Dave Days in ELA

Dave Days in ELA
Posted on 03/12/2020
Mrs. O’Neal instructs eighth-grader Raymond Henry in techniques for forming his clay pot’s rim while Will Clark shapes his own.

Photo Caption: Mrs. O’Neal instructs eighth-grader Raymond Henry in techniques for forming his clay pot’s rim while Will Clark shapes his own.

During the last week of February,
Mrs. Laurie Prince and Mrs. Susie O’Neal’s eighth-grade English language arts class at Johnston-Edgefield-Trenton Middle School honored the memory of renowned Edgefield potter Dave Drake by forming clay pots and inscribing them with poetry of their own. Drake’s pottery was unusual for its time during the 1800s because slaves were not typically allowed to learn to read and write, and some of his work boasts simple, yet meaningful rhymed couplets, which served as models for the students’ work.

On the first day of the project, students learned about Dave the Potter and his style of poetry and wrote five couplets for practice. Each selected his best example to etch onto his own creation.

Using materials provided by The Ridge Clay Arts Studio in Johnston, students mashed and molded clay into small pots of their own designs, smoothed the edges with water and stiff cards, and inscribed their rhymes using dull pencils. Mrs. O’Neal then gathered their vessels to take to the studio to bake and glaze them to preserve the verses in a tangible form.

Some simple couplets for inscription included the following:

                        “A diamond may sparkle in the light,

                        But my love for you will shine forever bright.”

                                                                                     ~Elijah McBride

                        “My heart was filled with trust

                        Until your lies turned it to rust.”

                                                         ~Cheiftin Spicer

                        “Swoosh! Bang! Pop! went the thunder,

                        But nothing could wake me from my slumber.”

                                                                                    ~Daniel O’Sullivan

                        “On a cold, wintry day,

                         I sat and molded clay.”

                                                ~Chase Thomas


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