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Carolyn Sleeper (center) shows Mackenzie Faulk (left) how to center her clay on the wheel before starting a bowl as Ashlee Rasmussen throws a new bowl. MONA MOORE | DAILY NEWS
Carolyn Sleeper (center) shows Mackenzie Faulk (left) how to center her clay on the wheel before starting a bowl as Ashlee Rasmussen throws a new bowl.
MONA MOORE | DAILY NEWS

Archived Story

A fun mess: Children participate in clay camp

Published 11:32pm Wednesday, July 24, 2013

It took all morning, but 7 year-old Sydney Peebles finally did it. She threw a pot she could be proud of.

“I worked on four of them, and I finally did it,” she said, all smiles.

Peebles was one of several area children who enrolled in artist Carolyn Sleeper’s clay camp. Each day, the children hone their skills making masks, bowls, rattles and whistles.

“We have a theme every year, and this year it’s ‘Down on the Farm,’” Sleeper said.

That meant children filled the bellies of pigs and shells of frogs with clay beads for their rattles. They will spend today making animal masks.

Sleeper weaved through three sets of clay-covered little hands, sharing techniques and cheering on their good work. Somehow, she managed to keep the clay on the wheels and off herself.

Sleeper said children are great pottery students because of their willingness to get dirty.

“It’s a mess, but it’s fun,” Sleeper said.

Peebles has enjoyed the camp, so far.

“I like it how you can use different tools and you learn how to make stuff,” she said.

She finished a rattle before giving the wheel another try.

“You take little balls, put it inside and then, when she fires it, it makes little sounds,” she said, shaking a completed turtle.

Ashlee Rasmussen, 11, is in her fifth summer clay camp. She was one of the more prolific potters, throwing four pots in one sitting.

“I love throwing because it just makes me feel peaceful,” she said. “When I started, it was like really bad, but I feel I’m starting to do good at it.”

Sleeper encouraged her, saying it just takes practice.

Sleeper taught for years at Norfolk Collegiate School in Norfolk, Va., before retiring to Washington.

The Slatestone Studio will host four camps this summer, three for children and another for teenagers. Sleeper said the clay camps give her a small dose of what she loves about teaching.

“But it also creates memories for them,” she said.

The rest of Sleeper’s clay camps are filled. She will start her next adult pottery class in the fall. For more information on Sleeper and her classes, go to www.slatestonestudio.com or email her at Carolyn@slatestonestudio.com.

 

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