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Play date to clay date





Playing with clay was more than just fun at the Hays Arts Council winter break ceramics class on the Fort Hays State University campus Thursday morning.

The nine children in grades one to four who signed up for the four-day class will get to do more than get their hands dirty.

By the time the class is finished Monday, the students will have a chance to make a slump mold, a couple of pinch pots and a small animal out of clay.

It also gives FHSU students Ryan Swayne and Jessica Hayes real-life teaching experience.

Hayes is a ceramics major, and Swayne, working on a bachelor of fine arts in ceramics, is an art education major.

"This is my first chance to teach a class, and I'm real excited for it," Swayne said.

The students began by drawing the design they wanted to transfer to their slump mold.

Some, such as Alexis Burton and Carly Lang, like to draw and made intricate designs. Aiden Burton also likes to draw, but sticks to shapes such as hearts, squares and circles.

With the designing underway, the students selected a slab of clay to be cut into a circle or square, "whatever shape you guys want," Ryan said.

Students shaped the clay pieces over molds to be set aside for drying.

"Tomorrow (you'll) put your design on it," Swayne said.

Shaping the pinch pots brought laughter and chatter as the youngsters stretched and molded the clay.

That was the fun part for Evan Powell, who likes to build things.

The students fine-tuned their creations, gently shaping and reshaping the clay. Then they used pencils and woodworking tools to add designs. Then the pinch pots, too, were set aside to dry.

Hays Arts Council offers two ceramics classes during the winter break from school.

The morning class for first- to fourth-graders is hand-building and lets students learn about clay and explore hand-building methods.

The afternoon wheel-thrown pottery class is for students in grades five to 12. It teaches wheel-thrown pottery basics. Students make a mug, bowl and other items.

Kerry Wasinger enrolled her son, Kyle, in the morning class to give him a fun activity during the Christmas break.

"Otherwise, he spends the day with Mommy at work," she said. "He likes to build things, so I thought this was a good one for him."

The class also was a good fit for Kevin Shaffer's son, Ken.

"We gotta keep him busy," his father said.