Shirley Huller White

Grade 9-12: Art Education

This lesson was developed in association with art educator Lotte Calnek.

All lessons presented here implement project and inquiry-based learning strategies, and meet or exceed Massachusetts Arts Curriculum Framework standards.

Artwork presented here may NOT be reproduced in any way.

Art Lesson/Unit: Grade Levels 9-12

Jomon Inspired Ceramic Sculpture: Ancient Japanese Pottery Design and Hand-Building Techniques

Enduring Understandings:

  • The Jomon people, a preliterate Japanese culture (about 9000 to 300 BC), created storage pots and vessels that represent some of the most powerful and dynamic coil pottery known to the world of art.
  • Many ceramic hand-building techniques have remained unchanged for thousands of years, and contemporary artists often use these same ancient methods.
  • Ceramic designs made by contemporary artists are often influenced and inspired by the designs of ancient or historical works of art.

Essential Questions:

  • How can you use hand-building techniques to create a Jomon style ceramic sculpture?
  • How might you plan and problem-solve your Jomon pot design with a preliminary sketch?
  • How does your Jomon pot design reflect inspirations from examples of ancient Jomon ware and contemporary Jomon pottery forms?

Exemplars and Inspirations:

This lesson is inspired by historical and contemporary examples of ancient Jomon ware and contemporary Jomon pottery forms.

Materials and Techniques:

  • Step-by-Step technique exemplars
  • Criteria and worksheet handouts
  • Sketchbooks or sketch paper, pencils
  • High fire clay and slip
  • Clay modeling tools
  • High fire glazes, glazing brushes
  • Plastic bags and plastic wrap
  • Canvas and wooden board work surfaces
  • Hand-building turntable/banding wheel


  • Students may choose to work in a historical or contemporary style
  • Depending on individual abilities, students may choose to create a functional or decorative sculpture