Ceramic Turkey Bowls

I search for as many clay project ideas as I can. For some reason, I need the security of knowing that another art teacher has tried the lesson and was actually successful. This is one such lesson. Pulled from the pages of Arts and Activities magazine, Donia Lilly from VSA Arts of Nevada in Washoe County, invented these little guys. Thanks, Donia!


We started with a pinch pot from a generous size ball of clay. I used kiln-fired clay but air dry clay is fine as well.

Begin by making a pinch pot and then pull clay up from one end to create a tail. You really do need enough clay in order to “pull” the tail.

Pull some clay from the other end to make a small head. You can add clay here as well. Just make sure to attach well and use slip. Extra clay was needed to add a waddle and wings.

We painted with “colorburst” underglaze mix with regular underglaze. Turkeys were fired twice: once after the clay dried (10 days or so) and again once the glaze went on.

I think these little turkeys would be perfect for some nuts or candies. One student said that his turkey would be perfect as an egg holder. Cute, huh?

For more ceramic projects, check out my art booklet Easy Clay Projects.

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  • Joanne

    I am homeschooling three children…all of them love art and regularly do projects on their own. Do you know if their is a small kiln out there that would fire a few things at a time? I am looking for something that is not very expensive.

    • Patty

      Hmmm. I’ve never heard of one but that doesn’t mean there isn’t one out there. I assume you want it for yourself? If it’s for the kids, consider using air dry clay. Crayola brand is good.
      Hope this helps.

    • oriana

      check out jen ken kilns!

  • Cassie

    I tried this lesson last year after seeing it in Arts & Activities as well… they turned out pretty good, but I had my students stretch out the necks too far, so I had some breakage while transporting projects to/from the kiln.

    In an attempt to try something different, perhaps easier, I tried these turkeys with my second graders this year:


    • Patty

      I know what you mean about the necks! You need to keep them compact!

  • Wendy Wallace

    Hi Patty!
    I adore your site and have done two of your lessons with great success. (The Kandinsky circles and the color wheel fish.) Thank you!
    Now we’re doing clay turkeys. What is “colorburst” underglaze mix? Is it a product or a procedure? I looked on the Duncan site but couldn’t find anything called “colorburst”. What exactly do you recommend for underglazes? Also, is dipping glaze any different that regular clear glaze? Do you paint the bottom and stilt them?
    Thanks for your help,

    • Patty

      Hi Wendy,
      I’m releasing a PDF art booklet next week that details everything you need to know about ceramics. Check back then and it should be available to you.

  • alison

    These look so fun! Wish I had access to a kiln.

  • claire kropko

    Hi Patty,
    I am having the third graders make this cute turkey. I went to Aardark’s clay supply to purchase the colorburst underglaze. They had never heard of it. What brand is it?

  • Donia

    Wow Patty – I just came across this and am so happy to read that my project/article was fun and functional for you and your students! (and blog readers 🙂

    I think your blog is a great idea (and I’d be curious to know how successful it’s been for you (don’t worry – I have no interest in starting a competing blog 😉 ) You can email me if you’d like.

    Oh, and I looked on your profile and I went to (boarding) high school with a girl from Goleta… is it a big place? (I wouldn’t think so)
    ethyrical artist

    • Patty Palmer

      Hi Donia,
      Thanks for introducing yourself! My second graders loved that Turkey bowl! I’ve been living in Goleta for about 20 years. And you’re right, it’s not a big place. I’ve been blogging for 5 years and it certainly has evolved. I still teach 2 days a week but the blog is my main work. It’s a pretty big job considering I do 100% of the content, but it works for me. I love it. And yes, it has been a financially successful, although that was never my primary focus at first. It’s funny how things evolve organically when you do what you love.
      If you are ever in Goleta, shoot me an email. I’d love to meet you!

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