Red Cedar Elementary School students got an exciting new addition to their art room this year thanks to the vision of their teachers, Jacquelyn Visscher (Art) and Rebecca Himes (Technology), and a grant from The Foundation for Educational Excellence. The Foundation granted money for the project entitled, Throwin’ Clay in the Art Room, during the Fall 2021 grant cycle to purchase a clay pottery wheel for the school’s art program.
“The addition of the pottery wheel has been more exciting than we could have ever thought possible!” said Visscher. “The kids were in awe of the process and were so excited to see the results and wanting to get their hands on it.”
All grade levels at Red Cedar Elementary School were able to watch their art teachers use the pottery wheel to create a vessel from beginning to end. The students also studied the history of clay pottery from cultures around the world. The 5th graders delved deeper into pottery research and created sketches of vessel designs for themselves.
Sixteen 5th grade students were given the opportunity to be part of an after-school clay club where they got to use the wheel to create their own clay pieces of artwork. The students were also allowed free time to explore and make mistakes on the wheel. According to their teachers, the students loved getting messy as they gained the understanding of the forces at work as the wheel spins. Guided by their teachers, each student made two pots or bowls which, were then fired and glazed.
The experience over the last few months with the pottery wheel gave many students the opportunity to witness a method of creating art they may have not otherwise ever seen before. “My hope is that this experience stays with [the students] and some continue on to take pottery classes in their future in middle or high school,” said Visscher.
The opportunity to see a lump of clay turn into something useful and artistic has allowed the students to see firsthand that anything is possible with a little hard work.
Working with a pottery wheel will help “shape” the future art careers of many of the students at Red Cedar Elementary School into something beautiful!