of Art: Platter
Frame: Three Classes (45 minute periods each)
students will be able to:
and skills. Complete TEKS for
6th grade art.
2. Creative expression/performance: c.
3. Historical cultural heritage: b
(This activity requires the use of computers.)
the Work of Art
conventions were often combined with motifs and surface
decoration of European, Chinese, and even native Mexican
origins to create a distinctive Puebla style.
This seventeenth century platter was used in everyday
life for food as well as decoration.
Technique or Process
The shape of this platter is derived from Baroque
silverware. The lavish use of cobalt blue on this
platter is extraordinary considering its value at
the time. There are no known sources for cobalt
in or near Mexico. Puebla workshops probably purchased
cobalt imported from Spain, where it had been sent
from the Middle East or North Africa in cake form.4
It is also possible that it was imported from China.
Among the Hispano-Muslim decorative conventions
that have influenced Puebla potters during the seventeenth
century, the horror vacui (fear of empty spaces)
was perhaps the most important. The affinity for
decorating the entire surface of a vessel with small
dots is typical of this aesthetic. In the 1682 amendment
to the 1653 issuance of the potteršs ordinances,
the first clause specifies the use of aborronado
(blurred dot) decoration in blue, which is visible
in this platter.
Link to image on exhibition web site -
Have students view an image of the platter.
- What do you notice about this platter?
- Is this a typical shape for a platter?
What colors and patterns
are in the design of platter?
Discuss horror vacui (fear of empty spaces) and how
this piece illustrates this.
- Do you notice any area of the platter without
What is the purpose
of covering the entire surface with small dots?
Discuss how the decorations are from several different
types of objects can you see on the platter?
culture is the blue and white ceramic associated
Students will start with a ball of clay. They will
push their thumbs into the center and begin to pinch
up the walls, turning the ball as they go to keep
the sides an even thickness. Finish by patting the
bottom on a hard surface to flatten it.
the clay pot is completely dry it can be fired. Students
can paint on it with watercolors.
the students pick one color to paint with on their
should be no empty spaces on their pot (a la horror
vacui). They should use different patterns all over
Each clay pot should be of even thickness, painted with
one color and have no empty space. See
Social studies: Where the different motifs originated
Science: Location of cobalt and how it might have
made its way to Mexico