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Art-Making Activity: Making a Coil Pot

If you or your students don’t have much experience working with clay, a coil pot is a great way to begin. Start by having your students make the base, or what Juan Quezada calls his “tortilla.” Have them roll out flat slabs of clay about the thickness of a slice of bread. They can use pointed tools or plastic knives (it may help to trace around a plate or bowl) to cut a round shape from the slab. Next, have them roll what Juan calls “chorizos,” coils of clay a little thinner than a hot dog, but longer. They will use the coils to build the sides of their pots. They should score the coils and the slabs with crosshatching marks at the places where they will be joined together and then attach the two pieces using slip, a thick liquid made by adding water to clay. Demonstrate how to use your fingers or a popsicle stick to blend the coils together to create a smooth surface. Have your students continue in this way until their pots are the desired height and shape. The techniques for finishing the pots will depend upon the type of clay used. Some types of clay can simply air dry, while others need to be baked in an oven or fired in a kiln.