Ceramic students at Hayes High School didn’t need a magical old silk hat to bring snowmen to life last week as they handcrafted snowman cookie jars.
Hayes art and ceramic teacher Cynthia Vaught said Friday that making cookie jars has been a staple in her class for years, but this year she decided to theme them around the holidays and give the same assignment to all of her students, instead of different assignments for each of the six levels of ceramic students.
“Since we have six levels, I decided to try doing one assignment with all six levels with different techniques,” Vaught said. “I thought that would be fun, having six levels doing one them.”
Vaught added the cookie jars must be at least a certain size, thickness, and have a lid, but the rest of the design is entirely up to the students.
“All of the projects are like this, I only give five requirements on each project,” she said. “The assignments are like, ‘Here’s the problem, now you get to solve it.’ Really, all of the projects are pretty open-ended. They can work it out however they want. It lends to the problem-solving aspect of making art. All the stuff I’ve taught them all semester is coming together in this project.”
The prominence of the snowman theme varied project to project.
Payton Day, a senior in the class, said she started with a snowman but saw what everyone else was doing and changed her designed to a blue winter-y jar with a snowman carved into the top. Day used the class’s extruder to get coils of clay and shape them into the jar.
“I wanted something I could keep out most of the year,” she said. “I like this project, but I found it very frustrating trying to get it to look the way I wanted it to look. But I’ve overcome that. I like this project, because I get to see what everybody else is doing.”
On the other side of the classroom, Ryan Vroegop, a freshman, was working on his jar in the shape of a snowman’s head complete with a Santa hat and facial features.
“It’s pretty fun,” he said. “It takes a little more time.”
Braden Krauss, a sophomore in the class, was creating a jar in the shape of a full snowman. Krauss said he enjoyed the open-ended nature of the assignment.
“I like the personal creativity with it,” he said. “You could make the three balls or you could just make a jar and put a decoration on it.”
Krauss’ jar is located in the middle of his snowman, which was a practical and stylistic decision.
“Personally, I’m short on time and I think it’s quicker, but I also like the figure of it more,” joked Krauss. “It’s classic.”
Alana May, a sophomore, said she already has plans for her snowman jar when it’s finished.
“It’s a great gift. Mine is going to my grandma,” she said. “It’s super cute.”
May added the project tested all of her skills.
Hannah Ramsey, a senior in Ceramic 6, was starting her jar from scratch Friday. She said her first project was nearly done when she mishandled it and dropped the lid on the ground, shattering it. Ramsey said even though she’s disappointed to have to start over, it gives her the chance to do better.
“With every project there’s something that goes wrong,” she said. “You can’t plan for it. It just happens. Clay cracks and breaks. I think the biggest thing is just not being upset about it. It’s an opportunity to look at something I didn’t like about the first one and fix that with this one.”
Ramsey said she’s enjoyed the project and was confident she could complete it by the last week of the semester, when the jars are due.