Lesson Plan Making Face Jugs
- Example of North Carolina Face Jugs
- Clay tools
- Water containers
- Glazes and/or paint
- Broken china (for teeth)
- Discuss how artists use exaggerated face features to express
- Create a hand-built vessel with facial features
CraftingNorthCarolina web site connections:
250 Years of Clay: The face
jug tradition (African American & tourist whimsies)
Look@Gallery: NC 4th
graders make face jugs
Let's Go: Hear potter Sid Luck
talk about his work and the face jug tradition
NC Pottery Hall of Fame:
See folk potter Burlon Craig's "Weeping Eyes" face jug
Pottery-Mon trading cards
- Face jug
- Hand-built vessel
- Traditional pottery
- Ask students to look at examples of traditional
North Carolina face jugs.
- Describe the face? What makes it humorous, silly? Explain
to students that face jugs are also called "ugly jugs"
or "voodoo jugs." Explain that face jugs are very
popular collector items with the public.
- Explain that potters have made face jugs for years to
break up the monotonous task of making utilitarian pottery
for home and farm use. Explain that African-American slaves
also made face jugs as ceremonial vessels. These vessels
were passed down from one generation to the next.
- Look at the face jugs by 4th graders in the
- Explain that students will make their own face jugs.
- Help students generate ideas about facial features by
sketching ideas on a piece of paper. Students can look in
a mirror to view how their face changes with various expressions
or can divide into pairs and take turns drawing a classmate.
Have students exaggerate their facial features to create
- Distribute clay. Have students create vessels by rolling
slabs of clay, rolling snake-like coils, or making pinch
pots. For best results, have students make clay vessels
in one class period. Cover with plastic or place in plastic
bags for storage. During the next class, students will have
an easier time "facing" a vessel that is not too
soft or wet.
- Have students add clay facial features to their vessels.
List the following features on the board that students may
choose to apply (2) ears, (2) eyebrows, (2) eyes, (1) nose,
and (1) lips. Optional features include a moustache, tongue,
beard, and horns. Finally, if teeth are desired, it is recommended
that teachers carefully insert small broken pieces of china.
If china is not available, teeth can be made of clay and
painted with a white underglaze or painted after the vessels
have been fired.
- After clay face vessels have dried, works are ready for
the bisque firing. Commercial underglazes may be painted
on the vessels before this firing.
- The last step is glazing the vessels for the final firing.
Traditional glazes for face jugs are browns and greens.
Names like "tobacco-spit" and "frog-skin"
glazes are often used by North Carolina potters. If glazing
is not possible, students can paint or stain their face
jugs with acrylic paint, watercolor paint, or shoe polish.
- Display the face jugs. As students look at them, point
out the unique facial features and characteristics of individual
- Can students summarize why North Carolina potters created
face jugs? Do students have an appreciation of traditional
face jugs? Do students recognize the importance of the pottery
tradition in North Carolina?