West Noble Primary is slowly becoming a community of clay artists.
Okay, maybe not, but we have finished our first Clay Camp! I came up with the idea a few months ago to offer an introductory clay class for interested staff members. There was plenty of interest so I started to put together a schedule, type out a “curriculum” and gather materials.
Though the class was far from advanced, there was a lot of nice work. For a small fee I gave each participant 5 pounds of clay and the use of my slab roller and other tools. They could make whatever they wanted. I think almost everyone had a good time. Some said that they would do it again. A few noticed that I could have charged a higher fee. But it was my first attempt so I wanted to have a small introductory price to encourage participation and see if it is a feasible thing to continue.
We met 7 times in a little over two weeks to make as much out of the clay as we could. I gave some brief demonstrations of hand building techniques during the first few classes and showed them some of the tools and equipment. I answered a lot of questions and offered as much help as I could, especially during the first few meetings.
During Thanksgiving weekend I fired two bisque loads including my own pots that I had made at home. Then we met 3 times the next week to glaze everything. I fired one glaze load already and the kiln is currently firing as I’m typing this to finish all the projects from the class.
As soon as everything is cool I’ll try to get some photos.
Why a Clay Class?
There were a few reasons that I put this plan into action.
- I wanted to share something I’m passionate about with others.
- I knew there are a lot of creative people at WNP.
- It’s nice to work with others instead of in isolation all the time.
- I wanted to see if I could pull off an entire class on my own. For future reference.
- I wanted to see what hidden costs, or time commitments were involved.
What I’ve Learned
All students are different. Of course, I already knew this but it was a good reminder. I think some of the participants would have benefited from a “step by step, follow along and make this project with me” approach. Others though, arrived at the first class full of ideas, research and their own tools and stamps. In future classes maybe I’ll try to pick a couple projects that we could do together for those that need the structure.
Scheduling is tough. We met after school but certain people could only come on certain days of the week. And I could only let them work until about 5:00 so I could get packed up, drive all the way home and still get to see my family for a little while. It worked okay but it would have been nice to have larger chunks of time to work on projects. Maybe next time a Saturday can be worked into the schedule?
It was a lot of work. I knew it was going to be… but now I have a good idea exactly how much work so I can better plan for next time. I actually enjoyed working on the handouts. I like the challenge of taking information and presenting it in an easy to understand format. The biggest chunk of preparation time was gathering materials, packing them up, hauling them to school, unpacking them and setting them up. Then packing them up and unpacking them for each class. I suppose if I had a dedicated space of my own it would solve a lot of those problems. Or if we had fewer but longer meeting times the work time to cleanup time ratio would be a lot better. The part I’m still recovering from though, is the aftermath in my home studio. I’m still getting everything put back where it was. But part of the reason is because I made a big mess during the Christmas rush so I’m cleaning AND organizing… slowly but surely.
We didn’t need the kitchen sink. I took way more tools, ideas and glazes than we actually needed. Next time I could focus on just a few tools and a handful of glazes and I think everyone would have just as much fun, if not more. Things I wish I would have had more of: good scoring tools, boards, gallon buckets, and time!
More teaching and less working. I knew this was going to happen as well. I got to make a few things and experiment with some textures but not nearly as much as I would have liked. But that’s okay because I was helping everyone else and there were some great projects.
As promised, here are some of the finished projects: