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Hand Built Hen


Products Used

  • Hand Built Form
  • UG-46 Bright Yellow, UG-50 Jet Black, UG-51 China White, UG-57 Spice Brown, UG-85 Orange Sorbet, UG-203 Squash Yellow, UG-208 Dragon Red, UG-209 Jade, UG-214 Peachy Pink, S-2101 Crystal Clear Brushing
Decorating Accessories
  • CB-406 #6 Pointed Round, CB-604 #4 Soft Fan, 10080 - Xiem Carving Tools, 10083 - Xiem Carving and Sculpting tools, X10197 - Soft Silicone Rib #5, BT-910 Synthetic Sponge, MT-002 Wood Grain Mat, ST-125 Wave Stamp
Additional Materials
  • Pencil, Moist Clay, Rolling Pin, Leaf-shaped cookie cutter
UG hen

Designer: Adena Griffith
Techniques: Hand Building, Glaze Blending, Brushwork
Course Length: 2 weeks
Level: Advanced, grades 9-12
Lesson Plan: Hannah Kinker-Clark
Cross Curriculum: American History (literature)
Download: Hen Lesson Plan


Throughout the 20th century, agriculture was a cornerstone in the framework of American life. Like literature and music, art was greatly influenced by aspects of farming crops and animals, as well as the stories of the families that worked to grow them. In this project, students will learn about the how animals played a huge role in generating farm growth, specifically the role of barn animals. Students will create a hen: focusing on a realistic animal form, including textured feathers and facial features.


  • Students will learn the steps of creating with clay including construction, bisque firing, glazing, and glaze firing.
  • Students will connect how different aspects of agriculture relate to their daily life, as well as develop figurative sculpting techniques.
  • Students will be able to focus on their creative skills by learning how to incorporate texture in the feathers and facial features of their designs.
  • Students will complete the their artwork by developing brushwork skills and color choices that enhance the design of their hen.

National Standards

  • Demonstrate technical skill and craftsmanship in the use of materials, tools and technology to solve an artistic problem.
  • Identify how an artist’s choice of media relates to the ideas and images in the work.
  • Develop awareness and articulate various functions of art.



  1. Create a simple form using the coil building method. This can be done with small or large coils depending on how big you would like your hen. For the base of the form, build layers upward until you have a shape resembling a halved football. For the head build layers in the shape of a sphere.
  2. Now that you have constructed the basic shapes for the hen, continue by rolling out a few slabs approximately ¼” thick each. Make sure to smooth out each slab with tjhe long side of X10197 - Soft Silicone Rib #5 to prevent surface cracks in the future. Once the surface is completely smooth, apply the MT-002 Wood Grain Mat with a rolling pin to ensure even pressure. Once the mat is completely pressed into the clay slab, slowly peel the mat back to reveal the decoration transferred to the clay. Next, allow the slab to dry to soft, leather hard state.
  3. Proceed by using a leaf shaped cookie cutter to cut out the feather shape. If you do not have access to a leaf shaped cookie cutter, then simply use a pin tool to cut out leaf shapes. Once you have cut out the leaf shapes, move forward by attaching the leaves to the layers created earlier on the chicken form. Be sure to remember to score each piece and apply slip at each connection point. Also begin attaching the leaves at the bottom of the bird and move your way up to the head.
  4. Be sure to leave a space for the belly to apply the ST-125 Wave Stamp.
  5. Once you are finished with attaching all the leaves, proceed by using 10080 - Xiem Carving Tools and 10083 - Xiem Carving and Sculpting tools to create the eye and beak.
  6. Once the clay is completely dry, and no longer cold to the touch, bisque fire your sculpted chicken to cone 03/04.


  1. Moisten a clean sponge and wipe bisque to remove any dust.
  2. Use CB-406 Pointed Round to brush on UG-46 Bright Yellow, UG-50 Jet Black, UG-57 Spice Brown, UG-85 Orange Sorbet, and UG-203 Squash Yellow to the body. Apply the glaze in a layered fashion. Start with darker colors then move to the lighter colors. Go over each color until you satisfied with your design. Do not let the layers dry completely between each coat of glaze as you want the colors to blend and intermix.
  3. Next, use CB-406 Pointed Round to brush UG-51 China White, UG-208 Dragon Red, UG-209 Jade, and UG-214 Peachy Pink on the eyes and beak. Apply the glaze in layers, again creating a blended effect. Start with the darker colors and move to the lighter tones until you have reached your desired look.
  4. Using water, thin down a small amount of UG-50 Jet Black to create a wash. Apply the wash heavily using CB-604 #4 Soft Fan, and then allow it to dry. Once dry, use a lightly dampened sponge to gently wipe away most of the lack coloring until you reveal the layers of glaze underneath. Be sure not to wipe too hard - you don't want remove the colors  below the black wash. If you prefer, you can first fire the piece to cone 04/06, and then apply the wash.
  5. Lastly, apply two solid coats of S-2101 Crystal Clear Brushing Glaze using the CB-604 Soft Fan brush to the entire piece.
  6. Once the glaze is completely dry, glaze fire to cone 05/06.

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