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Students with a passion for pottery at The University of Akron have banded together to form a new club called ‘Seize the Clay’ based in Folk Hall, the arts building on campus.
The new club welcomes students of all experience levels, with a focus on creative freedom and learning.
Last year, UA didn’t have a ceramics club as the previous one no longer existed on campus. as the previous ceramics club no longer exists on campus. Junior Shirer Delancey, president of Seize the Clay, knew that she wanted to create a new club with a teaching aspect.
“I wanted something completely new and different from the past club,” Delancey said. “The goal of Seize the Clay is to expand the knowledge of ceramics to our campus.”
Consisting of 25 members, the club may not be the biggest on campus, but that doesn’t bother Delancey.
“It means that everyone is able to have a space to work during meetings and throw on the wheels,” she said.
Seize the Clay members learn how to throw at the wheel and make their own pieces, including glazing and firing in one of the 15 kilns available and are given dedicated shelf space for their creations.
Delancey grew up in Zanesville, Ohio, which has been affectionately referred to as the “Pottery Capital of the World.” As a child, Delancey recalls her mother taking both her and her brother to a local ceramics shop where she remembers glazing pieces they picked out.
“I still have a piggy bank I made years ago,” Delancy said. And just like that, her love for ceramics was born.
Ceramics found Delancey again in high school during her junior year when she took her first ceramics class. With the encouragement of her art teacher, Delancey decided it was something she wanted to pursue.
Delancey carried that passion with her to the UA where she majors in art education with a minor in ceramics. Delancey hopes to one day teach at a high school with a ceramics program.
“Having the club allows me to combine teaching and ceramics. I love getting new members that have never touched clay and just want to learn,” Delancey said.
That excitement for teaching the art of ceramics is shared by junior Katheryn Schopp, the organization’s vice president.
“One of my favorite memories from Seize the Clay is being able to help people who are not involved in ceramics learn a new skill,” Schopp said. “Throwing can be really frustrating and just seeing people finally have that light bulb moment is really special.”
Junior Kayla Weinman, club treasurer, said that she also likes to help and teach other students skills that can better their work, doing her best to share her love for ceramics with the club’s members. .
Not only is the club a way to share their knowledge of ceramics with other students, but it’s a way for all members to explore and hone their skills without the pressures of a normal classroom.
“When I come into the studio on club time, I can just create and explore without fear of failing,” Schopp said. “This club gives me the ability to test things I wouldn’t normally have time for in my other ceramic classes and I really appreciate that.”
The new club had some big plans for the remainder of the spring semester, which needed to be canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We were planning to take the majors and minors to a ceramic convention that was cancelled due to the virus,” Delancey said. “We were all very sad to have our ceramics trip cancelled due to the circumstance this year.”
Despite this setback, Delancey has already begun writing several grants to secure funding for next semester. The club also plans to hold a handmade mug sale during the fall to help with travel costs. Members had already begun working on their mugs before the campus was shut down due to COVID-19.
Delancey and her fellow officers have high hopes for the club going forward.
“I hope this club can build its own reputation as a club that includes all, even beginners and people who think they can’t do art,” Schopp said. “Everyone can do art.”