Students who signed up for a ceramics class were surprised to find out that the class would still be offered and held remotely this year. The strange startup of the year being online constituted several questions following the decision to make a ceramics course online. Ceramics instructor, Ms. Ballenger, problem-solved by setting up a time where the students taking the class could drive by the school, pick up all the materials necessary for the first project and begin working at home. All sorts of cutting, rolling, and carving tools were included with a bag of clay for each student to transform their homes into a personal studio to try something new or advance their knowledge of clay working.
To start off, students were asked to make three sets of four tiles, every four of them following a unique category of decoration: attachment, sgraffito, and impression. In a normal year, students new to ceramics would be able to physically be in the room with the instructor while learning the basics of how to handle clay properly or how to roll out a correct slab, but due to remote learning, students were instructed through their screens and were trusted to experiment with the clay on their own during class time over Zoom.
“The challenging part was monitoring student work”, Ms. Ballenger said, without in-person learning, there was no way for her to touch the work that was being made, let alone using the pottery wheels that are provided in the classroom.
As the year progressed remotely, everyone involved in ceramics learned to overcome such obstacles and produced lovely pieces of art. Taking a break from the computer to work with clay was definitely a benefit of remotely held ceramics, said Ms. Ballenger, it added art into the hectic days. Ms. Ballenger highlighted that the students were particularly flexible and able to chase after their creativity during their tile project. Senior Taylor Smith’s tiles thrived in acute detail that took on a floral theme with her first set of tiles. Senior Elizabeth Bisno created a cohesively simplistic yet thoroughly thought out set of tiles mimicking a modern style of art.
With school finally resuming in-person classes, one can only imagine the creativity in store for the rest of the year.