The Importance of Pottery
• Storage containers, cookware
and dishes were as necessary
for the Ancient Greeks as they
are for us.
• Without much glass and with
metal being expensive, clay
was a very handy material.
• Clay is inexpensive and
• It is weathered rock that has
crumbled to dust.
• The impurities in clay give
it varying colors.
▫ For instance, red clay
• It is easily worked and can be
shaped as desired.
• Once fired it is quite strong and
• It makes an ideal material for
containers of all sorts.
• Clay turns to ceramic once fired
in a Kiln.
• Clay is kneaded and thrown on a
• As the wheel spins, the potter
shapes the clay and forms it into
the desired shapes.
• Large pots are made in sections.
Handles, feet and spouts were also
• Sections are glued together with a
layer of thin, watery, clay, known
as a slip.
• The coil method is one of the oldest
techniques in ceramics. To begin, you
will roll strips of clay into a worm shape
piece. This can be any shape or size,
depending on how large the overall
piece will be.
• After making the coils, you place them
over one another and blend them
together. This will latch the pieces as
• This can be repeated until you decide
when the piece is large enough. This
technique is good for making pots and
• Only men were allowed to make pots in
Ancient Greece, though women were
permitted to paint them.
• Pottery was frequently made by slaves.
• What survives is often not high art. Really
valuable containers tended to be made of
bronze, silver or gold. However, little of
this survives because the metal was reused.
Pottery fragments, having no real value,
• Despite it being a lesser form than
metal-craft, some excellent
• Greek pottery and painting evolved
into a significant art form.
Pots were shaped
Periods and Styles
• Pottery is one of the oldest surviving art forms from
• Works and fragments survive from the 2nd millennium
BC to the end of the 1st century BC.
• Greek pottery was traded throughout the Mediterranean
world and beyond.
• As Greek pottery became more popular,
potters paid more attention to details
on their work.
• Instead of just the one wavy line, now
lots and lots of lines and patterns began
to crowd over every inch of the pots.
• Zigzags, lines, circles, squares, etc. filled
• Many potters put symbols throughout
their work they created, with a personal
• The Black-figure style really did not
dominate until the 6th century BC.
• Artists painted black images
silhouetted against the natural red
• Details were inserted by etching the
• White or purple paint could then be
• The red-figure style appeared
between 530-525 BC.
• It was achieved by simply reversing
the black figure painting.
• The red figures are kept and the
background is painted.
• This is more difficult but it allowed
the design to be seen better at a
distance and it leaves the shape of the
pot more visible.
Classical Period & Style
• As the classical period came to be,
pottery took a turn for the worse.
• Some suggest that pottery artists
were trying to outdo the painters of
the day. However, this cannot be
confirmed or denied, since no
paintings had survived.
Classical White Ground
• One significant innovation
was the painting of a large
part of the pot with a white
• This created almost a
canvas upon which the
artist could easily work.
• By the end of the 5th century BC, pottery
painting seemed to lose its status as an
art form. Some suggest that metal bowls
and vases were now favored by the rich.
• In the 3rd century BC, the painting of
pottery before firing seem to end.
Decoration was now separate from
• You will be creating a Greek-Inspired Pot.
• Think of your own Greek Myth, Symbol, or
• On paper, sketch out your choice of a design:
▫ Geometric Style (Create 2 personal symbols)
▫ Orientalized Style (Combining shapes and
▫ Black or Red Figure Narrative
Remember not to draw anything too small because it
will be too hard to paint on your pot!
Art symbol is a drawing that
represents a symbol. Ex. heart
stands for love
This is my symbol I created to
place on my pot. It is simple and
clean! The symbol is zigzags
going up and down. It stands for
my town or village. I chose this
because it means a lot to me and
shows strong unity or family in
Your pot should have
shapes and animals!
Black or Red Figure Narrative!
Create a story that speaks to you! You can create
any narrative, like a war scene, daily living, a
time in your life! Be CREATIVE!
• As you create your Greek Pot, how will the
overall form look?
• Will your pottery have a top, bottom piece,
handle, cap, etc…
• Will your pot have a good surface to paint on?
• What will your pottery contain? Will it hold
water or be a container for food?
Later, we will take your
drawing and actually
create it in clay!