Clay Play for Toddlers
This beginner class for children grades 4th -6th, offers a basic introduction in clay construction including hand-building, extruded work, slab building, pottery wheel, and a basic introduction to the process of working with clay that generations of potters have used in this region. Students will create several unique pieces using the various techniques taught in this course. There will also be discussions about their finished projects as well as studies on historical pieces, allowing students to talk about their own process of bringing their ideas into being. Students will have 4-6 exciting projects to take home for use or as gifts.
If your child has not taken a class at the McKinney Center, we do encourage you to consider the Creative Construction class as a first step. Creative Constructions is not necessarily a pre-requisite for the clay classes but the mobility skills, development of dexterity, coordination and hand strength that is developed in Creative Construction, along with the drawing, painting, and sculpture techniques taught can help greatly when working with clay.
Instructor Kara Bledsoe is an experienced clay instructor with her Bachelor of Fine Arts with a concentration in ceramics at East Tennessee State University. She spent several years teaching after-school programs through Johnson City Arts Corps. She has taught at the McKinney Center for several years and loves working with our elementary students. When you see Kara at the McKinney Center you may also see her lovely daughter Rose.
Kara will help students create 5 – 8 projects over the 6 sessions in this course that truly taps into students’ creative and cognitive abilities. This class size is small with no more than 8 students. They are given a good deal of one on one instruction in order to complete their projects successfully. These projects may be name trays, cups, bowls, sculptures such as kittens, dogs, and unicorns, dragons, and decorative items. Please remember that the aesthetic of the end product is not as important as the process. As they squish, pinch, roll, pull, and shape not only will their faces be priceless, but the dexterity, strength, and coordination that they are developing is essential to future success. This is probably your child’s first clay class. Their mugs will not be perfect and may not be usable but the things they will learn in this class will stay with them forever! As an instructor, Kara provides nurturing and positive energy within the class to help keep her students motivated. She is also there to help them overcome obstacles that they may encounter while creating.
At the end of the six-week session your child will choose one or two pieces to place in the student art show. This is an opportunity for us to celebrate your child’s dedication and hard work during the class. It is also a time to showcase their masterpiece to their family and friends. If you and your child love this class, we encourage you to consider taking another session of Young Potters since projects change each semester. Depending on the student’s age, Creative Construction may be a good option as well. Depending on the skills acquired in Young Potters and maturity the instructor may also recommend the Potters Wheel I class. The McKinney Center typically offers a summer pottery camp as well held during the month of June.
The registration fee includes the instructor pay, use of approximately 25 pounds of clay, use of glazes, use of tools, and two kiln firings. Clay has to be dry and be “fired” twice in a kiln before being ready for use. Due to the thickness of clay (and children’s projects tend to be rather thick) it can take several days or weeks for a piece to dry completely. It is important that pieces dry before being placed in the kiln. If moisture is still in the walls of the clay or if the clay has significant bubbles they can explode. After drying, the pieces are placed in the kiln for their first firing which is called a “bisque” firing. This is a two-day process due to the kiln needing to time to heat up, reach its full temperature for a certain period of time, and then it cools down.
After the cool down process, the pieces are unloaded and then glazed. After the glazing is complete the clay pieces are loaded again in the kiln and fired to over 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit. This process can take as long as three days due to the temperature max of the kiln. After the kiln cools and is unloaded you will be called to come and pick up your child’s work!
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ABOUT THE MCKINNEY CENTER
The McKinney Center at Booker T. Washington School is a multi-use facility providing arts education through Jonesborough's Mary B. Martin Program.