Snake Bowl

The Incas made carved pots and containers in stone, wood and pottery with symbolic animals. The snake represented the underworld and the afterlife. Create this ancient piece of history yourself using clay and paints.

Snake Bowl

Skill Level

Beginner. Adult supervision needed

Time to Make

2 hours + drying time for clay and paint

Adult Supervision Needed

Yes

How to Make

    1. Cut the block of clay in half, then divide one piece in half again, to make 2 x ¼ sized pieces. Use one of these ¼ pieces to make the base for the pot. Re-wrap the remaining clay in the packaging then put it inside a plastic bag so it doesn’t dry out.
      Shape the clay into a ball then flatten it between the palms of your hands. Place the clay onto a plastic or wooden board as a work surface.
      Flatten the clay with a rolling pin to a depth of 8-10mm. Cut out circle 8cm in diameter for the base of the pot, using a roll of tape or a circular lid as a guide.
    2. Unwrap the clay in the bag. Take the other ¼ sized piece to make a strip for the sides of the pot.
      Shape the clay into a ball, adding in the left-overs from cutting out the base.
      Gently squeeze the clay with both hands to make a thick sausage. Place the clay onto your work surface then roll it with your fingers to make a longer sausage. Keep the shape even and smooth. Roll the clay to about 20cm in length.
      Carefully lift the sausage then press the clay between your thumb and fingers to begin flattening it. You can also lengthen the clay by gently pulling it. Once the clay had been flattened along the length, place it back onto your work surface and flatten it with a rolling pin to a depth of 8-10mm.
      To cut out a strip, place a ruler onto the clay then cut along the side with a modelling tool, make another cut, parallel to the first one, to make a strip about 4cm wide x 30cm in length.
      Trim the ends then lift it up and wrap it around the base. Use some water and a modelling tool to blend the edges of the strip together, adding small pieces of extra clay if necessary.
    3. To make a snake’s head, roll a 3cm clay ball, shape it into an oval, flatten one end by pressing it onto the work surface then score small lines on the flat surface.
      Use a modelling tool to score small lines on the side of the pot for positioning the head. Press the head onto the side of the pot. Use the tool to work around the edge of the head, apply water and more small pieces of clay if necessary. Gently press the head to shape it then add small clay pieces for eyes. Add another snake’s head on the opposite side of the pot. If heads don’t easily stick to the pot, try adding more water with small amounts of clay around the edge. Smooth the pieces together with a modelling tool. If the heads start to sink down, remove some clay to reduce the weight then re-shape with a modelling tool.
    4. To add a spiral decoration, coil the clay on your work surface then stick it onto the pot. Roll a thin clay strand, coil it into a circle then press it onto the pot with some water. Trim off any extra clay at the ends.
    5. Use a modelling tool to carve zigzags or other simple patterns into the side of the pot.
    6. Leave the pot to dry for 24 hours then carefully turn it over so the base faces up. Leave to dry for another 24 hours. Allow the pot to dry out naturally, if the dries too quickly near a radiator or in direct sunlight the clay can crack.
      When the clay has thoroughly dried, smooth any rough edges with fine sandpaper.
      Use small pieces of fresh clay to fill in holes or gaps and leave to dry.
    7. Paint the pot dark brown or black, leave to dry for a few minutes then rub over the surface with paper towel or a sponge to remove some of the surface paint. Fine sandpaper can also be used to rub the surface to remove paint and add texture the pot to make a stone effect. If you remove too much paint, apply some more to darken the pot.
      Brush the pot with a layer of varnish then leave it to dry.
    Snake Bowl Snake Bowl Snake Bowl

    Top Tip

    Support the head shapes on the sides as the clay dries using a marker pen, glue stick or anything placed underneath to hold them in position.