Hi! My name is Maya. I’m a guest blogger for Manhattan Youth, and this is my first blog post! For this post I interviewed Rachael, a ceramics teacher at the Downtown Community Center. “I’ve always loved doing clay,” Rachael remarked. Rachael has been working with ceramics since she was in high school. In high school, she worked as an assistant to
Manhattan Youth Downtown Community Center. Rachael commented, “She sort of grabbed me. She was like, ‘Are you ready to come back now?’” Rachael has been working at Manhattan Youth for almost four years now.
Rachael teaches both adults’ and children’s ceramics classes. She also uses the studio to work on her own pottery. “I make and sell functional pottery at craft fairs around the city,” she explained. She continued that she has been growing her own pottery business as she teaches here. “Part time and part time,” she elaborated.
Rachael does mostly hand-building projects with the kids. “We start with pinch pots, coil pots, and slab projects, and then we move onto more complicated
things, usually using those techniques,” said Rachael. When students leave Rachael’s class, they know the basics of how to turn a lump into a figure.
The students in her Thursday Ceramics class are currently making baskets out of three individual pinch pots. Students can decorate the basket however they
want. During an interview,Rachael pointed excitedly to a basket a child had made and explained that he wanted to use the three pinch pots in the basket to hold celery, carrots and hummus, so he added a small clay piece of carrot and celery as decoration. “I was like, where does that come from?” laughed Rachael. She said her favorite part of the job is her students’ creativity. She elaborated that teaching kids “keeps clay fresh” for her. She explained, “when they’re interested, it’s really great to watch.”
After students take their work home, they can use it as dishes or containers. “They could use it to eat or drink out of: it’s functional,” noted Rachael.
When Rachael teaches, she does a demonstration first and then lets the students work. She said that to encourage creativity she tries to be as relaxed as possible. She commented, “I try to do projects that they can individualize, so it’s not all going to be the same.”