As Sydney Meier carefully began forming a bowl on the pottery wheel, she used a sponge to keep the project moist. Clay and water covered her hands and began trickling down her wrists.
“I’m making a bowl for my grandma,” the 11-year-old student said. “It’s fun — and difficult.”
Meier is one of numerous students spending several of their summer mornings in the ceramics classroom at Hays High School. The wheel-thrown pottery class is sponsored by Hays Arts Council and available for students between the ages of 11 and 14.
It’s a fun, hands-on opportunity for the students to experiment with pottery, which could help them develop an early interest in the art, said instructor Jennifer Younger. Younger made her way around the classroom, giving pointers and helping the students with projects.
“If you feel like it’s getting weak, then just slowly back away,” she told one student, who was aspiring to create a wide-rim clay bowl.
Hays Arts Council offers a variety of summer art classes for students of different ages. Additional classes will be offered next month. For a complete schedule, visit haysartscouncil.org.
The wheel-thrown pottery class is one of several that was filled to capacity. The students seem to really enjoy their ceramics experience, Younger said.
“It is a tough skill. These guys really come in and work hard,” she said. “For high schoolers, we work on it all year. We work on centering for two weeks, and these guys work on it for a day, and then we roll with it.
“It’s really nice to have a group of kids that are so eager to learn. They don’t quit.”
The week-long class will continue with the children finishing their projects with glaze and kiln firing.
Elena Herl, 13, enjoys the class so much she has taken it the last three summers.
“I’m definitely going to take ceramics in high school,” the young artist said.
The students are encouraged to make at least two projects during the course, but some make more. They start on the pottery wheel, then allow the projects to dry a bit in front of the fan before finishing the detail work.
Herl just had finished her third project. She also has experimented with coil pottery and keeps clay at home to practice. But wheel-thrown pottery is her favorite, she said.
“It’s really relaxing,” Herl said. “And I usually manage to stay pretty clean.”
If the high interest continues, organizers might consider breaking the class into two courses in the future — one for beginners and another for more advanced students, Younger said.
“The early exposure is definitely great; then they can decide if they want to try it in high school and beyond,” she said.