Kentuck offers clay courses

Laura Testino

Kentuck Art Center invites students and other members of the Tuscaloosa community to dive into the arts this summer with Clay Days, a series of classes exploring clay as a medium for artistic expression. The classes focus on various techniques and can be enjoyed by beginning and professional artists alike.

Janie Plaxco, Clay Co-op president at Kentuck Art Center, said she hopes the community embraces the idea of working with clay rather than being intimidated by it. She said there are lessons applicable for those with all levels of clay experience, starting at age 6.

“You can do a lot of different things with [clay], whether it’s sculpting or building or throwing, and so you can pretty easily have a product that is extremely appealing to you,” she said.

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Daniel Livingston, a Kentuck demonstrating artist of more than 20 years and Kentuck instructor of two years, will be teaching classes in glazing and Raku, a 500-year-old Japanese technique.

Livingston said he expects to see various community members in his classes. He plans to individualize the instruction for each student’s level. His beginning-level students can expect to create pinch pots. More advanced students will have the opportunity to try their hands at creating sculptural works or working on the wheel.

Lee Busby will instruct an introductory sculpting course focusing on the features of the head, face and neck. Busby began sculpting around four years ago and developed an interest in the natural nuances of the face.

“Clay, to me, is fun. It’ll do what you tell it to do. You just have to know how to tell it. If you don’t like it, you can mash it up and do it again,” he said. “My advice would be to just jump right on in.”

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The Clay Days summer courses vary in length, depending on the subject. Busby encourages members of the community to abandon any fears associated with art and enroll in a class.

“Nobody’s down here judging. If you know a little, you can pick it up there, or even if you know nothing, it’s just a fun couple of days,” he said.

Hayes Dobbins has been an instructor at Kentuck for three years and teaches a hand-building clay course for younger children.

“I teach [the students] how to do a mug,” she said. “I teach them how to do a little bowl. We make a mask, and we can do a superhero mask or a Mardi Gras mask. I kind of let them direct the creative part once we get through the basics.”

Dobbins said clay appeals to her because it is forgiving and fairly easily manipulated. She said she has enjoyed observing the ways her students work with clay to create various final products.

Registration for Clay Days courses begins Tuesday.

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