Monday, May 28, 2012

Father's Day Clay Pots

Grade 6 sculpted their Father's Day pots.  Normally I wait until I have a completed sample to show you but with Father's Day approaching I thought I'd show you the process and add some pictures of the final results in a few weeks.  That way if you want to try this with your class you still have time.


- clay
- access to a kiln or use air dry clay
- nails for cutting with
- wooden skewers
- little cups of water
- piece of canvas like fabric to work on
- rolling pin
- newspaper
- glaze
- potting soil
- cat grass seeds, alfalfa seeds, etc. for hair


So the pot is made by slab construction.  You can do a pinch pot but I wanted the Grade 6's to have a nice smooth surface to mold their face on.

Roll out a clay slab about 1/2 inch thick.

Cut a long rectangle with a nail.

Roll into a cylinder overlapping the ends a bit.

With your finger and a little bit of water smooth the seam and ensure a tight seal.
Cut a bottom out of remaining rolled clay.  Trace around the outside of your cylinder.
Make a hole in the circle (bottom) for drainage in the finished pot.
To "glue" the cylinder to the bottom you want to scratch or score both pieces of clay where they will be attaching.  Add a little bit of water with your finger.
Smooth the seam with your finger and a little more water if needed.  Tap the pot on your work table lightly to ensure the bottom will be level.
Now we can start sculpting the face.  We want this to look like our Dad so the students brought in photos or had them on their cellphones to use as reference.   Start by molding the nose, attach a triangular shape to the pot and then round the tip and smooth the bridge of the nose.

Add the eyebrows.  Roll out a thin snake.
Cut to desired length and attach smoothing into bridge of the nose.  Make sure you scratch and moisten when "gluing" 2 pieces of clay together.
For the eyes you can form an outline using those thin snakes.
Apply to the face.
Cut little ovals out of some rolled clay for the eyeballs an attach inside the outline.

Using a skewer you can mark in the pupils.
Make a mouth in the same fashion with thin rolled snakes and apply to the face.
You can add scratches to the eyebrows as well as extra clay to form the cheekbones and chin.  Just make sure to tap the pot after making the chin to ensure that flat bottom.
Add ears.  You don't want them to stick out too far or else they will just break off.
Finally add a 1/2 piece of newspaper crumpled up and place in pot to help it hold it's shape while drying.  Remove the newspaper before firing.

Place pots in a warm place with lots of air circulation to dry out.  I cover mine loosely with garbage bags for about 2 days and then I remove the bags and let the pots finish drying.  This slows down the drying process (we are so dry here in Calgary) and stops cracking.
 That's it for now.  I'll fire these pots in about 10 days or so when they are no longer cool to the touch.  Stay tuned for part 2.



  1. Hi Gail

    These are absolutely charming! What dad wouldn't love to get one of these! Your photos are great - easy to follow. I wish I had more time this year....maybe next year. Thanks for posting.

    P.S. I just pinned it!

    Rina at

  2. Very beautiful!!Bravo!!kisses.

  3. I wish I had access to a kiln. Maybe I will try it with air or oven bake type clay. These are adorable and I love how thorough your instructions are. I know how time consuming it can be to photograph and write up each step. Thank you for sharing with us.

  4. Hi Gail,
    Just wanted to tell you how adorable these are. Do you think the results would be the same if using air dry clay? We don't have a kiln. Also I have always admired your watercolor picture at the top of your site. It is so calming. Did you paint this? It is so beautiful.

    art someone happy

  5. Truly great. Thanks for your tutorial