Understanding how to handle clay and throw it on a wheel to create a cylinder is the beginning of it all. Like any skill, the more practice the easier it becomes. The studio is open five days a week. The class is only two days. Some people take advantage of the studio and come almost every day.

College of the Siskiyous instructor Sean Kenny is turning out many new ceramic artists.

At the end of the 2019 fall semester, beginner and intermediate potters showed their final presentation during finals week.

Creating stoneware for fun brings out the satisfaction, self-confidence and unknown talents of students both young and old.

The class of about 20 amateur throwers each went their own way to express their personalities through their work. There are challenges to overcome and skills to learn. Some disasters are turned into works of art instead of just being discarded. It is all in being creative and trying over again and again.

During finals week, students exhibited all their pieces in displays.

“The creative spirit is in everyone and the best part of working with people is seeing it come out,” said Amanda Thomas, the class’s instructional support specialist.

Understanding how to handle clay and throw it on a wheel to create a cylinder is the beginning of it all. Like any skill, the more practice the easier it becomes. The studio is open five days a week. The class is only two days. Some people take advantage of the studio and come almost every day.

One beginner student, Andrea Shanti, makes a precise, consistent set of mugs and paints them her signature color – rainbow. She displays them on a black background. “I’ve always wanted to do ceramics. Now that my son is going here ... I can take this class and see more of him. I am expanding my skills as an artisan.”

Shanti created her ceramics to support her handmade a line of holistic body therapy of message oils, art, and natural makeup. Bob Causey is a third year student and a retired teacher from Sisson School, where he introduced ceramics to his fourth grade class. He makes mostly tableware that consists of plates, soup bowls, and some mugs, vases and teapots. He has a studio at home, but he enjoys the interaction of working with others. He does most his work throwing on a wheel, unlike his wife Patt who enjoys hand building at home.

“To see people work all semester watching their frustrations, failures, mistakes, first on the wheel then learning to trim or adding handles to mugs or glazing for the first time and learning the personalities of the glazes and I see how each develop from it. There is so many dimensions to this art, this craft. At the end, putting all their work together in a display with a theme, reflex all the time, effort, triumphs and rewards. It is worth so much more than a grade,” said Causey.

Adam makes suki cups and little tea pots. He presents this on a color scheme using sarongs that matches his glazes. All of it is very petite, very delicate.

Christopher is intense and always on the move. His work reflects this. He has made many charming misshapen goblets, mugs, and bowls.

One student said that it is the only time that she doesn’t talk. “I just get lost playing with the clay and feeling it spin through my fingers on the wheel. It is very relaxing, except when I keep screwing up, then I take a break.”

Some students made about 25 pieces while others made closer to 100. Some place detail in the shaping of the vessel, some in the glazing and color scheme while others focused on texture, carving or sculpting of a design on their pieces. Others experimented in a little of everything.

“You all compel each other to grow,” said Kenny to the students. “This is the college experience. Lean on your peers. You have to create a community in your classroom.”

What will come of all these mugs, planters, and bowls? After a student survey, most will be given out as gifts. A lot will have a showcase in their creator’s home. Some will make use of their work and use what they made. After all, it is microwave and dishwasher safe.