valuable tactile experience
As funding cuts continue to reduce art programs in schools, more research is supporting the importance of art in child development. At London Clay Art Centre, we believe clay is an extraordinary artistic medium that grows children's skills like no other.
Working in clay is invaluable for the following:
The Clay 4 Kids Program Fund will help us give more kids the chance to grow their skills.
Clay studios are full of sensory experiences. Clay has a distinct smell. It makes unusual sounds when it's wet and running through your hands. Its texture can be gritty or smooth, and there are many different colours of clay. It begs to be touched in order to explore its plasticity and endless potential to be molded into myriad shapes. When else would an instructor encourage kids to get dirty in a classroom environment?!
Focus and Calming Effect
Time and again we hear stories from individuals living with attention deficit and anxiety disorders about how clay changed their lives and helps keep them centered, focused, and calm. We have also witnessed transformations for people living on the autism spectrum when they sit down to work with clay. Something about its tactile nature helps ground people and make it easier to focus on the task at hand. Using the potters wheel and working on handbuilt items have an inherently meditative and therapeutic quality. Read Simon's Story: A Mother's Perspective.
Working on a potter's wheel or handbuilding with slabs of freshly rolled out clay is challenging. It requires the use of fine and major motor skills to manipulate the clay and create something with structural integrity. Clay can be twisted, rolled, pinched, poked, stretched, squished... whatever little hands can do, clay will gladly accept.
Self-Esteem and Self-Expression
Clay demands and is very responsive to touch. Kids with clay in their hands instinctively begin to mold and shape it. They quickly understand how to manipulate it with confidence and skill to create projects that reflect their unique imaginations. The forgiving quality of clay gives children the opportunity to make mistakes and successfully fix them, which builds self-esteem through self-expression.
Critical Thinking and Problem Solving
Clay is a three-dimensional medium. It requires kids to understand form, shape, perspective, and geometry. They have to look at their pieces from various angles to analyze them from all sides in order to fully understand them and make sure they remain intact as they grow taller or wider. Problems that arise must be addressed by using critical thinking and the logic gained by experience to solve the issue and continue on the making journey.
Discipline and Persistence
Clay is a demanding medium because it dries out as it's being worked with. Its plasticity changes as time moves along and it can be ruined at any stage along the way through lack of attention to its demands. Children working with clay need to be disciplined in thinking ahead. For instance, to anticipate best results they need to know how and when to add attachments or carve decorations into the surface. Persistence in trying repeatedly to achieve a desired result will eventually be rewarded with new understanding, skills, and exciting finished pieces!
Resiliency and Pride
Resiliency is a fundamental trait of clay artists. The process is very complex and is full of opportunities to make mistakes or to fail. In the words of Albert Einstein, "Failure is success in progress". The resilience acquired by learning from mistakes and turning them into knowledge makes well-rounded people, and great clay artists! Ultimately, working through failures with a positive attitude culminates in a sense of pride in having created something marvelous out of a humble lump of clay.