BY SHERI TRUSTY
It took over a year of effort and a generous donation, but pottery classes have finally arrived at The Arts Garage (TAG). Pottery artists Jeanette Oleksa, Maggie Breckford and Valerie Crow are resident TAG artists who are offering pinch pot, coil and slab pottery classes through April. On March 4, they taught their first class.
“We worked for a year and a half to get these three teachers together,” said Jonnie Myers of TAG. “They paid for all the supplies today.”
Instrumental to TAG’s pottery project was the donation of a kiln by Marty Folger, a Vice President/Commercial Loan Officer for Croghan Colonial Bank. Once TAG had instructors to teach and a kiln to fire, the pottery classes took off. A full list of classes can be found at www.gpcaac.org/classes.
“We’re teaching a pinch pot class today. It’s an introduction to clay,” Breckford said. “It’s all handwork. The wheel is a totally different animal.”
Class attendees were taught basic pinch pot technique and then encouraged to make whatever flowed from mind and fingers. Some women sculpted their clay into the shape of flowers and others of fish. As bits of brown-colored clay dotted their hands and clothes, they made bowls, covered containers and candleholders. Their creations were later put through a two-step, multi-hour firing in the kiln.
“The first is a bisque fire. It solidifies the clay but doesn’t make it waterproof,” Breckford said. “Then they’ll put the glaze on, and we’ll fire it again. The glaze becomes like a glass coating. After the second firing, they become vitrified. They are impervious to water and can be used for food when done.”
Oleksa’s niece, Cheryl DeVore, was among the students who were learning to work with clay for the first time. She said she comes from a family of artists, but until she took the pinch pot class, she didn’t think she had inherited any artistic talent.
“I think I’ve found a new passion,” DeVore said. “The drawing and painting genes skipped me, so I’m actually pretty excited about this. I’m definitely going to come to more classes.”