Jul 31, 2015

Koi Fish Bowls

Every now and then I say that this is my favourite project ever. This is one of those times. As a follow on from their Koi Fish Drawings, I had my grade 2 students create pinch pots containing tiny koi fish sculptures. 

The idea for this project came from the lovely tea cups made by ceramicist Mochi Liu. You can see them on his etsy site here. I was a little unsure how my students would go with sculpting such intricate and tiny fish but they really surprised me. I guess having tiny little hands definitely helps.  
My instructions were to roll a tiny piece of clay into a cylinder, then pinch one end to create a long teardrop shape. I then asked them to make three tiny triangles and attach them to the body to form the side fins and tail. We pressed the lid of a texta (thin marker) into the clay to create the scaly texture and the eyes. Having already studied pictures of koi fish and completed drawings, the students seemed to have a much better idea about transferring these ideas into three dimensions.  

The fish were painted using gloss glazes. I had planned to melt glass marbles in the bottom of each pot to create the look of water, as I have seen this done on other blogs, but after experimenting and having a couple of pots explode (why did this happen? Can anybody tell me?) I got most students to decorate the inside of their pot with oil pastels and blue edicol dye (food colouring) to create the look of water in the pond. I think they are the most adorable thing ever!


  1. These are adorable, what a great take on the traditional pinch pot.

  2. Those are fun, I bet the kids loved making them.

  3. Oh I love these! I wish I had a kiln in my art rooms!

  4. Are the fish attached to the bottom? I've never melted marbles in clay before, that sounds awesome! I've researched it before, and you have to put the marbles in bisque ware pottery then fire it with the marbles inside. Hope that helps!

  5. Love your Koi fish bowls, they are so cute! I have fused marbles to clay, they often crack and I found out after we had done it that it is not stable. A professional ceramicist friend said it was not recommended to combine marbles and clay as the two materials don't fuse together well. They can crack at anytime after, days, weeks etc. making them a bit dangerous for kids.

  6. These are so cute! Did you fire the bowls (or is this air dry clay?) after adding the pastel and dye?

    1. Hi Martha - they were fired and then pastels and dye added after firing.

  7. These are so cute! Did you fire the bowls (or is this air dry clay?) after adding the pastel and dye?

  8. Hi Anne
    I L-O-V-E all of your work and site. I even used your ideas for a unit on Tjanpi Desert Weavers animal sculptures this year - they worked out beautifully! [Some students are South African and made African animals]. One student visited the Northern Territory Art Gallery, during July school holidays and saw an exhibit by Tjanpi Desert Weavers, so brought a photograph to school. I was very excited, as you can imagine.

    Quick question about your Koi fish... Did you poke some air holes into the base to avoid explosions?!
    I think I will do THAT, even if I don't hear from you.

    Also...another art teacher suggested glass 'beads' rather than marbles for the water - as they are smaller and melt better. I am going to try it...

    Many thanks


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