Friday, December 12, 2014

Dave the Potter

While at the New York Library Association (NYLA) conference in November, I was introduced to Bryan Collier, an artist and illustrator.  Mr. Collier's story was amazing.  He wanted to be an illustrator, but reaching his goal was not easy.  He met with publishers from different companies for SEVEN YEARS before he was offered a book deal.  His perseverance definitely paid off, as he is a well-known artist today.

One of the books that Mr. Collier illustrated is the picture book Dave the Potter: Artist, Poet, Slave.  The book is written by Laban Carrick Hill.

Dave the Potter: Artist, Poet, Slave by Laban Carrick Hill
The book describes the true story of a slave named Dave that lived in South Carolina.  Miraculously, Dave was given the task of creating pottery.  Other slaves dug the clay which Dave used for his work.  Over the course of his lifetime, Dave produced hundreds (maybe even thousands) of pots.  Each pot was a unique work of art.  The pots were made more unique because Dave often adorned his pottery with symbols, his name, and even lines of his own poetry.  This was truly remarkable because slaves were not normally taught to read or write.

After reading the book with the amazing students in Mrs. Proudman's class, we then decided to design our own pottery.  Students first drew the type of pot they would like to make.  Then they came up with their own sayings that they would carve into their pot, just like Dave the Potter would do.

Drawing a pot, using the book as a reference.

Concentrating on drawing the perfect pot!
Although we were delayed many weeks due to snowstorms and November break, we were able to plan a very special treat for Mrs. Proudman's class.  I happen to know a real life potter who was willing to come in and show the class how to make pottery!  Coincidentally, my potter friend is named Dave!  Dave and I have been friends since elementary school.

Mr. Dave brought in lots of different tools in order to help us make perfect pots.  He was happy to answer any questions that students had about pottery.  He even brought in a pot that he made himself.  This pot was similar in style to the pots that Dave the Potter from the book created.

Mr. Dave shows us how to score the pots, which makes it easy to lay down the clay coils.

Mr. Dave demonstrates how to make a pinch pot.
Mrs. Proudman's class is certainly full of artists!  It took a long time to make the pots, but they sure look beautiful.  We applied a glaze to the pots and they will be going to the kiln shortly to be fired.

In this picture you can see the pot that Mr. Dave brought in for us to see.

You start making a pinch pot by poking a hole in the middle.

Listening to Mr. Dave while creating a pot.

Hard at work!

These pots are close to being finished.

As an added surprise, Mr. Dave showed us how to make a tile out of clay.  He brought a tool with which we were all able to write our names or initials in the clay.  This will be an amazing souvenir for us to remember this visit for years to come.  It will be hard to top this library class, but Mrs. Proudman and I are looking forward to more fun projects in 2015!

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