Guest blogger Sammy Young '15 lives in Cabot House and is the student organizer of Clay All Night.
The first shuttle arrived and the mad rush began. Twenty to 30 undergrads shuffled off the bus and entered the ceramics studio. Rather than partying, hanging out in Boston, or catching up on reading or sleep, these students decided to spend their Friday night playing with clay at Clay All Night at the Ceramics Program studio. Clay All Night is an event that opens up the studio to all undergraduates to create with clay, whether it is their first or fiftieth time working with clay.
When the students entered the studio, they were faced with many options. In the back corner, Ceramics Program instructor Wayne Fuerst held demonstrations on how to make pots on the pottery wheel. To the left, studio staff and students used only their hands and tools to sculpt everything from animals to ships. Some students headed to the lounge to enjoy a snack as they tried to figure out what to make next.
Most of the newcomers went to Fuerst’s wheel-throwing demonstration to see him effortlessly center the clay into a perfect symmetrical mound. Within minutes, he opened the mound into a doughnut-like shape, pulled up the walls until it was a cylinder and shaped it into a beautiful bowl. After the demonstration, the students grabbed their own clay and tried it out for themselves. They quickly realized that getting the wobbly mass of clay centered is much more difficult than Fuerst made it seem. Every now and then, clay flew off the wheel, much to the amusement of those in the room. After much effort and with the help of some workers,
the wobbly mounds of clay were finally transformed into recognizable forms. One girl called out to her friends to check out the first cup she had made while another student admired his newly formed plate.
In another part of the room, students tried out hand building. With the assistance of only basic clay tools, students shaped and sculpted clay into anything they could imagine: basic cups and bowls, an unusual amount of elephants, a Panoplosaurus.
As the students finished their creations, many of them chose to have the studio fire the pieces so they could come back and glaze them later. This way they could keep their art work to show off to their roommates or to use as gifts to family members. Some students enjoyed the evening so much they signed up for classes at the Ceramics Program or at one of the houses.
As students cleaned up and the studio calmed down, another shuttle arrived and the mad rush began again.
[Caption: Wayne Fuerst teaches during Clay All Night. ]