Sculpting clay can mold a life
Students at FSDB learn about the art of pottery with a little guidance
By Alicia Nierenstein | email@example.com
When you think of cold, wet clay, do you think of it being used for therapeutic purposes?
According to Fernando Arango, director of the Florida School for the Deaf and Blind Department Art Club, this is just one of the advantages of the pottery class that he teaches at the school.
Arango, who has worked with the club for two years, holds the class for the school’s blind students every Tuesday afternoon from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m.
“It is like therapy for the students because it helps with coordination,” Arango said. “Since they cannot see, they have good perception of dimension and they are good at sculpting.”
The small class is able to be conducted with the amount of volunteers they have as of right now.
However, having more volunteers would allow more personal time with the students, and a better chance for learning and understanding the art of pottery.
“If we had more volunteers that would mean more one-on-one time,” Arango said. “The volunteers would be a great help because they could be right there beside the students, guiding them.”
In the past, students have made flower vases, coil and pinch pots, thrown bowls, pencil holders, mugs, bowls and animals, such as monkeys, turtles, and dragons. As a class they have produced a large tactile art mural.
The students also make their own glaze––called bisque––and they use it to cover their projects once they are finished with them.
One project usually takes about three class sessions to complete.
There are three pottery wheels at the school, and while they allow students to create their masterpieces, the wheels require adult supervision when students are “throwing” their pots.
With a lack of volunteers, those who want to learn this craft are hindered.
If there were more people to assist students, the pottery class would be a “very good opportunity for all people to learn how to make pottery,” Arango said.
The program has been looking for volunteers who have experience with pottery, and would not mind spend a couple of hours on Tuesdays getting their hands dirty.
“The students are always so happy to be here,” Arango said. “This is a blessing in disguise. Working with these kids makes you value what you have.”
The club is funded through a Wellness Grant sponsored by the Theodore R. and Vivian M. Johnson Scholarship Foundation, Inc.
Arango says volunteers can feel free to make use of the facility and make their own projects when they are not assisting students.
Arango says he hopes more volunteers will make it possible for the pottery program to expand to include deaf students at the school as well.
Students who are interested in volunteering for the program should contact the FSDB Resources Development Office at (904) 827-2310.
Parents who would like to volunteer can call the Parent Information Office at (904) 827-2988.