Crossing Borders/Breaking Boundaries
The Portuguese Empire in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries
July 16-24, 2007
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I. Unit of Study:                                  Three-dimensional Coil Pottery

II. Lesson Title/Length of Time:       Blue and White Pottery
Five or six 50-minute art classes

III. Author/County:                            Elaine Jones
Montgomery County, MD

IV. Grade Level/Subject Area(s):     5th Grade Art


V. Abstract

Through studying the travels of the Portuguese during the 16th and 17th centuries, students will find evidence that cross-cultural encounters inspire artistic productions of both countries involved.  Students will learn that the blue and white porcelain originated in China and that the Portuguese started the spread of this art form throughout Europe.  Each culture incorporated its own influence as well as the style and imagery of the Chinese.

VI. Background

Prior to this lesson the students will have learned about Portuguese trade routes and their cartography skills.  The lesson that follows the blue and white pottery will consist of studying and recreating ivories that combined both African and Portuguese elements in them.

VII. Materials

  • 100 lbs. of white stoneware clay
  • Large airtight plastic containers
  • Clay cutting and scoring tools
  • A variety of brushes
  • Clay tools
  • Vinegar
  • A variety of brushes
  • Clear glaze (1 gal)
  • Cobalt Blue glaze (9 pts.)

VIII. Resources:

  • PowerPoint presentation:

“Tracking the Spoils of the Santa Caterina: Recovering Portugal's Role in the Diffusion of Culture Between Europe and Asia”

IX. Standards/Learner Outcomes

A. Fine Arts Standards:

  • Aesthetic 1.1.a
    • Students will demonstrate the ability to perceive, interpret, and respond to ideas, experiences and the environment through visual art
    • Identify and describe observed form
    • Analyze how physical qualities of people, animals, and objects are represented through the elements of art
  • Historical 2.2.b
    • Students will demonstrate an understanding of visual art as an essential aspect of history and human experience
    • Classify reasons why people create and use art by studying artworks and other sources of information
    • Identify artistic styles and forms of expression from different times and places
  • Production 3.2.b
    • Students will demonstrate the ability to organize knowledge and ideas for expression in the production of art
    • Investigate a variety of ways that artists develop ideas and organize the elements of art in responding to what they see, know, and feel
    • Identify and describe the elements of art selected principles of design such as pattern, repetition, contrast, balance, variety and unity in artworks
  • Criticism 4.1.a
    • Students will demonstrate the ability to identify, analyze, and apply criteria for making aesthetic judgments
    • Develop and apply criteria to evaluate personally created artworks and the artworks of others
    • Compare selected artworks using art vocabulary derived from the elements of art and selected principles of design to discuss the content, forms, and artistic styles represented

B. Content Standards:

Standard 5.A.1.b: History:

Students will examine significant ideas, beliefs, and themes; organize patterns and events; and analyze how individuals and societies have changed over time in Maryland and the United States.

  • Topic A. Individuals and Societies Change Over Time
    • Indicator 1. Analyze the chronology and significance of key historical events during the age of European exploration. Evaluate the results of the interactions between European explorers and native peoples .

X. Objectives/Skills

A. Fine Arts Objectives:

  • The student will observe the cross-cultural exchange of ideas and imagery in the blue and white pottery and see the influences of various cultures in the artwork.
  • The student will create a coil pot or plate and use elements of art and principles of design seen in the exemplars to glaze in the style of blue and white pottery.

B. Content Objectives:

  • The student will learn about the Portuguese ship that was captured by the Dutch and brought about the mania in Europe over the blue and white pottery.
  • The student will familiarize themselves with the differences and similarities between the artwork represented on the blue and white pieces from different countries. 

XI. Keywords/Vocabulary:

  • Blue and White Porcelain
  • Santa Caterina
  • Coils
  • scoring the clay

XII. Motivation

The display of a variety blue and white pottery items from different countries will reveal similarities and differences in the end products.

XIII. Scope and Sequence

A. Teacher Directed:

Day 1:

  • Teacher will give the background of the blue and white porcelain through a PowerPoint presentation.
  • Afterwards, students will pair off and have a tea party using the blue and white teapot. While having "tea" they will list the differences and similarities of two of the artifacts on display using art vocabulary.
  • We will list the findings of their discussed attributes on the board. These can be included on the student artwork along with any original designs the student creates.

Day 2:

  • Teacher demonstrates building a coil pot/plate to the class.
  • A rubric is introduced and posted with expectations for the project.

B. Guided Practice:

Day 1:

  • Teacher will model the technique of rolling thick clay coils.
  • The student will use the remaining class time to produce as many thick coils that time allows.  These are then stored in an airtight container until the following class.

C. Independent Practice:

Day 2:

  • Students will use coils made from the previous class to build a base and begin to form the sides of their piece for the remainder of the class.  Again, the pieces will be kept in the airtight container until the following class.

Day 3:

  • Students will add to the coil project by rolling more thick coils, smoothing the coils and adding any desired details (handles, lids, etc.).

Day 4:

  • While the pots are air drying the students will draw a rendition of their coil piece.
  • They will design the patterns and drawings that will be added to their bisque-fired piece the following week.  The rubric entries of the design and glazing elements will be pointed out again.

Day 5:

  • Students will paint with blue glaze their coil piece using the sketch they designed the previous week.
  • After letting that blue glaze dry, they will paint two thin coats of clear glaze over top of the entire piece, except the bottom.

XIV. Assessment:

The rubric presented at the beginning of the project will be used to assess the student's work. The rubric used was as follows:

Blue and White Pottery Assessment

_____ The coils made for the pottery are thick and rolled smooth for a uniform thickness. 

_____ The coils are smoothed together evenly to produce a relatively flat surface.

_____ The design painted on the pottery is interesting and reveals the strong contrast of the blue and the white.

_____ The glaze is painted neatly onto the bisque-fired clay piece.      
_____ Total    


  • 4 is an O
  • 3 and 2 are an S
  • 1 and 2 are N

XV. Closure:

Students will share their projects with the class and inform them how they choose their design for their blue and white coil piece.

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Sponsored by
the Center for Renaissance & Baroque Studies
and the Maryland State Department of Education