How To: Ceramics
By Alyssa Lyons
Since sophomore year, students are allowed to take ceramics class as an extracurricular activity. Ceramics offers an outlet to stress and promotes creativity. This week I spent a week to thoroughly enjoy ceramics class offered at Seton High School.
Each week Mrs. Vanover (Mrs. V), ceramics teacher, provides a demonstration for each new project. The demonstration is provided by information of the culture through PowerPoint’s and past examples. With this information, students are able to create their own spin on this project. This week’s project was Native American Masks. However, since I was a beginner, I took to creating a cup.
On average, it takes a class a week to about two weeks to create a project; I had to create mine within three days. To create a cup, students can start with the basic pinch pot or slab and coil pots. For the cup I was designing, it seemed fit to create a slab pot. The base of the cup was a rolled out slab cut out around a circle. The next step was to create the walls, rolling another slab-not to thick- and at least four inches high. After rolling out the slab, I cut out walls that would fit around in a circle equally. Next was to attach the walls to the base. When attaching anything in ceramics, students have to complete the three S’s: score, slip, and smudge. I had to score, cutting little slits in the clay, on one side of the base and the walls. Slip is a watered down clay substance that you then rub over the parts that are scored, slip is the bonding agent of the two pieces. Lastly, you stick the pieces together and smooth (smudge) out the connecting parts to look like one.
With any project, students add a personal touch. To make this project fully mine, I added an A to represent my name. After the project is finished, students stick their work in the cubby to dry out the clay to be ready to be fired in the kiln. Depending what stage the clay is in depends on the degree of the kiln, some reach to 2,000 degrees. After the pot has been in the kiln a student glazes their pot, and then once again is put back into the kiln.
Ceramics is a class that teaches patience, a project will not turn out well if you rush. Vanover teaches her students to, “Take their time.” As an extracurricular, ceramics class offers the ability to work with friends and create pieces that define personality.