And now we’re on the final installment of our Camp Focuses series: Pottery Camp (check out our most recent post: “What is Drawing Camp?” for the others in the series). Our Friday Pottery Camps are different from our other camps in three main ways:
- They’re only one day long, whereas our other camps are four days long.
- They’re a full day of camp (9am-4pm), whereas our other camps are half-day camps (either 9am-noon, or 1pm-4pm).
- They're always on Fridays.
Why? Short answer is: we’re working with low-fire ceramic clay and that material lends itself better to a full, one-day camp, as opposed to smaller periods of time spread out over a week.
Our Friday pottery camps are a fun way for campers to get their hands dirty, explore all things ceramics, and get personal with low-fire clay!
In ceramics, hand building refers to a piece made by hand, without the use of a pottery wheel. Each week campers create a new project that focuses on one of the essential hand building techniques: coils, slabs, or pinch pots. Each technique has it’s own specific structure and function, and each technique can have a TON of variations, while still practicing the same skills.
Slabs, or long flat rolled pieces of clay, have many applications. In many cases, slabs can be used as walls for constructing some sort of vessel, or can be used as the base for a tile or relief. In our previous camps, we’ve used slabs to create mini-house sculptures, slab boxes, as well as adorable tiles - from under the sea theme to Picasso.
Pinch Pots are small vessels created by rolling a ball of clay, and then using the thumb to make an indent in the center. An artist then uses their fingers in a pinching motion to slowly open the center of what is to be the bowl. Pinch pots can be used as an actual vessel, but are also great for constructing a sculpture that has spherical elements. We often use pinch pots as the basis for our animal sculptures, such as for a body or head.
One of the most important concepts that campers learn with hand building is the importance of craftsmanship.
To ensure that pieces remain fully intact through firing, campers must be sure to follow all of the rules of hand building. This means building pieces that are well thought out, avoid components that are extremely delicate, and correctly use the very important attaching technique of scoring and slipping.
Students even have to think about airflow through their pieces, and avoid accidentally trapping pockets of air inside, or their creation could explode in the kiln!
During camp, campers regularly follow the guidance of their instructors as well as use creative problem-solving skills to create a successful final product.
The pottery wheel is a machine that is used to shape a vessel. During pottery camp, campers work one-on-one with an instructor to create their very own pottery wheel vessel.
Creating on the wheel is a fun and messy process, and campers learn how to utilize their hand-eye coordination and their muscle control to manipulate the spinning clay that results in specific shapes depending on how you hold your hands and interact with the clay.
Once students create their vessel on the wheel, campers have a second wheel experience where they’re able to trim the excess clay off the bottom of their sculpture, a vital step in creating pottery, allowing a clean-finished piece.
One of the benefits of attending multiple pottery camps is that campers become more familiar with the processes. Like any kind of skills, the ones campers learn on the pottery wheel and while hand building take practice to get better and to be able to create more intricate and advanced works.
Multiple experiences on the pottery wheel allow campers to have better control on the wheel and make more complex vessels. Familiarity with multiple hand-building processes also allows students to combine more than one process into a single project.
We often have campers who sign up for pottery camp after pottery camp because they love it so much and look forward to continuing the development of their skills.
Our pottery camps are very popular, and typically fill up very quickly. If you’re still hoping to get your child into one of these camps this year, we’d suggest enrolling them as soon as possible – check out our schedule and sign up for a camp here. We'd love to have them!