The making of a clay candle holder or a special shelter for Spikes the pet lizard is meticulous work — particularly when you're using a slab pottery technique. The process starts with the patting and rolling of a gray glob of stoneware clay, a material with some give to it for those who are new to the craft. They create art with typical potters' tools: cutting knives, paint brushes, water, white vinegar and an ordinary kitchen rolling pin.
The slab technique is just the latest lesson for three youngsters enrolled in a Wednesday morning pottery class for homeschooled children at the Pasco Art Center in Holiday. Each week they spend a couple of hours working quietly in a basement studio learning how to make things like pinch pot vases and coil pots under the watchful eye of instructor Christa Stanelun. A class on glazing and another on polymer clay is yet to come, said Stanelun, who got her first taste of clay back in 1976 when she was taking her own children to recreational summer classes in Attleboro, Mass.
"I was just sitting around waiting around for them to finish, so I decided I'd take a class, too," she said.
Now, all these years later she's teaching.
Last week's class at the art center came with choices. So while Victoria Jenkins, 14, and Cassie Sanchez, 12, set their sights on creating candle holders, Zachary Babcock, 12, decided to make a slab house for his pet lizard and a dinner platter for his mom with the leftover stock.
"I actually am liking it because I like all the artsy kind of stuff," said Victoria, noting that the candle holder she carefully crafted with snowflakes and Christmas tree cutouts would make a fine holiday gift for a certain loved one.
"I think I'm going to make this one extra special," she said with a smile.