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Black-on-Black Pottery

Discover the famous black pottery of New Mexico! These drawings capture both the matte and shiny surfaces of these unique pots.

  • Grade 6
    Grades 7 and 8
  • Multiple Lesson Periods
  • Directions

    1. Around 1919, black on black pottery was developed by a Pueblo woman named Maria Martinez, and her husband, Julian. Before they discovered this beautiful art form, they had been successful potters, creating beautiful polychrome (many colors) pottery.
    2. Black on black pottery is still produced in the villages of San Ildefonso, where Maria Martinez lived, and Santa Clara, New Mexico. It is collected by people from all over the world because it is so beautiful.
    3. Have students research the artwork of these two villages. This delicate pottery is made by carving designs into highly polished black pottery. These designs are left with a dull (matte) finish, which contrasts with the shiny surface. The main difference between the pottery of the two villages is the thickness of the pottery walls, with the pottery of Santa Clara being the thicker of the two.
    4. Make similar pottery designs with a matte surface and shiny designs. To create patterns for Black on Black Pottery, cover the work area with recycled newspaper. Use black Crayola® Tempera and Paint Brushes to fill a sheet of white construction paper. Dry.
    5. Look at examples of black on black pottery for ideas about the shapes of this pottery and the designs etched in it. Fold the painted sheet in half. Use Crayola Scissors to cut several balanced pottery shapes from the paper. The fold will be at the center of the pieces.
    6. Open the pottery shapes. Use a silver Crayola Metallic Colored Pencil to draw authentic designs on the black pottery.
    7. With a Crayola Glue Stick, mount each of the pottery pictures on white paper. Trim the paper very closely to the image. Glue to a colorful construction paper background. The white paper brings out the form of each piece of pottery.
  • Standards

    LA: Read and comprehend complex literary and informational texts independently and proficiently.

    LA: Gather relevant information from multiple print and digital sources, assess the credibility and accuracy of each avoiding plagiarism.

    LA: Report on a topic or text or present an opinion, sequencing ideas logically and using appropriate facts and relevant, descriptive details to support main ideas or themes; speak clearly at an understandable pace.

    SS: Describe ways in which language, stories, folktales, music, and artistic creations serve as expressions of culture and influence behavior of people living in a particular culture.

    VA: Intentionally take advantage of the qualities and characteristics of art media, techniques, and processes to enhance communication of experiences and ideas.

    VA: Select and use the qualities of structures and functions of art to improve communication of ideas.

    VA: Analyze, describe, and demonstrate how factors of time and place influence visual characteristics that give meaning and value to a work of art.

  • Adaptations

    Students use black Crayola Model Magic to sculpt a 3-D pottery representation of black-on-black pottery.

    In small groups, students research the symbols used by the traditional potters in New Mexico. Students choose symbols that tell a story and use these for pottery pictures.

    Students research other pottery styles prevalent in New Mexico culture. Prepare an electronic presentation summarizing research and upload it to a classroom computer for viewing.


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  • Creativity.
  • Capacity.
  • Collaboration.
  • Change.
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