Art History Vases. (Middle School)

By Anziano, Elisabeth Anne | School Arts, May-June 2003 | Go to article overview

Art History Vases. (Middle School)


Anziano, Elisabeth Anne, School Arts


Papier-mache is an inexpensive medium that can incorporate a number of recyclables. Since we had no clay, I used this medium for a sixth grade unit on pottery. For this particular lesson, I focused on Classical Greek pottery forms. As a further review of art history, I decided to have students decorate their vases with impressions of famous paintings.

The lesson began with an introduction on Classical Greek pottery forms, in particular the amphora. I chose the amphora because of its traditional and recognizable shape. Students took notes on the function of the classical vase, with their attention focused on balance and symmetry. Students drew the contour of the amphora vase and planned their decoration. They researched art history books to find a particular painting that interested them.

The Process

Students assembled the found materials to create the traditional amphora form, using plenty of masking tape to hold everything together. Assembling the form is really just a matter of stacking. The quart container forms the base. The balloon rests in the top of the container, and the paper bowl sits on top of the balloon. The handles are tape on last.

For the papier-mache covering, we used newspaper for the first layer, colored magazine pages for the second layer, and brown paper towels for the final layers. It's important to complete this process in one studio period, before the balloon starts to deflate. …

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