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9-12 A Desert Scene


Products Used

  • Low-fire clay body (Cone 06/05)
  • SC-43 Lettuce Alone, SC-7 Leapin' Lizard, SC-77 Glow Worm, SC-15 Tuxedo, SG-401 Black, SG-402 White, SG-403 Red, SG-404 Blue, SG-405 Green, SG-406 Brown, SG-407 Yellow, SG-408 Orange
Decorating Accessories
  • Soft Fan Brush, Sponge, Clay Carbon Paper
Additional Materials
  • Pencil
a desert scene

Designer: Josh Clark
Techniques: Hand-Building, Drawing, Brushwork
Course Length: 2 weeks
Level: Advanced, grades 9-12
Lesson Plan: Hannah Kinker-Clark
Download Plan: A Desert Scene


The American Southwest is a region characterized by desolate harsh environments, with little to no vegetation or animal life. The plant life and animals have adapted unique traits in order to survive the extreme conditions. Because of their colorful and rare appearances, artists like Georgia O'Keefe and Ansel Adams, have created numerous works of art inspired by their beauty. In this project, students will create their own scenes based on the desert landscape, including the biology of the land, and their own interpretations of artworks inspired by the Southwest.


  • Students will learn the steps of creating with clay including construction, bisque firing, glazing, drawing, and glaze firing.
  • Students will learn about the unique characteristics of life in the extreme environment of the desert.
  • Students will become familiar with renowned artists who were influenced by the landscape and wildlife of the Southwest region.
  • Students will create multiple elements of a scene in order to relate various artworks to a overarching theme.

National Standards

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


Part 1. Cactus Construction:
  1. Begin by rolling out coils into round donut shapes (rings). By building upward, make each coil ring slightly smaller than the one before. Using a score and slip method, attach the coil rings, building upward to a desired height.
  2. Using the same coil ring building method, roll coils to create the arms of the cactus. Score and slip the arm to attach to the cactus body. 
  3. Once construction is complete, allow cactus to dry slowly (lightly cover with plastic) until it is not longer cold to the touch.
  4. Bisque fire the cactus to cone 04.
Part 2. Surface Design:
  1. Begin with properly fired shelf cone 04 bisque. Moisten a clean sponge and wipe bisque to remove any dust.
  2. Use carbon paper to trace patterns you have selected onto the bisque - or draw freehand.
  3. Using the various Designer Liner colors (SG-401 Black, SG-402 White, SG-403 Red, SG-404 Blue, SG-405 Green, SG-406 Brown, SG-407 Yellow, SG-408 Orange) decorate the surface of the cactus.
  4. Once the Designer Liner has dried, use a soft fan brush to apply 2 coast of S-2101 Crystal Clear to the surface of the cactus. Allow glaze to dry completely between coats.
  5. After the glaze has dried, fire cactus to cone 06.

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