I recently went to the North Mount Pleasant Arts Center Pottery Sale at Triwood community center. This visit got me thinking about making useful objects in art class. We focus on creating art that will go in the “display case.” The purpose of this art is primarily for looking at and contemplating.
What if we shifted the focus to creating objects that would be used and shift the focus from conceptual to technical. In creating these objects, students had to focus a lot on craftsmanship. A popular object to make was a mug. Well… in order for a mug to be used, it has to be waterproof – no cracks – well crafted. The importance of craftsmanship in this project was reinforced by the incentive (for lack of a better word) that the students would be using these objects, or giving them as gifts for another person to use.
To scaffold students from making pinch pots (shown below) to making a full blown mug, I had them use a paper template. This cut down on the anxiety that goes along with a focus on technical perfection.
Here are some photos of me demonstrating the use of a template and how to roll out a slab and join the pieces of the mug together.
Here is a picture of the finished product – well finished enough to be fired for the first time. From there, students will glaze and fire again.