On October 7th, I hosted a clay class for kids at the Dedham Community House. The class was an hour long workshop designed to give kids, 1st through 5th grade, exposure to clay. They learn techniques and create a piece of pottery. There is always a literary or art component to my classes so kids can take away an educational piece as well as a hands on experience.
Having a theme is always fun and “Halloween” is a great one! There are pumpkins, candy, costumes – loads for the kids to be inspired by. The kids start with a ball of clay and learn the pinch technique to create a bowl. They notice how the thickness of the wall changes as they pinched and how to smooth the rim of the bowl to prevent cracking.
Once they had mastered the bowl, they were given two smaller balls of clay to once again pinch into a pot. They then use the scratch and slip technique to join the two balls into one. They smooth the exterior of their new hollow ball. I ask them to take take a toothpick and insert it into the ball to let a little air out and they then can experiment with modifying the shape. We stop for a minute to talk about pumpkins. We discover that they are made up of sections and they have rough stems. We talk about jack o lanterns and they begin to create their own by carving into their clay. Finally, they added a stem by rolling a coil, adding detail and attaching it using the scratch and slip technique.
We let the clay dry a little while we read the story of “Too Many Pumpkins”. Then the kids added a bit of color – orange for pumpkin and black for the stem. The clay is still workable so the kids go back and scratch away paint to create more texture in the stem.
After class, I took the beautiful (yet scary!) jack o lanterns home to my studio where they had ample time to dry.
I painted them with a clear glaze and they went into a kiln at Potters Place. Once finished, they were returned to the students.
I will be offering my next Clay Class for Kids on Monday, November 4th. The theme will be “Thanksgiving”. The class takes place at the Dedham Community House from 3:15-4:15pm. The deadline to sign up is Friday, November 1st.