Visual Arts: Clay Vessel

Lesson Plan: Clay Vessel
Grade level: 9-12
Duration: 6+ class periods
Media Type: clay
Subject Integration: Science
National Standards for Visual Arts: (see below)
Objectives: Students will create a clay vessel inspired by ceramic artists presented in class discussion.

(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

Vocabulary (Elements/Principles):

  • color
  • shape
  • line
  • texture
  • balance
  • unity
  • proportion
  • form
  • value
  • space
  • contrast
  • emphasis
  • movement
  • pattern
  • rhythm

Materials and Procedure:

Day 1:
Introduce students to the work of MN ceramic artists. Show short PlayList videos clips of Dorian Beaulieu, Joan Farnam, and Kristy Downing.
Compare and contrast their work. Start discussion with students: “What do you see?” “Whose work speaks to you most? Why?” Use vocabulary to discuss ceramic work regarding both decorative and utilitarian aspects.

Give each student drawing paper and pencils to create drawings of different shapes and forms of vessels. Encourage small group conversations about types of vessels/containers, uses of, time periods in which vessels have been used and created, etc. Create slideshow of work for students to refer to.

Day 2:
Use class time to show PlayList video of Karin Kramer. This video shares her work, process, and enthusiasm for ceramics.

Day 3-7+:
Students create their own vessel, either thrown on a wheel, or hand built with red or white earthenware clay. This lesson is written assuming that students have access to ceramics studio with all needed materials and tools. Students are challenged to incorporate inspiration found from one of the four artist videos shown during class discussion. Students will bisque fire and glaze fire all finished work. *Optional: Students can hold an art exhibition to showcase work. Students can fill role of curator, and contact local venue for exhibition, or arrange art show in house. Showcasing student work is crucial to learning. Have fun!



Karin Kraemer websites:

Dorian Beaulieu websites:

Kristy Downing:

Joan Farnam:

Tweed Museum of Art:

Duluth Art Institute:

National Standards for Visual Arts:

High School 9-12

VA: Cr1.1.Ia - I can use multiple approaches to begin creative endeavors.
VA: Cr1.2.Ia - I can shape an artistic investigation of an aspect of present- day life using a contemporary practice of art or design.
VA: Cr2.2.1a - I can explain how traditional and nontraditional materials may impact human health and the environment and demonstrate safe handling of materials, tools, and equipment.
VA: Cr2.3.1a - I can collaboratively develop a proposal for an installation, artwork, or space design that transforms the perception and experience of a particular place.
VA: - I can analyze and evaluate the reasons and ways an exhibition is presented.
VA: - I can analyze and describe the impact that an exhibition or collection has on personal awareness of social, cultural, or political beliefs and understandings.
VA: - I can hypothesize ways in which art influences perception and understanding of human experiences.
VA: - I can analyze how one’s understanding of the world is affected by experiencing visual imagery.
VA: - I can document the process of developing ideas from early stages to fully elaborated ideas.

National Visual Arts Standards link:

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.

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