Gary Jackson: Fire When Ready Pottery
A Chicago potter’s somewhat slanted view of clay & play
Categories: summer camp

It’s been a productive week so far at Summer Camp. My kids are each busy building a full chess set out of terra cotta clay. They’ve each developed their own themes and are building it piece by piece. But camp is not just clay… it’s also about cleaning and every other part of the process!

And for my camps, there are three simple rules…

Summer Camp Rule #1 : “Have fun.”
And it definitely looks like they are. You can see it on their faces, and in their work!

Summer Camp Rule #2 : “Your fun is not more important than anyone else’s fun.”
So there’s no teasing, nicknaming, bullying, acting up or anything else.

Score… slip… repeat.
Hopefully they’ve all learned some good handbuilding skills.
They’ll find out soon enough what happens as they dry if they have NOT scored & slipped!!!

They also needed to start painting their chess boards. Each chess board is 24″x 24″… which means each piece sits on a checkered section that is 3″ square.

Like I said… camp is not just about MAKING things, but also the other steps of the process. A tough lesson is reclaiming their dried clay. I keep telling them to watch out so their clay doesn’t dry too fast. To keep it covered with plastic and spray it once and awhile with water.  However, some of them don’t hear that warning… and we end up with some dry chunks of clay. So they then get to “volunteer” to pulverize the dry clay so we can reclaim it into useful slip. A little hard work might reinforce the lesson of “preserving” their wet usable clay.

At the end of the day, we clean up our class room. They kids are great about scraping & scrubbing the tables, sweeping the floor, cleaning all of their tools and making the room cleaner than it was when they came in for the morning.

Throughout the day, I also get to “enforce” my favorite of the rules…
Summer Camp Rule #3 : “Whatever mess you make, YOU will be cleaning up.”
So when there’s a mess on the floor by the sinks, the kids “volunteer” to be the ones to clean it up. They know the rules… and it’s all part of the process!

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