels

  • Technology and art

  • Look at Black on Red/ Red on Black pots

  • Discuss meaning of imagery on pots


  • Discuss - How changing times, economy, overlap of cultures effect design

  • The "marriage" of form, function and design

  • Classical Greek shape identification activity (Amphora etc.)


  • Analyze dominant elements and principles in Greek Pottery design through different periods

  • Group activity where students guess function based on form



clay coil vessel      clay coil vessel     clay coil vessel
Click images for larger views



Freshman assignment

Sculpture - Greek pottery unit

· Think about an "event" or "happening" in your life that you wish to illustrate on your Greek influenced pot.

· Make at lease 2-3 thumbnail sketches. Due on__________________

· Think about which Greek pot shapes could accommodate your design the best

· Choose 3-4 of the many styles of Greek pots (from the handout) and make 3-4 thumbnail sketches. Due on_________________________

· After discussing your ideas for your pot with teacher then make a sketch of your image on the pot you’ll build in clay

· The final sketch of the pot should fit on an 8-x11 piece of paper. Make sure the lines are clean, straight, and the pot is symmetrical.

Sketches due on________________________

· On the bottom right corner of your sketch write the Greek shape name of the pot

· Pot must be at least 10inches high with functional handles

· Begin to plan for construction!



Greek Pot REFLECTION PAPER Name_______________ Date_____

Please answer the following questions by "reflecting" back to the process. Be descriptive and respond in full sentences. Please write neatly!

1. What are the qualities you like about your pot? Why?

2. What are the qualities that you don’t like about your pot

3. Compare your 2 drawings, how is your pot different from the original drawing plan? Describe.

4. Name all the techniques you used to create your pot (don’t forget handles!)

5. What were some of the obstacles you encountered during the construction of your pot? How did you resolve them?

6. Describe your experience using the Sgraffito technique, what where the challenges, what did you do or not do to master the technique? Describe

7. Look at the Greek pot shape handout. Which shape does your pot most resemble? Or is it a combination of one or more shapes? Which characteristics does your pot have and from what Greek shape?

Give yourself a numerical grade in the following 4 categories; 99-0

1. Met criteria of the project_____

  • 10 inches high (25.4 cm)

  • Pot is Greek pot shape inspired

  • Used Sgraffito technique

2. Creativity ________Why?

3. Level of Effort/ Perseverance ____Why?

4. Craftsmanship ____Why?



Greek Pot Group Critique Group members ___________________________________ Period __________



1. As a group decide which pot meets the criteria of the specific category.

2. For each category write the number of the pot on the short line provided.

3. Describe in full sentences your reasons for choosing the pot you selected. Be descriptive
in your reasons use specific art vocabulary.

  • Best Craftsmanship

  • Most symmetrical shape

  • Symmetrical handles (negative space)

  • Smoothest surface

  • Most resembles Greek Pot Shape

  • Best-constructed handle/s

  • Most functional

  • Most difficult to create

  • Has potential but needs


Submitted by: Judy Decker
UNIT: Traditional Coil Form - Decorating techniques
Lesson: Coil vessel with template
Grade Level: High School (adaptable to middle school)



Heavy cardboard (we used left over Mat board.), Scissors., Masking Tape., Banding Wheels., choice of clay (we used Stoneware Clay.), metal Scraper., Clay Modeling Tools., Sponges., Glazes., Underglazes., Slip., Ceramic Tool Set., Brushes..



History of Ancient Pottery, Greek, Etrusean, and Roman.


clay coil vessel
Click image
for full size


  1. Students make a traditional form - coil method - using template to control shape (Diagram shown - template is white side)

  2. Students study traditional from in clay - looking at vessels throughout history.

  3. Students explore decorating techniques - apply one to finished vessel.


  1. Present a selection of traditional vessels to student (via slide or PowerPoint)

  2. Demonstrate wide coil technique using template

  3. Demonstrate various decorating techniques


  1. Make several sketches for possible shapes. Select best one and make a full size paper pattern (Fold 12" x 18" (30.5 x 46 cm) paper - draw contour - cut out)

  2. Make cardboard template from paper pattern. Tape a cardboard tab at bottom of template that will stop at edge of banding wheel. Wrap template in masking tape to make it water resistant.

clay coil vesselTo shape vessel:

  1. Cut slab circle for base (about ½" (1 cm) thick) - center on banding wheel.

  2. Shape vessel with wide slabs. Roll out slab of clay about ½" (1 cm) thick - cut into 1 inch strips. taper ends to overlap. Score and slip. This method was quicker than rolling out coils.

  3. Control shape using cardboard template. Scarp with metal scrapers to smooth surface. Smooth with sponges.

  4. Plan decoration to enhance form (students chose from Sgraffito, majolica, underglazes/glaze - making samples on test tiles)

  5. Apply slip to leather hard vessel for Sgraffito - carve decoration

  6. Fire and glaze. Majolica was done with colors on white opaque glaze.

Note: the example to the left shows shrinkage of vessel in leather hard stage. This photograph came from a high school art site.


Artist Diane De Baun sent me two examples of pottery she did that was heavily influenced by original Greek pottery:

greek pottery 1 Greek pottery 2


SAMPLE RUBRIC (Adapted from Marianne Galyk)


Assessment Rubric

Student Name:

Class Period:

Assignment: Greek Pottery - Coil Vessel

Date Completed:

Circle the number in pencil that best shows how well you feel that you completed that criterion for the assignment.




Needs Improvement

Rate Yourself

Teacher’s Rating

Criteria 1 – Planning - sketches - designs


9 – 8


6 or less 6

Criteria 2 – Coil method - traditional form - symmetrical body - with handle/handles


9 – 8


6 or less

Criteria 3 – Sgraffito decoration - design and technique


9 – 8


6 or less

Criteria 4 – Effort: took time to develop idea & complete project? (Didn’t rush.) Good use of class time?


9 – 8


6 or less

Criteria 5 – Craftsmanship – Neat, clean & complete? Skillful use of the art tools & media?


9 – 8


6 or less

Total: 50

X 2 = 100 possible


Your Total

Teacher Total


Student Comments:


Teacher Comments:




1. Understanding and applying media, techniques, and processes

2. Using knowledge of structures and functions

3. Choosing and evaluating a range of subject matter, symbols, and ideas

4. Understanding the visual arts in relation to history and cultures

5. Reflecting upon and assessing the characteristics and merits of their work and the work of others

6. Making connections between visual arts and other disciplines


Students apply media, techniques, and processes with sufficient skill, confidence, and sensitivity that their intentions are carried out in their artworks

Students demonstrate the ability to form and defend judgments about the characteristics and structures to accomplish commercial, personal, communal, or other purposes of art

Students reflect on how artworks differ visually, spatially, temporally, and functionally, and describe how these are related to history and culture

Students differentiate among a variety of historical and cultural contexts in terms of characteristics and purposes of works of art

Students identify intentions of those creating artworks, explore the implications of various purposes, and justify their analyses of purposes in particular works

Students compare the materials, technologies, media, and processes of the visual arts with those of other arts disciplines as they are used in creation and types of analysis

Students conceive and create works of visual art that demonstrate an understanding of how the communication of their ideas relates to the media, techniques, and processes they use

Students evaluate the effectiveness of artworks in terms of organizational structures and functions

Students apply subjects, symbols, and ideas in their artworks and use the skills gained to solve problems in daily life

Students describe the function and explore the meaning of specific art objects within varied cultures, times, and places

Students describe meanings of artworks by analyzing how specific works are created and how they relate to historical and cultural contexts

Students compare characteristics of visual arts within a particular historical period or style with ideas, issues, or themes in the humanities or sciences

Students create artworks that use organizational principles and functions to solve specific visual arts problems

Students analyze relationships of works of art to one another in terms of history, aesthetics, and culture, justifying conclusions made in the analysis and using such conclusions to inform their own art making

Students reflect analytically on various interpretations as a means for understanding and evaluating works of visual art



Add to or Comment on this Page:

More To Explore