Visual Arts: Clay Face Jug

Grade level: 5‐12
Duration: Nine 45‐minute class periods
Media Type: red or white clay
Subject Integration: Science, History
National Standards for Visual Arts: (see below)
Students will create their own clay face jug after learning about the history and
usage of face jugs, and other clay building techniques.

Students will demonstrate an understanding of drawing an object 2‐dimensionally, and then creating that object 3‐dimensionally from clay. Students will also demonstrate understanding of the history of face jugs. In addition, students will demonstrate proper tool usage, building techniques, and glaze application.
(website for help with writing rubrics)


4 - Standards are exceeded
3 - Standards are met
2 - Standards may be met at a very low quality or with some exceptions
1 - Standards are not met or work is not attempted or very poorly done


  • greenware
  • leather hard
  • bone dry bisque
  • earthenware
  • firing‐‐‐temperatures
  • glazing
  • clay tools
  • pottery
  • vessels
  • kiln
  • wedging

Materials and Procedure:

  • scratch paper 9” x 12”
  • pencil, eraser
  • white or red earthenware clay clay tools
  • shallow water containers, water brushes
  • glazes (food safe, if possible)
  • clay boards
  • paper towels
  • plastic bags

Day 1:
1. Give brief introduction to face jugs and their origin. Show PBS video: Face Jug: History Detectives (14:48)
2. Discussion: “What did you see in this video?” “What did you learn?” “Have you ever seen a face jug before? If so, where?”
3. Students fold blank scratch paper and divide into four quadrants. Students use pencils to create four sketches of possible face jug ideas to be built with clay. Discuss drawing in 2‐D and building something 3‐D.
4. Students / teacher decide which sketch would work bests to use as guide for building face jug. Discuss how important it is that artists plan their work.
5. Play Playlist video about local clay artists: Lee and Dan Ross (4:15) and Robin Murphy (3:53)
6. After showing PlayList videos, discuss. “What did you see in these two videos?” “What spoke to you?” “What can you tell me about 3‐D artwork?” “What is a sculpture?”

Day 2:
Review Day 1. Teacher demonstrates building a clay face jug. Thick, round sphere is made for base of jug, sides are rolled out and created for walls of jug, facial features are created, such as, eyes, nose, mouth, eyebrows, ears, hair, etc. Discuss importance of adding slip (watered down clay, like a slurry) and scoring clay additions to the jug so that they do not fall off in the firing process. Correct tool usage is discussed. “Use the right tool for the right job”. Art terms are discussed: greenware, earthenware, bisque, scoring, slip, etc. Students will refer to drawing plans from Day 1 to build face jug. Discussion: clay dust and importance of being safe with clay and keeping dust to a minimum. Students begin building process. At end of class time, students must wrap beginning of face jug in plastic bag to keep from drying out for next class time. Face jugs are stored in safe place.

Day 3:
Face jug building continues.

Day 4:
Face jug building continues.

Day 5:
Face jug building continues.

Day 6:
Face jug building continues.

Day 7:
Students finish building face jugs. Finishing touches are discussed. Teacher ensures that students put their names on the bottom. Textural details are added, such as, lines on eyebrows, pupils in eyes, lines on hair, etc.

Day 8:
After face jugs have had adequate time to dry (one week, for sure!), they are fired in kiln for proper duration. Teacher may discuss kiln, firing process, temperatures, etc.

When firing process is complete, students receive face jugs and glazing techniques are discussed. If budget allows, Duncan glazes are applied to bisqued face jugs. Discussion: applying a glaze is applying a glass coating. It allows the face jug to be safe to eat or drink out of, given that the glazes are food safe.

If purchasing glazes is not in the budget, face jugs may be painted with watercolor paint, but they will not be food safe. Either choice is worthy.

Day 9:
Finish applying glazes / paint. If glaze is applied, face jugs will need to be fired for a second time in kiln.

Discussion Questions:
What did you learn about building with clay that you did not know before? What did you learn about MN artists, Lee and Dan Ross and Robin Murphy? What did you learn about the origin of face jugs? What part of the clay process is your favorite? What part did you find easy to do? Which part did you find difficult? What did you learn about glazing that you didn’t know before? What do you know about kilns that you didn’t know before?



  • Catawba Clay: Contemporary Southern Face Jug Makers by Barry Gurley Huffman
  • From Mud to Jug: The Folk Potters and Pottery of Northeast Georgia [Paperback] by John A. Burrison
  • Decorated Earthenware (The Complete Potter) by Mike Levy

Follow‐up activities:
Show students how these face jugs can be used to drink out of. Celebrate their creativity and serve a fun beverage in each mug! (Must be glazed in food safe glazes)

National Standards for Visual Arts:

Content Standard #1: Understanding and applying media, techniques, and processes
Achievement Standard:
Students know the differences between materials, techniques, and processes. Students describe how different materials, techniques, and processes cause different responses. Students use different media, techniques, and processes to communicate ideas, experiences, and stories. Students use art materials and tools in a safe and responsible manner.

Content Standard #2: Using knowledge of structures and functions
Achievement Standard:
Students know the differences among visual characteristics and purposes of art in order to convey ideas. Students describe how different expressive features and organizational principles cause different responses. Students use visual structures and functions of art to communicate ideas.

Content Standard #3: Choosing and evaluating a range of subject matter, symbols, and ideas
Achievement Standard:
Students explore and understand prospective content for works of art. Students select and use subject matter, symbols, and ideas to communicate meaning.

Content Standard #4: Understanding the visual arts in relation to history and cultures
Achievement Standard:
Students know that the visual arts have both a history and specific relationships to various cultures. Students identify specific works of art as belonging to particular cultures, times, and places. Students demonstrate how history, culture, and the visual arts can influence each other in making and studying works of art.

Content Standard #5: Reflecting upon and assessing the characteristics and merits of their work and the work of others
Achievement Standard:
Students understand there are various purposes for creating works of visual art.
Students describe how people's experiences influence the development of specific artworks. Students understand there are different responses to specific artworks.

Content Standard #6: Making connections between visual arts and other disciplines
Achievement Standard:
Students understand and use similarities and differences between characteristics of the visual arts and other arts disciplines. Students identify connections between the visual arts and other disciplines in the curriculum.

Funding for this program is provided by the Minnesota Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund. Click here for more information or visit the Minnesota Legacy website.

Clean Water, Land & Legacy Amendment