The pandemic has changed many things for all of us. It was a frightening time but also it gave me a chance to step back, reflect and try different things. I started making my own work again as I could not do any children’s classes. This new business of mine is doing very well I am pleased to announce. This does however have a knock-on effect for clay kids as I no longer have the time, or the space to operate these classes anymore.
If you would like to know more, you can follow me on @samclaypots on instagram or pop over to my website at www.clay-pots.co.uk
Thank you all for your support over the last five years of clay kids, it was such a joy to meet so many creative and happy children!
I have taken the decision to suspend all classes for the moment due to the Covid-19 virus. This was not an easy decision to make, but I felt with the rules changing frenquently it was quite challenging to keep up. Also, having done a risk assesment, it would have altered the nature of the classes to such an extent, that they could not run in the relaxed and fun way that it has always been. Clay-Kids will however be back with lots of new ideas and exciting projects in the near future. Follow @clay_kids on instagram to keep updated on any workshops I may host or when classes are set to re-open.
This February Half Term Clay-Kids will be hosting a two-hour pottery workshop. The children will be guided through basic sculpting techniques to create their very own garden gnome as well as a miniature pottery garden.
The workshops are for children aged 6-12 years old and are drop off, but parents are very welcome to stay and join in. Each session will have a maximum of 8 children and the cost is £20 per child which includes a snack and a drink.
will take place on Monday the 17th of February from 10am-12pm.
Having recently started teaching adult pottery workshops, it has come to my attention that there are many people out there who are very keen to do one, but are reluctant as they feel they are not creative or arty enough. I find it sad that so many adults carry such negativity, “I’m rubbish at maths, I’m not athletic, I’m awful at cooking……”. Our kids pick up on this negativity and so we pass this on. We don’t want to hear our kids saying these things so why do we say them? Ideally, we would like our children to try many things, and so should we. Sure, as adults we already know where our strengths and weaknesses lie, but you don’t get good at something overnight especially if you’ve never tried it before so we have to try, try and try again and if our kids see us try something we feel uncomfortable with, they will be empowered to follow suit and you never know what you may discover on that journey. All you need is a willingness.
Which brings me back to the pottery classes. Each three-week pottery workshop concentrates on a different pottery technique – all hand building. In the first week I guide the students through a technique by creating a project together. I will then give inspiration and ideas of how to personalise that project. By the end of the first lesson the student has learnt a new skill set and created a unique piece of pottery. When they return the following week, I will provide guidance as to what can be made next using the skills they have learnt the previous week. It is then up to the student to make something appropriate to them – perhaps they want to make a gift for someone or something unique for their own homes. There is no need to invest in any pottery tools either as everything you need is in the studio for your use, including an apron – there’s even tea and coffee!
Week three is all about the painting. Everything that’s been made will have been fired, so ‘cooked’ in the kiln to 1000 degrees Celsius which means it’s a little more robust and snowy white – a blank canvas on which to make your mark. I don’t have many glazes in the studio as it’s a small space so instead I provide a variety of colours to paint, sponge or splatter with, much like a ceramic painting shop and, once its painted, a clear glaze is applied before I fire it again. Once its been fired for a second time, you’re welcome to come and collect your unique and very personal creations.
Creations from the January adult workshop
One other thing worth mentioning is the environment. It’s a small studio, so a maximum of 6 students can be accommodated at any one time which creates a warm and friendly atmosphere. You will find a lovely bunch of people gathered around a table, beavering away and lots of chatter. My students always leave happier and calmer than when they arrived, having enjoyed a couple of hours of ‘me-time’ which I think is fair to say, we all deserve a little of.
I run two adult workshops a week, one being a Monday daytime and the other an evening class on a Wednesday. Times, dates and prices can all be found on the website, just e-mail me to book or ask any questions you may have. I do hope that’s helped to visualise what my workshops are all about.
The pride children experience when they see a completed clay project is fantastic – they have accomplished something unique! Pottery classes can improve self-esteem because it’s easy to create something amazing, and creating that amazing thing fills us with a great sense of achievement.
Perfection is not a goal in our pottery classes – its all about creation. Clay is easy to handle and very forgiving – a mistake can easily be rubbed off, smoothed over or taken off – while we’re working on wet clay nothing is permanent. Clay also allows a child to learn to repair mistakes and therefore not be afraid to make them. Making mistakes is essential for self improvement but can be difficult or even an obstacle for some children. The forgiving quality of clay and the ability to fix mistakes gives a child a sense of control over their projects and self esteem grows as they realise they can create something they have imagined.
A brilliant example of this is when we were decorating the clay boxes we’d made. One of my students realised he’d not left enough space on the box sides to do what he had intended so he quickly came up with a solution using the lid that was unique and clever – he felt very proud of what he’d done.
All art forms are important for children to experience, yet it does seem that the functional and durable nature of a child’s finished piece adds special value – it’s not just something to be admired but rather it’s something special to be used every day.
That first pinch pot your child brings home from a pottery class is more than just a lump of clay. It is a symbol of many accomplishments ranging from sensory development and motor skills to self esteem and expression, problem solving, discipline and pride. Clay has a uniquely therapeutic quality that settles and calms children. In the next few few weeks I’ll be exploring each of these points in a series of blogs to begin I want to discuss sensory development and motor skills.
The moment when a child touches clay for the first time is a joy to watch! Clay is an extremely tactile material that demands to be touched and it is with uninhibited enthusiasm a child experiences that texture and feel of the clay for the first time. It is prodded, poked and squeezed and all the while exclaiming its virtues of cold, sticky and wet and for many, surprisingly heavy! Clay asks to be poked, pinched, twisted and rolled and as they handle it, children develop both fine and major motor skills and realise they have an effect on the clay as it responds to their manipulation.
For many, its perhaps the first time they’ve been encouraged to get wet and dirty in a classroom and so there is an instinctive and uplifting response to the freedom they feel. Even when the product is finished and ready to take home, the children cradle their work, smoothing their fingers over the colourful, glazed surface.
The sensory experiences they encounter in the pottery are numerous as they get to explore various ways of working with clay and their motor skills are developed by giving them a chance to engage their hand and arm muscles – hands are powerful tools which they will learn to develop. Another benefit tied to motor skills is that working with clay can improve penmanship. The hand-eye co-ordination skills young children pick up in pottery class can transfer to their schoolwork with more legible writing.
Of course as they progress and complete projects, they gain a sense of accomplishment which can improve self esteem, which I’ll discuss in more depth next time!