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The everyday artist

Ceramics club members bring art to life

Created date

September 25th, 2012

Members of the ceramics club at Ashby Ponds, an Erickson Living community in Ashburn, Va., create beautiful pottery that reflects both their individuality and uniqueness. Making things out of clay is a very pleasurable hobby, says club leader Barbara McArdle. There is no limit to what you can make in size, shape, or color. As you stroll through life and observe what is around you, ideas develop in your mind. It is great fun to bring those ideas to your pottery.

Something new

The Ashby Ponds ceramics club meets each Wednesday morning from 9 a.m. to noon in the campus crafts room. Club members pay $25 a year to cover the use of the kiln and many of their shared supplies. Our club serves a purpose far beyond just making things, says Barbara. Each member has something unique to gain and unique to give. We strive to provide a healthy environment for members to work with their hands, socialize with friends, and contribute as they wish. Many of the club s members are making pottery for the first time. Mildred Fitch never worked with pottery before her neighbor Jennie Morgan asked her to help the club create ceramic Christmas trees for the annual Ashby Ponds holiday bazaar. I had never worked with pottery before, says Jennie, But once I did, I was hooked. I thought Mildred might feel the same way, and I was right. I agreed to help make the Christmas trees and really enjoyed the work, says Mildred. I now work with pre-molded pottery known as greenware. I paint and marbleize the pottery and end up with something very beautiful. Like Jennie and Mildred, Lois Mackay had never worked with pottery before attending a club gathering. It was something I always wanted to do, Lois says. A year ago, I decided to come and see what the club was all about. Barbara showed me the basics, and the rest is history. I come as often as I am able and love painting the greenware.

Talented leaders

Other members, like Nancy Bishop, enjoy the opportunity to continue a lifelong love of working with clay. For 28 years, Nancy had her own studio at the Torpedo Factory Art Center, a world-renowned art studio in Old Town Alexandria, Va. Before I moved to Ashby Ponds, I invited Barbara and other members of the club out to my house in Berryville, Va., says Nancy. I had my own studio there and knew that I would like to donate many of my tools to the club. Nancy teaches members of the club how to mold clay from hand as an alternative to using pre-molded greenware. I moved to Ashby Ponds this past spring, she says. For three months, I was so busy with the move that I didn t have time to work with my clay. The first time I came to a club meeting, I had my ah moment. It felt so good to put my hands in clay again. Pottery is a wonderful art. It keeps your body strong and your mind active. As a member of the Greater Reston Arts Center, Carolyn Evans is also no stranger to clay. When I learned that Ashby Ponds had their own kiln, I was very excited, she says. I enjoy being able to put my ideas into the clay and see a finished product that others can enjoy. There is a real pleasure in that.

Sharing their art

One thing about working with clay is that there is inevitably a point when you no longer have room for any more of your pottery, says Nancy. It is then that your focus changes to what you can make for others. Currently, I am working on some turtles for members of the garden club. Beginning in late summer, the entire ceramics club begins working on items for the annual holiday craft bazaar, donating all profits to a campus charity. Last year, the club made 135 lighted Christmas trees in addition to other holiday keepsakes. I did a lot of pottery when my kids were little but I hadn t done anything in so long, says club member Harriet Hunt. Helping with the bazaar got me back into pottery again, and it s wonderful. Hoping that others will discover a love for pottery, the club has an open door policy working with the door open as an invitation to their neighbors to walk in and see what the club is all about. We are always talking, laughing, and socializing, says Barbara. That s part of what makes pottery so much fun. On Wednesday mornings, follow the sounds of joy and spend some time with us. You may surprise yourself.