When it comes to clay, my motto has always been “put a face on it.” Evidence of this philosophy can be seen in my own artwork and I’m not really sure where this fascination for anthropomorphism came from but it has always been something I have been interested in exploring through art. Every art teacher in the universe does a face jug project at one time or another and I was particularly excited to do this project with 5th graders this year.
We began by talking about functional vs. decorative pottery and traditional face jugs. Artists from the Blue Ridge Mountains made face jugs to keep the bad spirits away and to hide chemicals (among other things) inside of.
Students noticed that face jugs tend to be ugly and weird with exaggerated features. They sketched some designs using facial proportions:
To begin construction, students created two pinchpots that they attached to make a hollow egg. Then, using additive and subtractive methods as well as coil, pinch, and slab, features and details were added. A hole was made in the top and the face jugs went through the bisque kiln before students glazed them with a variety of colors. They turned out great — each one is as unique as the artist who made it!
I think this project was so successful because it really allowed for the students to make their own creative decisions. Even the students who struggle with process or product were able to embrace both and produce beautiful artwork. These monstrous creations were a big hit with all of the 5th graders and even some of the teachers, everyone who saw them commented on how strange/awesome/cute/weird they are which is quite a compliment indeed. 🙂