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"A Faithful Attempt" is designed to showcase a variety of K-12 art lessons, the work of my art students, as well as other art-related topics. Projects shown are my take on other art teacher's lessons, lessons found in books or else designed by myself.
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Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Ceramic Inuksuk


My Grade 2 class made these ceramic inuksuit last year during the Vancouver Olympics. The logo for the 2010 Winter Olympics was based on the Inuit inusuk.
An inuksuk (from the Inuktitut: ᐃᓄᒃᓱᒃ) is a stone landmark is a stone figure built by the
Inuit of Arctic Canada, Alaska and Greenland.

They are monuments made of unworked stones that are used by the Inuit for communication and survival. The traditional meaning of the inuksuk is "Someone was here" or "You are on the right path." A familiar inuksuk is a welcome sight to a traveler on a featureless and forbidding landscape. Inuksuk were placed upon the landscape for different reasons: for navigation, as a point of reference, a marker for travel routes, fishing places, camps, hunting grounds, places of veneration, drift fences used in hunting or as a food cache.

An inuksuk can be small or large, a single rock, several rocks balanced on each other, round boulders or flat. Built from whatever stones are at hand, each one is unique.
An inuksuk-like monument in the form of a human being is called
an inunnguaq (an imitation of a person). Source 1.  Source 2.

Inuksuit at the Foxe Peninsula (Baffin Island), Canada   Image Source

So technically we made inunnguaq, because our figures were very human-like. I began by discussing what inuksuks are and what their purpose is. Also, if you have time, it's nice to show this video as it shows inuksuit in their natural state in the Arctic wilderness. In this video, Peter Irniq, Inuit cultural activist, explains the meaning of an Inuksuk.




To make these, start off with a small, flat, irregular, pancake-like shape. I emphasize to the students that the clay needs to be as thick as their biggest finger (or a quarter of an inch). I find with this age group, I really need to walk around and check each one, just to be safe. If the clay is too thin, you risk having the clay crack and break off as it dries. Too thick, and it just takes sooooo long to dry.

On top of the slab, 'scratch and attach' (we use toothbrushes or plastic forks and water)
two stumpy 'legs' and then another slab.


Then scratch and attach (using water) some more rock shapes....


And then end with a final rock on top. There are definitely no right or wrong ways to construct these- they are all individual and up to each artist.


I am paranoid about drying times, so leave mine out for a good 5-7 days before bisque firing them.
I supported the 'arms' with scrunched-up newspaper to prevent any of them bending.
After firing, students can paint or glaze them.



Yes, some students added faces- not traditional but they were having fun plus they're only like 6 or 7 years old! Unfortunately I didn't get any photos of the finished pieces, but they all turned out lovely and cute.


3 comments:

Kathy said...

Thank you for your informative post on the Inukshuit sculpture. It was especially helpful that you included the video as a resource. The pale blue glaze finished them off so nicely.

Art at Chesterbrook Academy Elementary School said...

Great project as always.
A great way for students to investigate the 3-D of things.

Miss said...

Thank you Kathy and Chesterbrook!

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