Wax Resist Greek Vase

Mine Finished

Yay!  FINALLY, another post!  Sorry for the long hiatus, we’ve been going through some changes here at the Swan’s Nest, including a move, but hopefully things will begin to settle down again now.

My boys and I have been enjoying our study of Ancient Greece, so I thought it would be fun for us to design and paint our own Greek vases.  I think the boys are really more into the fighting and myths than the pottery, but I love Greek pottery.  I hope you’ll give this project a try and send me a photo of your finished piece for my student gallery (please)!

To start with, you need: a black crayon, a set of watercolor paints or pencils (and scratch card stock if using pencils), a watercolor brush, a cup of water, painter’s or masking tape, and an outline drawing of a Greek Vase printed or drawn on heavy card stock.  You can find many, many photos of Greek pottery to draw or trace on the internet, or you are welcome to download and print my outline vase here:Greek Amphora.  Just be careful if you are using an ink jet printer.  I had forgotten that the ink from my printer is water soluble until my oldest son’s began to “bleed” while he was painting.  You’ll see pictures of it in a bit.  If you do print yours using an ink jet printer, I recommend going over all of the lines with black crayon to “seal” them.  If you decide to trace or draw your vase outline, make sure you use a waterproof pen such as a fine tipped sharpie (or just use your black crayon).

Free Outline Drawing

Ready, here we go!

My Design

First, use your black crayon to draw a pretty design on your vase.  I couldn’t help but think of one of my favorite former students, who LOVED drawing horses, when I was drawing my design. (If you’re reading this, you know who you are!)  I could have used her help!  I drew inspiration from photos of Greek vases that I found online, but my kids actually designed their own “models” on this super cool web site: http://greece.mrdonn.org/vases.html, and printed them out to look at.


Little Swan’s Vase

Josh Inspiration

Big Swan’s Vase

As you can see, you don’t have to make your design look just like the “model”. ;0)  Once your design is drawn, I recommend taping the edges of your paper down with painter’s tape (or masking tape) to minimize buckling.

For the painting part, you can use either watercolor pencils or regular watercolor paints.  I’m going to show you both, but we found that the regular watercolor paints actually worked better than the pencils.

We started out with pencils though, because I was hoping the “red-orange” would be a good color to use.


Basically, if you’re using watercolor pencils, you’ll want to make a “palette” on your scratch card stock by darkly coloring in a “splotch”.  Then you can wet your brush and pick up color from the splotch to paint with.  You’ll probably need to draw several splotches, because they don’t go very far.

Now, I like to wet an area with plain water before I paint it (wet on wet technique).


I just apply plain water to a small area and then come back with paint while the area is still wet.


Unfortunately, wetting the paper first caused the ink to bleed on the boys’ vases, and the paint from the watercolor pencil wasn’t saturated enough for them. :0(

Josh Painting

Big Swan painting

The effect isn’t all bad, but it wasn’t what we were hoping for, so Little Swan decided to nix the watercolor pencil (and plain water) and try the watercolor paints with no pre-wetting (“wet on dry” technique).


Little Swan Painting

I wasn’t entirely happy with mine either (such is art).  The red-orange was really not very orange at all, so I decided to add a little orange from Little Swan’s watercolor set, which helped a lot.

Adding Orange

Also, although I didn’t have as much bleeding as the boys, a few of my black lines did wash out.  If this happens to you, wait until the paper is dry, then go over the faded lines with your black crayon.

Touching Up Black

And Voila!  Greek Vases!

Three Finished 2

I hope you have fun making Greek Vases!  Please send me a photo of yours, along with your first name and state/country, for my student gallery if you do.  You can email it to me at theswansnestart@gmail.com. Thanks for stopping by! 🙂


5 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Wendi
    Jan 24, 2013 @ 14:05:15

    So neat. We will try this! Thanks Sandy.


  2. ivoryspring
    Jan 25, 2013 @ 00:28:06

    Very nice, Sandy! I think your boys are quite artistic themselves.


  3. Trackback: Wax Resist Greek Vase | Teachers Web Resources

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