Camp Focus: What is Pottery Camp?
This year, we’ve been talking about each of our summer camps in a way we never have online before: we’re giving you the low-down on all of our camps and what goes on in them in our Camp Focuses blog series.
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:
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!
During pottery camp, students create two projects to practice different skills: a hand-building project and a pottery wheel project.
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.
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.
Of course, the most popular aspect of pottery camp is the pottery wheel!
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 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!
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