Let’s Get Dirty!
Every spring, I feel the need to get outdoors and sink my fingers in the dirt. Planting flowers, clearing weeds from the garden, enjoying the smell of the earth and the renewal that comes from the work at hand. From the time we were children, most of us enjoyed being outside and digging around in the dirt or in the sand at the beach, making that earthly connection.
Wet clay invigorates that connection and keeps it indoors, albeit still dirty. Let’s talk about the physical and mental benefits of getting a little dirty.
Sensory. Educators and psychologists encourage sensory play with children as it leads to language development, fine and gross motor skills, problem-solving skills and hits on four of the five senses — touch, smell, sight and hearing.
Rather than focusing on creating a specific project, young children may be satisfied with just smooshing the clay, adding water and listening to the sounds the clay makes as their little hands squeeze the mud through their fingers. Flat projects are a kid favorite. As children get older and their fine and gross motor skills develop, they may get more creative and build characters or houses or scenes from their imaginations — if the wall of their house keeps falling down, they will figure out ways to keep it upright, build support systems and create their 2D vision in 3D.
Longevity. We start off with a moldable, fully manipulatable chunk of soft, brown earth with the smell of something that comes directly from the ground exactly as it did thousands (and probably millions) of years ago. Modern clay is cleaned and processed for consistency, but the occasional stick or stone in the block reminds us from where it comes.
Utilitarian items such as bowls, mugs and jugs can be created for the most part exactly like they were in ancient times, and we know that they will be around long after we are gone — whether in full or shards.
Creativity. So much can be created with clay. Sculptors create busts, figurines and free-form shapes; children create “taco fish” and “shoe sole turtles” or the simplest mud pie. Museums around the world include pottery pieces from famous artists such as Pablo Picasso (with a huge inventory of pieces currently listed online for sale).
For as limiting as paper is, clay offers a free passport to unmatched creativity whether in handbuilding or by using the pottery wheel made famous in the movie “Ghost.”
So, take some time for yourself and get down to earth at your local pottery studio. You can find several in the area. Sign up for weekly classes and hone your new mud skills or visit with your friends and see what you can make. Each studio is different, so you may want to check them out online or call before going in. Go have fun and get dirty
Laurie Knisley, known as the ClayZ Lady, encourages young and old alike to get their art on. Whether it's pottery, painting, crafts, mixed media, journaling or needlework, she believes that art is the cheapest therapy available and the most fun. Laurie owns ClayZ Arts in Rockledge. She can be reached at 321-453-4848, GoCrazy@Clay-Z.com and ClayZArts.com.
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