Art pottery is one of North Carolina's most important and enduring cultural traditions. We spend some time looking at and discussing the origins of this tradition, focusing in on historical and contemporary face jugs (or "ugly jugs" as they are sometimes called). These came to our state by way of the traditions and art of Africans enslaved in the Carolinas. In this unit, we adapt the idea of these ugly jugs to a hollow, spherical rattle.
Our rattles are made by creating two pinch pots of identical size and filling one with several pea-sized balls of clay wrapped in paper towel to keep these "rattlers" from sticking to the side of the wet clay. (The paper towel burns away during the firing process.) The two halves are then connected to make the sphere, and the seam between the two is smoothed away. A small hole is drilled into the hollow center to allow heated air to escape during firing and avoid cracking the piece. Over the course of two more sessions, students learn about the "scratch and attach" method of connecting decorations or other features to ceramics, and they create their face rattle characters.
The rattles pictured above spent the break drying before being fired this week. Students will no get a chance to paint their details with underglazes before a final firing.