PLATTSBURGH — They rolled up their sleeves, rolled out the clay, shaped it and colored it with all of the reds, greens and whites of Christmas.
Ten young artists, 5 to 8 years of age, crowded around a rectangular table in the North Country Cultural Center for the Arts, busily putting the final touches on their ceramic cookie plates.
There were stars, angels, Christmas trees and Santa Claus—flanked by a trio of “ho-ho-hos”— all adorning the handmade crumb catchers.
“The plates have to dry for three to four days before they can be fired,” said Shannon Piche-Smith, the instructor of the sold-out workshop.
Clay will spatter if it is not completely dry, making a mess in the kiln and ruining the piece. When they are ready, the plates will be placed under a bisque fire, after which a clear glaze is applied, giving the finished product a bright, shiny coating.
After one more firing the plates will be ready to go home, where a glass of milk will undoubtedly complement their Christmas Eve presentations.
But, more importantly, the finished products will be colorful, glimmering representations of each artist’s creativity.
Piche-Smith is an instructor in the center’s clay studio and teaches workshops at the NCCCA.
She will be teaching some of the upcoming holiday workshops, too, which take place every weekend until Christmas and will include how to make clay ornaments, personalized calendars, unique jewelry and self portraits.
“In an art class, kids are encouraged to be creative, they’re encouraged to use their imaginations and explore mediums,” Piche-Smith said. “There is freedom there because there are really no wrong answers.”
Piche-Smith used to teach art for the Beekmantown Central School District, but was laid off due to budget cuts last spring.
She has a passion for art and is enthusiastic about teaching it again.