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Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Going GREEK! Scratch into history with Greek Vases/Pots

Miss Oetken's scratchtastic Greek Vase with Achilles from Greek Mythology

We've moved on in our art history time line to Greek and Roman art and we're concentrating on Black Figure Greek pots and vases! We learned about some of the popular basic shapes of pottery and their functions for what they were used for back in Greek and Roman times. I made two types of hand outs and worksheets for students. One that explained the basic shape of the popular vases we were looking at and another that show different examples of popular patterns found on Greek pottery. I also found the link to this website ( ) a wonderful tool for showing students via projector the types of pottery that existed, how it was made, and ancient history. They also had amazing, easy, and fun printable worksheets I photocopied on the back of the 'how to draw vases' hand out! I also explained that they would apply pigmented/colored slips to decorate with pattern and to create scenes of daily life events or scences from greek mythology. They would also use a 'sgrafitto' 'SCRah-Feet-oh' or scratch with a fine sharp tool to draw detail in the painted on slip. We also learned what 'slip' was, clay mixed with water and minerals to color it. We also wanted to scratch into art history so we made our own scratch board vases to draw into.

I painted my vase with  black acrylic paint after I
 colored it in and coated it with warm colored oil pastels.
Ready to scratch a design into!

Example of an ancient Greek Black figure Hydra vase
We also talked how important patterns were in the culture and the process of making the vase and looked at where it was usually applied, around the neck, handles, and base of the vase. 

Our first step after drawing the vase/pot was to choose a warm colors or cool colors oil pastels and totally COAT the entire vase, pressing hard. If you don't, the black paint will stick and absorb to those areas and won't easily be scratched away. 

Then after oil pastel fully colored and coated the entire vase, I had students use black acrylic paint to paint over wherever they colored in oil pastel. Next time it would be ready for scratching!

We used paper clip ends and wooden styluses to scratch away gently into vases and just remove the black paint exposing the colored oil pastel underneath.

Check out some of the finished products!

Greek Mythology scene

scenes from daily life from our civilization for another civilization to discover!

Soldiers resting

Popular patterns

soldiers in battle


  1. Kati,

    When are you going to stop amazing me?!?!?!?! NEVER, I hope! We need to talk sometime about you starting to submit some of your fabulous lessons to Art Education magazines like Arts&Activities or SchoolArts.

  2. Hah, are you serious? Okay. Will do. I love you get a kick out of this blog. That's what it's there for!:) Thanks for the compliments Rhonda!

  3. I love this project! I'm inspired to try something similar with my kiddos. What a beautiful way to experience ancient Greece.

  4. Exactly what I need for my 6th graders! thank you, thank you for a great project. Now to find the column tute for them to be displayed on :-)

  5. Do you have copies of the worksheets you might share? We just started our Greece unit. And my kids would love this!! Just let me know...

  6. Could you possibly use black tempra instead of acrylic?

  7. Did it take long for the black paint to dry over the colouring?

  8. did you mix the Acrylic with dish soap? or can you use it by itself? If the former, what is the recipe?

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