Story and photo by Jennifer Driscoll |
LINCROFT – The arts program at Thompson Park started with ceramics classes almost 30 years ago, but art instructors Katie Stone and Mary Leather said interest in pottery courses has boomed in recent years.
Despite the fact that pottery classes are held every day except Sunday, with multiple offerings daily, the classes fill up quickly. “You could get concert tickets easier,” said Leather.
About 200 students are currently enrolled in the program with varying levels of experience; many are veterans, returning to the classes year after year, but some are new to pottery entirely.
Stone and Leather believe there are a couple of reasons behind the classes’ popularity. With a “do-it-yourself” mentality becoming more mainstream, there has been a surge in the handmade industry. More people want to make something with their own hands, and art classes are the perfect place to do that. The instructors believe there is a mental component to it as well: a desire to escape the stresses of life and do something calming and artistic.
Both Stone and Leather took art classes at the park as teens, which helped ignite their desire to attend art school and later return to work for the Monmouth County Park System. Leather said making art is “like breathing… you have to do it in some shape or form,” while Stone described it as a “grounding and meditative” experience.
Katie Achille of Ocean Township, one of the students in the class, seemed to agree. She explained that she took a pottery class at the park nearly 20 years ago and came back to “do something artistic and use a different part of [her] brain.”
Achille said making pottery has been both a difficult and rewarding experience so far, as it’s completely different from her career in public relations. “It’s challenging to work with something not as forgiving as words or research,” she said.
The social aspect of the class is also part of the appeal. Leather and Stone both agreed the students’ sense of camaraderie is obvious as they admire each other’s finished work and chat with one another while making new pieces. As Leather put it, this class “is cheaper than therapy!”
As public demand for the pottery classes continues to grow, it’s evident they provide a much-needed outlet for participants to express their creativity and relax in a supportive, friendly environment.
This article was first published in the Nov. 16-23, 2017 print edition of the Two River Times.
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