During second quarter Kapa’a Middle School Art students created a ceramic sculpture with a Hawaiian tiki theme. Along with clay hand-building techniques such as coil and slab building, students also explored the history and symbolism of tikis. These modern tikis represent students’ unique interpretation of an ancient cultural practice. While some students chose to include symbolism representing one of the four ancient tiki gods Lono, Kanaloa, Ku or Kane, others chose to invent their own tiki god.

This week I’m loading up the kilns to prepare for bisque firing. When students return from Winter Break they will finish by glazing their sculptures. Stay tuned for the final Artworks!

By Julia

14 thoughts on “Tiki Sculpture Progress”
  1. Greetings from SC. I’m an art teacher here at Broome and I am starting a 3_D class here for next school year and one of my students found your site. I love your tikis! Would you mind sharing this lesson with me? You can find my email on the staff site. Or you can email me at clem35yeah@yahoo.com

  2. Hi! I think this lesson is really awesome! I teach art at a juvunille detention center and think the kids would really enjoy something like this. Happy holidays:)

  3. These tiki’s are brilliant!! I would love to challenge my students with this project next trimester. If you have a lesson plan that you are willing to share or some useful tips…I would greatly appreciate any help you could offer.

  4. I would love to make these with my Art8 students… would you please share some of your introduction materials or research resources with me?

  5. Aloha All! Thanks for the positive responses… this turned out to be a really successful lesson that my students LOVED! I’m sorry to those of you requesting a lesson plan because I don’t create formal lesson plan documents (It’s not really my style and honestly doesn’t help me teach). I delivered some “mini-lessons” on tiki history, style, and symbolism. If I had more time, I would have also compared/contrasted with other ancient multicultural art forms. We practiced drawing different versions of Lono, Ku, Kanaloa, and Kane in sketchbooks as a class before students came up with their own designs.
    This is how I broke down the lesson in terms of clay construction and demonstrations (we built from the bottom, up):
    1. Clay wedging and care (how to keep clay moist/leather hard for the duration of the project)
    2. Slab base- a simple circle. We traced the bottom of a squirt bottle as a template.
    3. Coil construction- minimum 3 different coil patterns/designs
    4. Slab cylinder and tiki face (adding & removing clay to create features)
    5. Additional carving and textural designs
    6. Glazing (after bisque)
    I hope that helps!

  6. These are wonderful! How long did it take to do the clay pieces? How big are they? It’s hard to get a sense from the photos. Can’t wait to see the update after they’re done with the glaze!

  7. I would like to learn more about this tiki project. I had so much fun last year.

  8. One thing that I like about these sculptures are the designs on it. I want to learn more about tikis.

  9. I am an art teacher in Seattle, and I told my partner “Maybe we can get permission from our school for a trip to Kauai to meet you!” I’m only partly kidding. Your student work is phenomenal and we want to know how you achieve it.

    We have been doing clay masks for years with our 7th graders and decided to switch it up. We will launch ourselves into a Tiki sculpture project. To make it meaningful we will engage in some cultural discussion and research. Among the few questions we have are:

    Do the students coils up first, then add slab and then add the face on the slab?

    How are these 7th graders so able to make such tidy, crisp designs? Do they attach the pieces after they are a bit leathery? My experience is that young students squish things a lot, and are not careful. Also they resist all the tidying.

    You say you used 4 months. We meet twice a week for 45 minutes and could have through December. Doable?

    We plan on having them make a little coil pot first, a pot that keeps the coils visible on the outside, employs some negative space, and uses little balls as well…just to give them experience in this type of thing. We will have some new students who are not too familiar with clay. Any other suggestions?

    Thank you, Julia. I wish you a thrilling year of art with your students!! You are an inspiration.

    Margery Ziff
    Lakeside School

  10. These are phenomenal. I would love the lesson plan. The decorative techniques used are advanced for this age group. A successful project is always the result of a well planned lesson plan.
    Mary Ellen

  11. I love, love, love this project. Thank you so much for sharing. This year I am planning on changing the focus from Tiki to totems of the Northwest Pacific First Nation People. Teaching coil building and culture while allowing for each student’s creative expression. Thanks again for the idea.

  12. I do a similar project with High Schoolers in a level 2 scuplture class and these are… Wow!
    Great job!
    We start with a thick slab cylinder and carve into it much like you would if it were a tree. But, I must say that I love all of the additions.
    I think that you have convinced me to coil build if only for the benefit of all of the great textures.

  13. I loved your tiki designs so much so I had to write to say thank you for sharing!!! I made several imitating your designs to grow lucky bamboo at my home tiki bar. I love how you are able to connect with the students and bring out both their creativity and teach them how to finish elegant artwork that any gallery would like to exhibit. I have also checked out your other student artwork. The school you teach at is very lucky to have such a talented artist that can bring so much to her school and community. Once, in Vieques, Puerto Rico, at the airport there were tiles of children’s art. One was a drawing, and it said, “get to work, or you’re fired” in a thought bubble. Clearly the kid overheard a phone conversation. It made me laugh at the way kids view adult life. All the other artwork tiles were great too. I hope you take all that talent and teaching ability and do a tile installation someplace. That would be inspirational and super to see! There was another neat art project in New York City made of yellow sticky notes that everyone in the subway would write notes about how they felt and stuff in the city. You might like viewing that book too if considering doing a tile mural. It was inspiring and insightful. How art helps us all express what is around us; as well as the amazing ability to unify us as human beings. Another book series I liked was about young artists, and I had no idea that Van Gough’s spirals were his young drawings of churros! What great reading! So fun.

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