In Ancient Greek black-figure pottery, the figures were painted with liquid clay that turned black when heated, leaving the background the color of the clay. In this activity, students can replicate that art style by painting a terracotta pinch pot.


  • Terracotta-colored air dry clay

  • Black acrylic paint

  • Paintbrushes

  • Sponge (optional)

  • Containers for water, paint & mixing

  • Newspaper or plastic sheets

  • Glue & Water


  1. Look at images of black-figure pottery for inspiration and sketch out your design on a piece of paper.

  2. Cover your workspace with newspaper or a plastic sheet. 

  3. To make a pinch pot, knead a piece of clay and roll it into a ball. Push your thumb into the middle of the ball, but don’t push it all the way through – leave some clay at the bottom for your base. Turn the clay in you hand as you pinch the sides of the ball with your fingers until you have the pot shape you want.

  4. Use a damp sponge to smooth out the sides (optional)

  5. Let your clay pot air dry overnight.

  6. Once your pot is dry, paint the base of the pot black. Leave upside down to dry, then paint the inside and the rim black as well. This should leave a band of bare clay on the outside of your pot.

  7. Using your sketch for reference, paint your design on the band and let dry.

  8. Mix one part glue with one part water. When your pot is dry, paint a thin layer of the glue solution on your pot to protect it.