Present a variety of ancient Greek and Roman relief carvings (via Internet, PowerPoint, prints, and/or books).
Compare with Renaissance Terra-Cotta.
Demonstrate/review additive and subtractive techniques.
After firing - present a variety of decorating techniques (ceramic stains, underglazes/glazes, acrylic, bronze/metallic patina).
Look at relief sculpture using Greek and Roman artifacts. Discuss the characteristics of high relief. Develop preliminary sketches on newsprint for your project. Must be original, but you may look at photos or other resources for ideas.
Build a large, 2/3" thick slab of clay—about 20" x 25" (51 x 63.5 cm) minimum. Choose a free-form or geometric shape that works best with your idea. Hand build on the cloth. For easy moving place the cloth onto Drawing Boards or heavy cardboard. Daily, test to see that the clay can be lifted from the cloth/board. (size of Kiln and amount of time for sculpting and drying may determine the size you have students make slabs)
Draw your design into the smooth clay surface.
Decide what needs to be cut away or built up. Using clay tools, carve away the areas that you want recessed. This will give an illusion of depth or distance. Do this over the entire composition so you visualize the 3-D effect. Begin to build up form, texture, space—what needs to be raised. Use the correct techniques so that air is not trapped in the clay!
Carefully, mold and sculpt your image until you are happy with the 3-D relief. Remember variety in your depth creates visual interest. If clay begins to dry, wet it with water using your fingers.
Add textures to surfaces—examples: fur, bark, cloth, etc.
Do not forget the edge—smooth or trim to give it a finished look.
Carve your name somewhere. Make sure it can be lifted from cloth/board. Allow to dry.
After firing, choose glazing or painting to complete your relief. Remember to use correct techniques for applying these media.
Always wrap your unfinished artwork in a large plastic bag. If clay is drying, lay wet paper towels on clay surface
Attic Document Reliefs: Art and Politics in Ancient Athens - This book is a unique, fully illustrated, and fascinating study of all the known carved reliefs decorating official inscriptions in classical and Hellenistic Athens. The author's illuminating work on the iconography of these reliefs shows how the gods, heroes, and other personifications were not simply decorative, but integral to the overall political message.
Lesson Idea - Postcards in Clay - from Debra Katcoff
Postcards in Clay:
Students brainstorm about their favorite places, then do sketches from several angles. It can be an indoors or an outdoor space, real or imaginary. Beginning with a slab of clay, students then create their postcards in relief. We talk about relief sculpture and about hollowing forms. Students carve grooves into the bottoms of their slabs to prevent warping. They paint them using underglazes or acrylics, whichever they prefer. I've had everything from farmyards to Atlanta, to bathrooms, to Oz. This is always a successful project!