January Directed Studies - Working with Clay with Ellen Dinerman

One of the most popular workshops at Piece by Piece is working with clay. We know there is a particularly therapeutic value to working with clay. According to an article by Shabnam Sultana for the Innovation of Wellbeing Foundation, “Clay-work involves body expression through the physical work with clay, and mental processes through the act of modeling and through observing the product. Thus it allows integration of emotions, memories, and fantasies from different levels of consciousness.” This is demonstrated in our classes, where we see this work’s therapeutic and healing aspects for the participants. Participants especially enjoy creating their own tiles to integrate into their mosaics.

To kick off the new year, instructor Ellen Dinerman led a workshop on making clay reliefs, experimenting in particular with texture and glazes. “Participants really enjoyed the clay relief project. The studio was so quiet with everyone working away; learning to carve clay and making various textures,” said instructor Ellen. “The idea was to make clay reliefs that would be centerpieces of small works with a border of mosaic.”

Artist Renae

The tactile aspect of shaping and carving clay appeals to many, and several artists expressed how meditative it was. Studies have shown that working with clay can help them focus on the present moment and relieve stress.

Artist John

In addition to the hands-on workshop series, Ellen also streamed several virtual talks about ceramic reliefs, including the work of Picasso and Moroccan tile artists. These Zoom talks added a level of understanding to the in-person classes by providing examples and historical context. Using handmade tiles in our mosaic projects is something we plan to do a lot more often.

Clay tile made at Piece by Piece

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