Teen and Adult Ceramics Classes

Read more about Teen and Adult Ceramics

“Clay can be dirt in the wrong hands. But clay can be art in the right hands.” -Lupita Nyong’o.

Are you ready to get creative and messy? You should definitely register for a beginning level clay class. The ceramics courses for teens and adults are specially designed to introduce a beginner to the form, and take them through to advanced levels. We suggest taking a hand-building class first but that is entirely up to you. If you have a strong interest in learning how to throw on the potter’s wheel you should register for Wheel I. If you are interested in learning how to make more sculptural pieces, you should consider registering for hand-building. There are also classes which meet the needs of those with a background in clay, providing instruction on more advanced forms thrown on the wheel.

If you have never worked with clay before, again, we suggest starting out with one of our hand-building classes. These classes will build your skills in the foundational elements of clay, glazes, terminology and language, with the goal of experiencing greater success as you advance. Hand-building includes a wide range of building methods. Some of these include pinching, coiling, and slab building. These techniques offer the possibility to make everything from sculpture, including figurative and abstract forms to functional objects like bowls, cups, platters and tiles. Our hand-building classes are taught by Pam Daniels and Jess Parks. Both have years of experience

Of course, everyone is welcome to start with the wheel. Before taking the Level II wheel class, you must complete the Level 1, or have taken a previous wheel class. Young students who have already taken pottery clay classes should inquire about enrolling in upper level classes if interested. Wheel throwing involves using the potter’s wheel to make objects. This is the method that many functional potters use to make their work. It is the technique that most often comes to mind when one hears the word, “pottery.”
Why take a pottery class? In today’s technological world adults and teens tend to gravitate more toward stationary activities such as watching tv, checking Instagram, and playing video games. Humans need to be active to maintain physical and mental abilities. Working with clay has these benefits and more.

Manipulating clay helps you maintain hand and eye coordination as you pound, pat, and push the clay into shapes and objects. Clay helps develop and maintain the muscles in your fingers and hands. Working with clay can be a stress reliever. Through manipulating clay you can express your thoughts and ideas as you mold the clay to take on the form of your imagination. Skills that you develop when working with clay include imagination, perseverance, problem solving, teamwork, social interaction, and self-regulation.

Students will make functional pieces such as cups, bowls, wall pockets, etc. You will also have opportunities to make sculptural pieces as well. Students have the opportunity to choose one or two pieces which will be displayed in an end-of-semester exhibition. This event is usually the first Thursday in December for Fall classes or the second Thursday in May for the spring classes.

Class schedules and fees vary each semester. Please review the most current class catalog for specific detail and always feel free to call the McKinney Center to discuss what class is best suited for your child.

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 in order to be “fired” twice in a kiln before being ready for use. Due to the thickness of clay 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 work!

Here are a few more fun reasons to take a clay class!

1) Mud makes you mellow.
2) It’s a weekly mud bath for your skin.
3) You can make a new favorite coffee mug.
4) You meet new friends.
5) Exercise your creativity, because body & mind need to work together.
6) You have an excuse for the dirt under your fingernails.
7) Throw mud indoors and not get in trouble
8) Mud makes you happy. Believe us.
9) You have fun molding with your hands.
10) You can get away from the kids for the night.
11) It’s a reason to eat dinner out.
12) Surprise yourself with what you can accomplish!
13) Because the Pottery Teacher is easy on the eyes & nice to listen to.
14) Because You’re jealous of your kids’ muddy clothes.
15) Because you’re looking for something to do with your mom.
16) Pottery Alleviates anxiety.
17) Mud is a great way to cool down.
18) Be proud of something you made with your hands.
19) Gives you a reason to wear crummy clothes, but still go out and meet people.
20) Excellent reason to wear sweatpants.
21) And that ex-boyfriends oversized shirt with the sweet graphic.
22) You feel darn accomplished after.
23) To have a new hobby.
24) So you can laugh with like-minded people.
25) Because you want to. And you should do what you want sometimes.

Ceramic Mugs

In this two-day class you will create up to 5 personalized ceramic mugs. You will gain a complete knowledge of creating ceramic mugs on a pottery wheel and proper ways to attach handles. Students will also receive a basic understanding of the ceramic process and physical stages of clay. Each participant will have up to 5 completed functional ceramic mugs which will be great for gifts or personal use.

Pottery Basics – Daytime Class

This wheel throwing class is for older school aged children. Classes will focus on creating basic traditional pottery using the potter’s wheel. Over the six-week course participants will learn the basic forms thrown on the pottery wheel, cylinders, bowls and plates. Students will also learn pottery terms and the firing process.

The Potter’s Wheel Series – Level I

This beginning class is designed for those wishing to develop their skills on the potter’s wheel. Students will combine forms thrown on the wheel with other clay-forming techniques to create more complex pieces.

The Potter’s Wheel Series – Level II

Must have completed Level I or previous wheel experience. Students will combine forms thrown on the potter’s wheel with other clay forming techniques to create more complex pieces. Lidded vessels, closed forms, large platters, ring jugs, vase forms, and more will be explored.

Handbuilding with Clay – Earthen Art

Hand-building with pottery is another way of working with clay. The basic techniques are easier to learn and the range of forms you can produce is much broader. If you are interested in clay, but aren’t sure the wheel is for you, consider hand-building and begin creating wonderful functional pieces of artwork on your very first day. This class will give you the opportunity to create unique projects each week. Students will focus on the vocabulary of clay, slab construction, pinch pots, surface texture, clay impression and more. For students who are looking for a place to express their creativity, hand-building may be the experience for you.

Functional Pottery Series – Session I

In the first session of this pottery intensive class, students will learn the basics of creating bowls on a potter’s wheel. Class will cover basic bowl forms, trimming bowls, altering, and decorating techniques. Each class will include a demo from the instructor as well as guided wheel time.

Functional Pottery Series – Session II

In the second session of this pottery intensive course, students will learn the basics of creating mugs and cylinders on a potter’s wheel. Classes will include lessons on the basics of throwing cylinders, creating and attaching the handles, transforming cylinders into different forms, and decorating techniques. Each class will include a demo from the instructor as well as guided wheel time.

Functional Pottery Series – Session III

In the last session of this pottery intensive course, students will learn the basics of throwing plate forms and matching sets. As well, students will learn to combine other forms with plates to create serving trays and casserole dishes. Each class will include a demo from the instructor as well as a guided time on the wheel.

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The McKinney Center at Booker T. Washington School is a multi-use facility providing arts education through Jonesborough's Mary B. Martin Program.


Phone: 423.753.0562

103 Franklin Ave.
Jonesborough, TN 37659