Big Brothers, Big Sisters: Clay Day

Members of the Big Brother Big Sister program will be lead through a day filled with learning clay-working techniques. On Thursday, November 29th 2012, eighteen members (nine pairs of Bigs and Littles) will be introduced to wheel throwing, hand-building, and glazing. Members will spend an hour at each station lead by both Megans and other volunteering ceramic students. Both Big and Little pairs will walk away with a common new found knowledge of clay working!

Class Presentation PDF


I have (Megan Hatcher) been a Big Sister for two young girls in the Missoula community. My most recent match loves being creative and working with her hands. I introduced her to some basic ceramic skills, and she immediately fell in love with the art! When the opportunity of this school project came about, I decided that I would like to introduce other Big Brothers Big Sisters (BBBS) participants to ceramics as well.


The process first involved getting the activity approved by BBBS. The project was approved and an announcement was sent out via email to all of the BBBS matches. Over 20 matches signed up for the activity within 3 hours of the announcement!! The lovely Meagan Schrey joined me in the project, and planning the event began from there. We decided to make mugs for everyone to glaze the day of the event. Two weeks in advance, we each made ten mugs with earthenware clay. We bisque fired the mugs and they were ready to go for the event! Meagan took over the hand building station, while I took over the wheel throwing station. She decided to have the children make masks. In advance, Meagan made newspaper molds over which slabs of clay were draped. Each Little and Big had a blank canvas for whatever kind of mask they wanted to make! She also provided photos of different kinds of masks, to spark ideas in the minds of the artists. Meagan and I wedged up 40 or so balls of clay in preparation for wheel throwing. I then got several wheels equipped with tools, water buckets, trays, and a pre-centered ball of clay. Lastly, we set up a table with the assortment of mugs and glazes. Volunteers managed this table throughout the event. The fun then began!!

Challenges and Success

Overall, the event was very successful and fun! The few challenges we faced were cleaning up mounds of wheel trays after the event, as well as a few communication errors throughout the process. We were really excited so many matches wanted to get involved, but were sad we could only allow nine to participate. Everyone had a great time! Most individuals were very independent and improved their technique by trial and error. Meagan and I believe that a handful of ceramic artists were born that day!


Q: What was your inspiration for the project?
A: My inspiration was I have a little sister match named Kelly and she’s ten. She’s very crafty and really enjoys art. So she has been to the studio a couple of times and I’ve taken clay home a couple of times. I’ve made stuff with her and she absolutely loved it and wanted to learn about it. When this project was offered I thought it was a great opportunity to get other matches involved as well. I had to contact the Big Sisters, Little Sister to get approved and get it scheduled and send out an announcement. Within three hours we had over twenty matches that responded and saying they wanted to participate. We were really excited everyone was so pumped about it.

Q: Did you give them a prompt?
A: A little bit, but I mainly wanted them to do whatever they wanted to do.

Q: How was it working with children?
A: I really didn’t think about it before but little kids just think really differently. It was fun. I really didn’t know how to keep them interested. They had really short attention spans on the wheel. They loved it but they kept looking all around. It was fun. One girl chatted, just telling me how to do everything. When they lose their attention and stick their fists in the pot, and wanted me to come over and fix it. I fixed three people pots at the same time so it was kinda crazy.

Q: What were the challenges and success?
A: 16 wheels to clean, that was a nightmare! And we had to be at two places at once, at the wheel, and the glazing station, difficulty in communicating. There’s just needed to be a lot of people in the project. There was difficulty at times. I was kinda afraid they wouldn’t focus like I was thinking three hours would be too long but they totally dug it the entire time so it was cool. One of the kids didn’t leave until 8. And I was talking to the Big Brother leader and he said this was the coolest thing they’ve done in Big Brother and they requested to this again.