Submitted by: Judy Decker - Student work from Tracy Albert, May Whitney Elementary
Student work from Linda Woods below. Unit: Sculpture - Ceramics - Folk Art Project: Native American Storyteller Figure Level: Elementary (adaptable to middle school and high school)
Objectives: Students will:
Hand build a larger figure of clay that is adorned with small children and/or animals. They will combine several hand building techniques
Learn about cultures that use clay figures to express the telling of stories from one generation to the next. Learn about Pueblo culture.
Demonstrate craftsmanship in forming and glazing. Select colors for aesthetics.
Show pictures of storytellers. (PowerPoint - slides)
Discuss characteristics of Native American design motifs. Discuss Pueblo culture.
Discuss the importance of telling cultural history from generation to generation.
Demonstrate processes - Instruct students on how to make a traditional storyteller - but encourage creativity.
Previous knowledge: Student have had prior experience with pinch
pot, pinch method and coiling.
Helen Cordero Storytellers: You will find a lot of links for Helen Cordero (1915-1994)
"The originator of the contemporary "Storyteller" figures was Helen Cordero of Cochiti Pueblo. Helen was a beautiful woman who cherished the role of storytellers in preserving the history of the Pueblo Indians. While her peers among Cochiti women were making traditional gray clay bowls, Helen was sculpting figures of seated storytellers with little children perched on legs, arms, shoulders, and back--all listening to the tales of the grandfather or grandmother."
Many Pueblo potters today produce Storytellers; but none match the
quality, feeling, and naturalness of Helen Cordero's; one can almost hear
the words coming out of the mouths of her Storytellers as the children
hang on and listen attentively. See the First
I found one of Helen's for $14,500.00: (show art has value- image no
longer on line)
Helen Cordero And The Storytellers Of The Cochiti Pueblo by Nancy Shroyer Howard- Native American artist Helen Cordero (1915–1994) is best known for her remarkable clay Storytellers- figures covered with tumbling children. Get to know her work, and that of other artists from the Cochiti Pueblo in New Mexico. Unique activities encourage kids to use their imagination, to explore the details of the sculptures and to think like an artist.
Storytellers and Other Figurative Pottery by Douglas Congdon-Martin- In 1964, Helen Cordero of Cochiti created a clay image of her grandfather, Santiago Quintana, with five children clinging to him. With this piece the storyteller was born.
Art Scholastic Magazine: Maria Martinez
DVD- Arts and Crafts of Mexico, Educational Video Network, Inc., Huntsville, Texas
Detailed Lesson Plan (pdf file - no longer on line)
For larger story tellers - Make a ball of newspaper about the size of a baseball/tennis ball. (may work smaller for younger children) For other animal shapes - make a hump of newspaper smaller than desired body form. Make two pinch pots for smaller storytellers.
Press 1/8" -1/4" slab clay around the paper to create the skirt or body of the adult figure - or drape slab over newspaper hump. For small story tellers: larger pinch pot may also be used for the body - and a smaller pinch pot for the head - make sure there is a hole where the two attach. Fuse the head onto the larger pinch pot - score and slip.
Model and add the head and appendages. Make head hollow - be sure there is a hole in body where head is attached. There can not be trapped air. Strengthen arms and legs where they attach. Make mouth open as if telling a story.
Model and add all animals, children, etc. Sculpting, rather than drawing details is encouraged.
Check all joints - smooth any rough areas and allow to dry.
Bisque fire when bone dry.
Paint any clothing and details as desired - underglazes are a good choice. (projects can be dipped in clear glaze by the teacher). Watercolors or acrylics may also be used. Spray or brush on gloss acrylic for storytellers that have been painted with watercolors or acrylic.
Evaluation -- Did Students:
1. Use appropriate clay construction techniques? Include small figures
to hear the story?
2. Smooth sculpture to give it a finished look?
3. Paint neatly? (or glaze neatly)
4. Make sure the spray coat fully covered the sculpture and was glossy as desired?
5. Sculpt details and not just draw them?
Submitted by: Linda Woods Grade Level: 3rd grade
Linda allowed her students to make traditional story tellers - or their own creative versions. shown are two approaches from third graders. One made a really gigantic dragon (about the size of a shoe box) storyteller with 2 babies out of clay using mostly slab, coil, pinch pots, and pinched forms on the head and scales. There is so much gesture, movement, and expression! She also painted it (all her own idea) in a way that it looks like an antique Chinese dragon. Linda's students used underglazes this time, which lent themselves perfectly to her design ideas (they don't blur or run... precise graphic design quality). The only thing Linda helped her with was figuring out how to make the tail curve around the body. She explained how to use a combination of slab, coil, and pinch pots joined together to make her hollow form and the curve of the body.