4th grade Igbo and Yoruba Inspired Nigerian Coiled Clay Bowls

What a treasure it is to teach students from such diverse backgrounds. I love that my principal created a time for us to share, learn about, and celebrate all the cultures that make up our school’s diversity during Burks Culture Night.

In Culture Night, parents are invited to share about their culture’s clothing (and wearing traditional garments if they want), their county’s unique cuisine through food they cook to share, and any other cultural artifacts they want to share to help others learn about their rich heritage.

Each Specials class does their part in celebrating our cultures that make up the school’s student body. In art, each grade level creates a project studying a country of students’ heritage.

We have students from West Africa in Nigeria from the Yoruba, the Igbo, and the Mandinka tribes at our school. For this project, we focused on how the Igbo and Yoruba tribes’ clay historical vessels influenced our coiled clay bowls. We focused on the symbol-rich patterns of Adire fabric design for the Mandinka tribe in another project.

We started our class discussion by looking at a few examples of Igbo pottery. We looked at the curved lines on the vases, and we compared and contrasted them in our discussion. (Pic from Venice Clay Artists example)

Here’s another example of Igbo pottery posted by Ukpuru from one of my favorite museums, the British Museum.

Ukpuru’s Igbo postings were so helpful in our learning.

And thank you to Nairaland.com for posting this Igbo pottery image.

We also looked at how Yoruba pottery artists hand-formed clay mud fish, etc. from nature as the base for a clay bowl. (Pic from Quinn’s Auction Galleries)

We incorporated either some hand-formed clay wildlife from Nigeria or a modern reference as a nod to the Yoruba pottery with its hand-formed animal elements.

Each class was creating coils in their labeled Styrofoam bowls. We all started out smoothing the coils together for strength until one student asked if we had to smooth the inside. This was where I learned that you should either smooth the inside of the coiled bowls or really super tightly pack the coils together. How did I discover it was necessary for this process…?

We had about 6 or 7 pots either break or have parts of them split apart. That was surprising and disappointing but a tough reminder of how to build them. I’ve learned to make extras. (I just finish the teacher examples I start for class and make a few extras.)

We chose how to finish the rims and fired them.

After firing, we glazed them. It was a lot of work but they’re impressive when finished.

The students liked them, and it felt great to play a part in Culture Night.

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