The Hawaii Potters’ Guild (HPG) Educational Outreach program, Building with Clay, was established in 2010 and is a clay instruction program for underserved youth and adults in schools and community centers on O’ahu. Through the Building with Clay program, HPG is committed to building community, artistic skills, self-confidence, and opportunities for creative growth through the teaching of ceramics. The program’s instructors are ceramics artists and professional educators, several of whom are Part-time Temporary Teachers (PTTs) within the Hawaii Department of Education school system.

Due to budget cuts, many schools have been forced to discontinue or limit arts programs. HPG believes that art is an important component in the healthy development of children because it fosters creativity and encourages self-expression.

Studies have shown that clay art helps children to better communicate, increase fine motor skills, develop problem-solving skills, and strengthen good work habits. Clay art fosters creativity and encourages self-expression.

Classes are taught in five-to-ten week sessions, with new projects introduced during each class. Through the clay classes, students develop self-confidence in their ability to create art. Students are taught basic clay vocabulary terms and learn a variety of clay techniques; including making pinch pots and slabs, coiling, extruding, attaching, and texturing. Students have been taught to use decals on tiles, carve clay pieces with loop tools, and use slip-trailing and marbling in their work. Students have created their own molds and clay stamps. Students make both functional (soap dishes, plates, mugs, bowls) and figurative (humans, animals, sealife, birds, reptiles) ceramic forms in Building with Clay sessions.

From the first class, students are encouraged to respect their own work and the work of other students, and to share their tools and expertise. Students are able to give feedback as to the types of projects they would like to create, and critique their work in a safe environment.

Classes begin with a demonstration by the instructor. Students participate during the demonstration by asking and answering questions about clay projects. The HPG instructors move through the class and provide individual help as needed. Students are encouraged to help their neighbors, problem-solve, use their imaginations and make each piece their own.

Since its inception, HPG’s Building with Clay program has taught hundreds of classes to well over 3000 children and adults. HPG partnered with Palama Settlement in 2010 to establish a year-round clay program for children and court-adjudicated teens at Palama. In November of 2011, with the assistance of HPG instructors, Palama children created a 9’ by 15’ mosaic sea-life wall to commemorate Palama Settlement’s 100th anniversary of incorporation.

Building with Clay classes are taught to 2nd through 5th graders on a year-round basis at Princess Ka’iulani Elementary School, where over 40% of students are English Language Learners (ELL). A new program has been implemented at Prince Kuhio Elementary School with Kindergartners through 2nd graders. Building with Clay sessions have been taught to seniors at Kamehameha Homes, Maluhia Homes, and Mayor Wright Homes.

Building with Clay sessions have also been taught at Boys & Girls Club of Hawaii, Central Middle School, Hawaii Children’s Discovery Center, Hawaii State Art Museum (HiSam Second Saturday events), and the Honolulu Museum of Art Spalding House (Artspree events).

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