Grade Level

9-10, 11-12


12-15 classes, 45 minutes


Clay, Slip, Carving tools, Metal Rib, Needle Tool, Clay knife, Scoring tool, sponges, bowl for slip, canvas, spray bottle, water



Lesson Objectives

Students will:
Be exposed to the history of African face pots,
Create a face pot that incorporates both text and natural inspiration,
Use correct facial proportions in an expressionistic face pot,
Create a pot which is at least 10” tall, and is taller than it is wide.

Introductory Activity

Introduction: Describe origins of African face pots by showing PBS video on the Edgefield South Carolina mid-19th century face pots. Present Pinterest page and show proportions of facial features and expressionistic character images. Show examples and discuss and objectives.

Lesson: Demonstrate vase-building process and pushing walls out to designate shape, design (sketch) facial features, demonstrate attaching and mounting of facial pieces, and reiterate considerations/parameters (at least 10 inches tall and taller than wide).

Discussion: Use handouts (attached) to facilitate proper execution of face proportions. Facilitate incorporation of text and natural elements into face pot. Inquiry based questions to students to hear them reiterate objectives and direction.

Lesson Process

Students will:
Be introduced to African Face pots.
View inspirations of other face mugs.
Create a modern face pot using their choice of slab, coil or thrown methods.
Use individual inspiration (text, nature and realistic facial expression – not a cartoon face).
Critique their own and their classmates’ face pots.


slab, coil, slip & score, wedge, green, bone dry, bisque, fired, colored slip, glaze, face pot


PBS video on history of African Face Pots
Show Pinterest page “In your face”
Burlon Craig on Folkways
(from approx. 7:16 to the end, only about ten minutes)
While the students work
Mitchell Grafton sculpting a Face Mug (Time Lapse)

Author & Website/Blog

Joy Danila

Supporting Images