Experiments in decorative hand building techniques in the plastic state

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One can make a host of useful and decorative items with clay, it can be gritty, earthy, soft or satiny and invites the hands to mould and shape it. Clay also abounds in Ghana and it is malleable in its raw state but when fired becomes hard and durable. It is noted that, for a very long time only a few methods have been used in Ghana to make ceramic works in the Senior Secondary Schools. These include the pinch, coil, slab and throwing methods. Most wares are also decorated only in the leather-hard or bisque state using slip painting, using engobes, glazing, incisions and indigenous firing technique. Unfortunately, due to lack of commercial engobes and glaze for ceramic decoration, a large majority of works done by students lack variety of decoration in the plastic or bisque state. This project involved some experiments to find new ways of making and decorating ceramic wares in the plastic state. The experiment involved making of small shapes or knobs of clay and using them to build ceramic wares, which serve as a form of decoration on the surface. The various activities involved, making of clay knobs, the building processes using the clay-bail pot technique, half-bail technique, button technique, short coil technique, combined technique and brick technique. These techniques were later introduced to the students of Technology Secondary School in Kumasi and tested. The result of the experiments was very successful. Different types of pots were produced with very decorative surfaces. These include, clay ball ashtray, flower vase, half-ball multi-purpose ware, penholders, clay button vase, pin container, jewel boxes etc. It was observed that the introduction of these new techniques to the students gave them a feeling of independence and self-confidence. It also promoted uniqueness, cooperation, tolerance and patience. It enhanced the aesthetic quality of their ceramic works. It is however strongly recommended that the introduction of these techniques to other S.S.S ceramic students in the country and incorporating them in their syllabus will go a long way to bring variety of ceramic decoration in the green state or bisque state.
A thesis submitted to the Department of Art Education, College of Arts and Social Sciences, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the award of Master of Arts in Arts Education, 2004