Mud Puns

Metamorphic Mud

top angle on demo sculpture

For a high school level assignment in a ceramics class, I encouraged students to come up with word pairings and create a ceramic sculpture. This was a culmination assignment where in they would create the sculpture via techniques in exercises I taught earlier: coil and slab building, slip/scoring joins, and glazing.


The student response was great. Their ideas landed mostly in a ‘dad joke’ arena, and we all had a good time playing with the execution of their ideas. I would wonder the room and mostly talk physics and gravity went it came to building the pieces. The play part is enormously important in the studio environment, and it goes back to the Bauhaus ‘Education through play’ slogan I take heart in. As I have mentioned before, I’ve altered this by saying, “education through serious play,” and all that means is that a student develops a self awareness of imagination, (wild) speculation, and the freedom to experiment.


The assignment based its final product on the ideas of combining objects via artists like Renee Magritte and M. C. Escher. I also included an image from a science experiment where a lab grew a human ear on a mouse. Magritte examples included The Red Model and Collective Invention, Escher’s works included Cycle and Metamorphosis II.

Finishing Works

Work started with preconception via sketches to find out if their parings would work. Students faced challenges of technique mastery and even research-based design. As the students became more involved with their individual projects, the studio space became more communal. Having students sit 4-5 to a table facing each other helped as well. Students would even venture across the room to check progress of different students (who may not have even been friends and just impressed with the work).

Demo Piece

It’s also great for a teacher to get their hands dirty and demonstrate the various processes (physical and mental) to get from point A to point B. My idea came from reflecting back to one of my first college sculpture assignments where we essentially did the same thing. In discussion with the students (I already had my idea in mind), we discussed why the computer mouse/live mouse would work in various ways: similar size and shape, and even a similar characteristic–the cord and the tail.

Download Metamorphic Mud Lesson (4mb)

Share if interested

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *