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Why Clay Matters

By Jenna Cleary - May 21, 2024

“Creating with clay is a physical-sensual-mental experience. The physicality and limitless potential for creativity engages our muscles, fine motor skills, vision, and imaginations. We are simultaneously allowing unprocessed feelings to shape the clay while making detailed decisions about which direction we’d like to take our piece.”

Jo-Ann Finkelstein, Ph.D.,7 Unexpected Ways Clay IsTherapeutic,3/8/20,PsychologyToday.com

As art teachers, we are often expected to be comfortable with all mediums.  Learning yet another technique or medium can be daunting and overwhelming. However, there are compelling reasons why clay is crucial for our students’ development.  

Benefits of Working with Clay

Encourages

  • CREATIVITY
  • IMAGINATION
  • CURIOSITY
  • FINE MOTOR SKILLS
  • COMMUNICATION

Can Help with Symptoms of 

  • ANXIETY
  • DEPRESSION
  • PTSD
  • ANGER ISSUES

Improves

  • FOCUS & MOOD
  • SELF-ESTEEM
  • PROBLEM-SOLVING SKILLS
  • ARTISTIC DISCIPLINE
  • STRESS LEVELS
  • STORY-TELLING SKILLS

Ceramics can support mental health issues, problem-solving skills, self-discipline, reading, and math. Another important aspect of clay is that it can reach students who are not 2D artists.

As a young art student, I was interested in art but would not have called myself a natural 2D artist.  After taking one ceramics class with a teacher who pushed me to grow creatively, I became obsessed with clay.  There was something so special about clay: the texture, the immediate results, the calming quality.  From that point on, all of my free time was spent in the ceramic room, covered in clay.  My high school ceramics teacher encouraged me to pursue art as a career, leading me to art education and becoming a ceramic artist.  She remains a friend and mentor to me to this day.

Why Clay Matters

Why Clay Matters – Boosting Confidence

If I hadn’t discovered clay in school, I would have never pursued art as a career.  I lacked the confidence and skills at that time in my life.  Clay gave me the courage to take risks, develop my artistic voice, and find my passion.  Students who do not get the opportunity to explore different mediums may never find their artistic path.  Clay can be intimidating for educators with limited experience or who have never had the time to explore the medium.  Not worry; we are here to help you through the process.   Let us help support your ceramic education experience!

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Jenna Cleary

Jenna Cleary is a ceramic artist, art educator, and advocate for ceramic education. She works with schools and art organizations in the United States to create workshops and large scale mosaics. She enjoys working alongside art educators, offering educational support, and inspiring young artists.

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One response to “Why Clay Matters”

  1. Denise Bennett says:

    Jenna,
    When I look back at my teaching career you will always be at the top of my accomplishments! I am so proud of the educator, artist and woman that you have become. It seems like yesterday when I introduced you to clay, I knew right away that art, clay and teaching was the path you were meant to take. Love you, my clay buddy!
    Love your high school art teacher ❤️ Denise

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