Special homeschool ceramics class draws many out to first show over weekend 

Homeschoolers unite through art 

A showcase held Saturday for homeschoolers who completed a multiple-week ceramics course through the Community Arts Center certainly had something for everyone.

Jonas Blakeman of Crab Orchard explains his piece with the help of instructor Catherine Thomsen.

“We made things ranging from a race car to two-headed dragons,” says ceramics instructor Catherine Thomsen. She’s been teaching ceramics for three years at CAC, but has been working with art and clay “on and off” for her whole life.

“I adore kids,” Thomsen says. At first, she set out to teach English when she obtained her degree. “I adore kids, and with art — it’s just so fun. We have a really good time. Their hands and bodies are busy at work and we let their imaginations go. There’s a lot of talking about how to facilitate what they want to do artistically, but they love the flexibility and freedom of creativity in the class.”

Kids learned the basics of working in clay, Thomsen says. “We did coil work for designs, slab work … The only thing we didn’t do was wheelwork because some of the children are too small yet.” Aside from intricate, more artistic pieces, the kids also learned how to make mugs and plates and how to carve them.

Lilah Hess of Danville works with the help of instructor Catherine Thomsen.

“We learned how to make pinch pots too, but they turned them into monsters …” Thomsen says and laughs.

Although some ceramics classes are open to all children in the age range, the show over the weekend was made up of all homeschooled children — three classes of Thomsen’s with 11 kids in each.

“At the urging of several homeschool parents in the community, we opened up a section of ‘Homeschool Youth Ceramics’ back in January,” says Kate Snyder, marketing director for CAC. “It sold out so fast, we ended up offering two additional sections, which also sold out.”

“We had 33 kids in this show, and they’d been doing this class for seven weeks, creating up to three pieces each a week, so you can imagine how many finished pieces we had to choose from,” Thomsen says. In the main gallery inside CAC’s doors, three tables on pedestals were set up, and students were allowed to choose their favorite pieces, up to three a piece.

Baker Rose Wilson

“It was wonderful, it was great. A lot of families came and a lot of the kids’ siblings, my students siblings and even extended family members came,” Thomsen said of the Saturday event.

Thomsen says it’s important to her that the kids present their work.

“I wanted them how to learn to present their pieces in a professional and proud way, as an artist would. I direct them that they need to be able to talk about the process, how they made each piece, and the artistic procedure — how they made the decisions they did.”

Thomsen says homeschoolers don’t always get many opportunities to do showings like this.

“We wanted to celebrate what they did. From talking to parents out there, these 33 kids are really only a fraction of how many homeschooled kids there are out there locally …”

Thomsen said ceramics, or any form of creating art really, can be for any age.

“What’s interesting is that instead of having just one age group, I’d have kids who are 14 and some who are 4, and several siblings who took the class together,” she says. “I’ve offered some ceramics events over at McDowell Place retirement home; in one day, I had a 4-year-old in class at the Arts Center, and a 100-year-old at McDowell Place.”

Photos courtesy of Community Arts Center

SO YOU KNOW

Another Pottery for Kids/Mudslingers Family Ceramics class begins this weekend, meeting on Saturdays from March 18-May 6, offered to kids in kindergarten through eighth grade and their parents (children may take the class alone or parents are welcome to sign up). The class will meet 10 a.m. to noon, and costs $75 per person. For more information, visit www.communityartscenter.net or call (859) 236-4054.