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Rockwell Paper Scissors: Symmetrical Pots

The Pueblo Native American community has a long tradition of creating ceramic (clay) pots. Ceramic pots might be used to store water, food, and other everyday items. However, pots are also made as unique objects for display. Their purpose is to be beautiful!

The Pueblo pottery from The Rockwell Museum collection are examples of how artists combined geometric shapes and lines to create intricate, symmetrical patterns.

There are different types of symmetry. Read below for definitions, and then see how many different types of symmetry you can find in the images below!

Left: Unknown Acoma Pueblo Artist, Jar, circa 1890, 10 ¾ x 11 ½ dia. in. Gift of Charlotte Knight Carrasco in Memory of Charlotte A. and Albert Peter Knight. 97.14.3 F; Center: Unknown Acoma Pueblo Artist, Jar, circa 1920, Polychrome ceramic, 8 ½ x 10 ½ dia. in. Gift of Dwight P. and Lorri Lanmon. 86.29 F; Right: Unknown Acoma Pueblo Artist, Jar, circa 1925, 8 ¼ x 11 dia. in. Museum Purchase. 90.3 F



Reflection is when one half of the image is the mirror image of the other half. You could fold the image and both halves would match exactly.



Translation is when an image is repeated. The repeated image could be moving in a specific direction with even spacing, or it could be grouped together.


Radial symmetry is when the shapes and lines are arranged around a central point. A starburst often features radial symmetry!



  • Scissors
  • Pencil
  • Cardstock
  • Tempera paint in colors that will show up on your cardstock
  • Stamps* (see below for instructions to make homemade stamps out of sponges)

*For this project, you will need some stamps to decorate your pot. You can buy stamps in many different shapes and sizes, or you can make your own out of materials you have at home. Some options include using the end of a paper towel roll as a circle stamp or cutting different shapes out of kitchen sponges. Fresh kitchen sponges that are damp but not dripping work best. Have an adult help you draw your shape on the sponge with a permanent marker. Try making a square, a triangle, and a circle! Cut around your outline with a pair of scissors to make the stamp.

To make your pot:

  1. Print out the pot template on regular paper. It might look funny but don’t worry, it’s only supposed to be half of a pot! Pot template >>
  2. Cut out the half-pot shape. Be careful to cut right along the edge.
  3. Fold your cardstock in half “hot dog” (long) ways.
  4. Place the pot template on the folded paper, so that the long edge of the pot matches up with the fold of the paper.
  5. Trace around the template with a pencil, and then cut along your line.
  6. Open your paper to show your symmetrical pot!
  7. Now it’s time to decorate your pot. Choose one or two stamps to use.
  8. Dab your stamp in some paint—a little goes a long way.
  9. Stamp your design on one side of the pot. Only make marks on one side of the fold!
  10. When you are done stamping, fold your pot in half again. Press all over the outside of the pot.
  11. Open it back up, and see your design reflected on both sides of the pot! Your design is symmetrical. What type or types of symmetry do you see in your design?