As a “gig” worker, my summers were jam packed with lots of different classes and workshops where I’ve taught art and clay to students of all ages. Covid changed that for me and so many other instructors. Last summer I chose to teach virtually. It worked well. I learned to adapt. Thinking about summer 2021, I decided to return to in-person teaching. I took one full time job for 8 weeks teaching summer clay to campers grades 1-9. I didn’t make as much money as I could have teaching multiple shorter workshops, but it felt safer for me and safer for my young students, the majority of whom were too young to be vaccinated.
Interacting with new people, making friends, hearing the laughter of children and watching them create was joyful. I became part of a bigger community whose job was to provide a wonderful enriching summer for children in a time when that need could not have been greater. I think we succeeded as I look back on the amazing pottery the kids created…
Who says you can’t learn about the amazing world of ceramics virtually? I’ve just finished up a week of teaching pottery in a virtual camp to young students. We’ve had some clay projects and some 2 and 3D paper projects to explore ceramics and how they teach us about different cultures. The above screenshot of middle school students’ artwork shows the beautiful designs they came up with as they imagined themselves creating tiles in Florence, Italy during the Italian Renaissance period. Using the medium of their choice on paper, they emulated decorating a tin based white slip covered earthenware tile to learn about majolica. They also learned how trade from Spain brought the process to the country and the way it functioned in society.
Teaching teens pottery is a different experience from teaching elementary aged students even though there may be only a small age difference. Teens in middle and high school have had many more life experiences. They have acquired more creative tools. Their work has time to develop with a daily interaction with clay. Here is a look at what they created in our week long class this summer.
Teens explored building castles using coils and slabs. From left to right: clay is used to create buildings; castles are glazed in bright colors; artwork is finished with a glaze firing in the pottery kiln. Below are a few more finished pieces.
Once the students were familiar with architecture, they started their second project: architectural tiles.
The results were very unique and exciting to see. Starting with a clay slab, the students used their imagination to take the next steps. They then moved on to glazing and the tiles were fired.
For the final project, the students created a functional piece. They began with a flat two-dimensional slab of clay and turned it into a three dimensional mug. The theme was animals but some decided to move away from topic and create an original piece.
It’s always a great experience to teach clay for Newton Community Education! Check out my poston what the elementary aged students created during their weeks of summer pottery class.