Students get the opportunity to ‘Play with Clay’

Play with Clay instructor Cindy Crosby gives pointers to student Taya Stovall . Photo by BROOKLYN FLINT of Keizertimes.

Normally when people think of a math teacher, they imagine numbers and graphs, but one teacher decided to do something a little different.

Cindy Crosby is the instructor for the clay class program that was offered at McNary High School this summer. She teaches math at Leslie Middle School but became interested in the idea of making things with clay.

“It was kind of exciting for the kids to see something that is completely different from what I teach. That was a fun way to connect with the kids,” Crosby said.

After deciding that she wanted to teach a class about clay creations, it then became a matter of figuring out how Crosby was going to pull it off and what projects she would have.

“I started doing my own research and trying my best to see what’s the basic materials they would need to have,” Crosby said.

She discovered that air dry clay would work best because they could leave it over night to dry and she wouldn’t need a kiln.

Crosby also felt like clay was a good idea because there isn’t normally many opportunities for middle schoolers to use it. Typically, students have to wait until high school art classes.

“It’s amazing because I asked the kids okay, have you done this before? Have you taken any clay lessons or anything like that? And they’re like, ‘no, I just played here and there with Play-Doh before,’” Crosby said.

A finished product of a clay creation. Photo by BROOKLYN FLINT of Keizertimes.

Another reason Crosby decided to teach a clay class was because she felt like it was relaxing to do and if someone made a mistake, it would be easy to fix by adding more clay.

“Clay is something that you can’t really mess up. If you make a mistake, you can always fix it,” Crosby said.

The camp program — which had its final session begin in early August and conclude on Friday, Aug. 20 — started out by teaching the campers different techniques such as the pinching method and how to use different tools involved to sculpt clay. 

After techniques, they worked on magnets, pinch pots, coil pots, three-tier planters and last but not least, clay figures of popular characters in claymation movies.

Campers first made drawings of their characters. Then when they were ready to make their creation a reality, they were handed a wooden block with bendable wires. After they shape the wires to match the shape of their character, the students put aluminum foil over it. The foil is used as a base for the clay.

The clay is then set right on top and smoothed out to the desired look for the character. Once that is all done, they leave the clay to dry and then paint it.

Crosby loved helping the campers with their projects and watching them socialize with each other, despite the kids not knowing each other.

“I just want them to have fun and be creative. Then also making some friends with the people who are in here,” Crosby said.