Story-Dream Tile Lesson


I start Ceramics at Waconia High School with this project “Story-Dream Tile” to teach students how to throw slabs, foreground, middleground, background, patterning, relief (subtractive + additive methods), and how to carve in the leatherhard stage. If you wish to see more story-dream tiles please click on the image above.

  1. I first have students write down a story from the summer or in the last couple years (or a dream).
  2. They then brainstorm on objects they may need to look at in order to draw these tiles.
  3. I allow them to go to the computers and print off images if needed.
  4. They draw two thumbnail images (get checked off) and are then allowed to go onto a final design.
  5. I show students how to create a slab, punching holes through design to transfer image onto slab, and add a slab by slipping and scoring.
  6. I also show how to carve in the leather hard stage. A main goal is to have students add as much as they take away – TIP – no needle point carvings (unless texture) but carve away SHAPES or thick lines
  7. Another TIP – Student will want to do beach scenes – they may but they cannot be typical! Encourage them to do a story from the last year to cut down on this or to have them active in the image.

Below are some files that I use to guide the project feel free to use them!

-Shalanah Backus

Designing Art Lessons

One of my favorite things about teaching is designing art lessons. I love the problem-solving and research involved in fitting all the pieces together to set students up for awesome outputs. And my major tip for designing any lesson (even if you know generally what you wish to do) is to, “try it yourself“! It is amazing that such a small concept can outline the whole assignment for you. Don’t underrate it!

-Shalanah Backus