Photo of Shelly Sayler


General Artist Information

Name: Shelly Sayler
Artist Discipline: Visual Arts
Grade Level Preference: K-12
Geographic Availability: Within the state.
Fee per-day: Negotiable
Phone Number: 701-390-9174


 Shelly received her BFA from University of South Dakota with an emphasis on ceramics and painting and is currently a working ceramist residing Bismarck. She enjoys teaching clay hand building classes to adults and children and selling her artwork through a variety of venues. Shelly believes that creating with students through classes and communicating her art form to others during art shows has an exponential impact on her creativity and artistic skills.

Teaching Philosophy

I believe it is very important for the creator/artist to be honest with themselves throughout the creative process by avoiding the temptation to go with the mainstream and staying true to their own authentic self.  It’s important to approach unplanned or unexpected mistakes as an opportunity to problem solve, grow and create something totally new! The ability to reflect, revise and “fail-forward” is an on-going process that translates into daily life.

Sample Residency Information

Residency Title: Build this City!

Grade Level: For students Grades 4-8

Number of Sessions: 5, 50-minutes sessions


Through the collaborative process, students will plan, design and create a city of ceramic structures. Each student will contribute individually to the city by designing, planning and creating one structure; a store, bank, post office, library, etc.  From drawing plans to learning the basics of clay, glazing and firing, students and teachers will experience the creative clay process from beginning to end. This project will spark pride in students, teachers and their community, improve communication and SEL skills and allow an opportunity to practice safety in the classroom studio.

Short Lesson Plan

Day One - Brainstorm as a group, students come up with a list of buildings. What type of building and activities do we need in our city to function? Each student will be assigned one building to research and sketch. Using the drawing as reference, students will make templates, labeling as they go.

Day Two – Through demonstration, students will learn how to throw slabs (without tools). Students will create a hill base which will be the foundation for their structure. All slabs and hill will be wrapped for the next day.

Day Three - Once the base hill and slabs are leather hard, students will use their templates and cut out the walls and roof for their structure. A demonstration of slipping and scoring clay will be given. The students will carefully slip and score their walls and roof and join them together. Each structure will be wrapped and kept semi-moist for the following day.

Day Four - Adding Details - Using pinching, coils, texture, sgraffito, and other techniques, the students will add details to their buildings. Students will refer to their initial research of the buildings for these extra details, which will bring their structure and town to life.

Day Five - As the pieces dry out, students will pick out different underglaze colors to decorate their buildings.

Bisque Fire – Once completely dry, the structures will be fired and returned to students, ready to be set up in the classroom or outside for pictures! Students can share their buildings and what they learned with their peers as part of the experience.