I AM A COIL POT – Metaphor, Identity, Colour

In this 3-part lesson students use air dry clay to create a coil pot that is a personal metaphor, and use acrylic paint to colour it symbolically. Then they decorate a piece of paper that connects with their clay pot and use it to write an artist statement that describes their process and intentions.

Required Time

180 Minutes

Grade Level

Grade 4 to Grade 9


Language Arts
Visual Arts


artist statement colour metaphor symbolism


Crayola Air-Dry Clay 1.13 kg White Crayola Acrylic Paint - 6 Count Crayola Variety Brush Set - 5 Count Crayola Markers - 16 Count Crayola Marker & Watercolour Paper - 22.9 cm x 30.5 cm (9" x 12") Water Containers Paper Towels Plastic Lids for Palettes - about 12 cm (4.5") Diameter Plastic Containers - about 12 cm (4.5") Diameter - 1 per student Small Pieces of Sponge - about 3 cm x 4 cm (1" x 1.5") 1 per student

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I AM A COIL POT – Metaphor, Identity, Colour - Step One

Step One


  1. Use the How to Make a Coil Pot lesson plan available on this website to create a clay pot.
  2. Add details to represent parts of your identity.
  3. Allow the pot to dry for a week.
  4. It should be white when it is completely dry.
I AM A COIL POT – Metaphor, Identity, Colour - Step Two

Step Two


  1. Place the pot on an upside down plastic container.
  2. Use acrylic paint to apply colours that have a special meaning for you.
  3. Mix small amounts of paint on a plastic lid - a little goes a long way.
I AM A COIL POT – Metaphor, Identity, Colour - Step Three

Step Three

  1. When you have finished painting it, view the pot from all directions.
  2. Make any changes and clean up the edges.
  3. What does your coil pot say about you?
I AM A COIL POT – Metaphor, Identity, Colour - Step Four

Step Four


  1. Use the Decorated Pages lesson plan available on this website to decorate a piece of paper.
  2. Use design elements that connect with your coil pot.
  3. Write your artist statement on the decorated paper.

Learning Goals

Students will be able to:

  • create a coil pot that is a personal metaphor;
  • use colour symbolically;
  • write an artist statement that describes their process and intentions; 
  • demonstrate technical accomplishment and creativity;  
  • support their ideas with evidence found in the works.


Have students:

  • decide which pots would work well together in an art show and explain their rationale;
  • install the art show and include the artists' statements;
  • create a catalogue to accompany the art show;
  • take turns practising being docents for the art show;
  • invite others to view the show.


  1. Prior to this lesson have students learn how to join pieces of clay using the Score and Slip lesson plan available on this website.
  2. Teach/ review symbolic meanings for colour using the Colour Around the World lesson plan available on this website.
  3. Gather and make available, books about identity and symbolism, for example, I Love My Hair!, by Natasha Anastasia Tarpley, and E. B. Lewis; The Name Jar, by Yangsook Choi; I Am Mixed, by Garcelle Beauvais, and 4 more; The Best Part of Me: Children Talk About their Bodies in Pictures and Words, by Wendy Ewald; The Memory String, by Eve Bunting; The Wretched Stone, by Chris Van Allsburg; The Other Side, by Jacqueline Woodson; and Those Shoes, by Maribeth Boelts.
  4. Download and display the Form and Colour Posters  available on this website.
  5. Teach/review metaphor and symbolism.
  6. Download and copy the worksheet How to Write an Artist Statement – enough for 1 per student. (Downloads - WriteArtistStatement.pdf)
  7. Preview the How to Make a Coil Pot and Decorated Pages lesson plans available on this website.


  1. Give students 3 seconds to draw the following:
    - house
    - tree
    - apple
    - girl
    - love
  2. Share examples of the student drawings and compare them. Point out that the images are of specific things, but they have additional hidden or deeper meanings as well.
  3. Discuss possible hidden meanings for the various words/images.
  4. Draw attention to how many people used a similar symbol to express the emotion of love.
  5. Have students consider the heart.
    - list words and ideas associated with a heart
    - sort the words into 2 categories, literal meaning and hidden or deeper meaning, for example, muscle, blood, beat - love, romance, passion
  6. Ask students to consider how the hidden meaning of symbols can be used to get a message across.
  7. Conduct a read-aloud with a book about identity such as, The Name Jar and discuss the things that make each person special and unique.
  8. Introduce the challenge.


The Challenge

  1. Create a coil pot that is a metaphor for you.
  2. Use colour symbolically.
  3. Write an artist statement that describes your process and intentions.
  4. Demonstrate technical accomplishment and creativity. 
  5. Support your ideas with evidence found in the artworks.

The Process

  1. Make sure everyone understands the challenge.
  2. Establish success criteria with your students, for example,
    I know I am successful when I have:
    - constructed a clay coil pot using skillful handbuilding techniques
    - used score and slip joining technique correctly
    - created symbols that represent me
    - used colour symbolically
    - created a pot that is sturdy and in good condition
    - written an artist statement that effectively describes my process and intentions
    - created decorated paper that has elements that connect with my pot
  3. Guide students through the steps outlined in this lesson plan.
  4. Encourage students to always join clay using the score and slip technique.
  5. Observe students as they work. 
  6. Provide individual assistance and encouragement.


  1. Place students in groups of about 6.
  2. Ask them to view the pots and to share thoughts about the works.
  3. During the discussion include references to: 
    Symbolism - What does the symbolism tell you about the maker?
    - Colour - How does the colour add to your understanding of the metaphor?
    - Technical Accomplishment - How does correct score and slip joining technique contribute to technical accomplishment?
  4. Ask volunteers to share some ideas with the whole class. 


  1. Observe students as they work – thoughtful focus, discriminating, seeking more information, elaborating, experimenting.
  2. Observe students as they discuss their coil pots – speaks with a clear voice, looks at audience while speaking, points to areas in the design, provides accurate information, answers questions from the audience effectively.
  3. Observe students as they listen – looks at presenter, asks effective questions, supports ideas with evidence found in the artwork.
  4. Use a checklist to track progress. (Downloads - CoilPotMetaphor_tracking.pdf)
  5. Have students use the self-assessment form to reflect on their work. (Downloads - CoilPotMetaphor_self-assessment.pdf)