CATONSVILLE, MD (October 26, 2016) -- From knitting and jewelry making to hand-designed greeting cards, a do-it-yourself fever is making its way across the country.
Nowhere, perhaps, is this more evident than at Charlestown retirement community where a resident-run pottery group finds crafts are not only a great creative outlet but also a great way to socialize and stay connected with friends.
Eugenia High, a former social worker, had never made pottery before she moved to Charlestown two years ago, but that didn't stop her from signing up for an eight-week course through Baltimore County Community College where she learned how to mold and shape clay into beautiful works of art.
"At the end of the course, some of us wanted to continue on," says Eugenia. "A small group of us still get together once a week. We make plates, ornaments, jewelry, all kinds of things by hand. Some people are serious about their work and even sell the items they make. I really just do it for the fun of it."
Sondra Tucker, the group's facilitator, learned the art of pottery-making a few years ago from fellow Charlestown resident and retired high school art teacher Stephanie Weiss. Now Sondra shares the practices she learned from Stephanie in the community's art studio every Wednesday from 9 a.m. to noon.
"Everyone does their own thing," says Sondra. "I give them tips and suggestions, but most people are being creative in their own way."
There are two methods of making pottery -- hand built and wheel thrown. Hand-built pottery, the method of choice for Sondra and the Charlestown pottery group, uses three different techniques: the pinch pot method, which uses your thumb and forefinger to thin and mold the clay; the coil method, which rolls clay into thin ropes to be used as a base or rim; and the slab method by which a rolling pin is used to flatten the clay, similar to rolling out a pie crust.
"I really enjoy the creativity of it and getting my hands in the clay," says Sondra. "I've done mostly plates for the last few months, but I also do plaques, sculptures, and vases. Some of the things I make I give away as gifts, some things I use myself, and others I have for sale in one of the display cases outside the studio."
Charlestown residents will soon have the opportunity to sell their crafts in the annual craft show, a two-day holiday season event showcasing the community's artisans. Everything from fine needlecrafts and seasonal greeting cards to hand-painted clothing, handbags, and jewelry will be featured.
"It's one of our most popular events," says Mary Evans, community resources manager at Charlestown. "We've got such a talented group of people living here. The craft show allows them to showcase their talents and share their creativity."