Chickening out with Keramos Ceramics and the Agriplex

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Rebecca Horner stands in front of her group at the North Alabama Agriplex on Saturday, Feb. 3, 2024. (Cheyenne Sharp)

CULLMAN, Ala. – Families and children sat around paper-lined tables at the North Alabama Agriplex on Saturday, Feb. 3, chatting and swapping stories as they waited for the day’s class leader. Rebecca Horner, owner of Keramos Ceramics in Hartselle, spent the morning instructing and demonstrating to youngsters how to construct their very own pinch-pot style ceramic chickens.

“This is just one of our many awesome programs that we offer for kids and families at the Agriplex,” said Garden Educator Sonya Boyd.

Like with most hands-on projects with children, messy hands abounded. Each student had three unassuming blocks of clay to transform into ceramic poultry with whacks, rolls and pinches to stretch and mold the bodies, crowns, waddles and beaks of the birds, giving individual personality and charm to the stationary beings.

Beginning with the basics and the first block of clay, Horner demonstrated her preferred method of rounding the cubes of clay – a sturdy smack with the heel of a hand to soften the edges without folding the clay; folding can disrupt the integrity of the compact clay, trapping air and ruining a creation once in the kiln. Blocks of clay were molded and manipulated with the utmost thought and care by each attendee. Personalities of the artists shone through as birds of every shape and configuration began to take shape.

Students got an up close and personal experience with Horner as she took a hands-on demonstration approach, walking around the huddled groups, correcting depth errors and praising each soon-to-be chicken’s creative design. She taught the students how to transform the bowls of the birds’ bodies, create heads and wings, waddles and crowns and how to score and apply water to areas that needed to bind together once fired.

The novice potters weren’t able to claim their feathered friends just yet. Horner planned on prettying the chicks up with a glaze and fire before reuniting creators and creations.

“I’ll take them back and fire them; we usually deliver the pieces back to the Agriplex so the families can organize pickup locally,” Horner explained.

The North Alabama Agriplex is home to many programs for children, students and families. The Agriplex is located at 1714 Tally Ho St. and can be reached at 256-297-1044. See program opportunities at www.agriplex.org.

Keramos Ceramics is available for private adult groups, private parties and regularly scheduled classes. Keramos Ceramics is located in Hartselle at 110 Sparkman St. SW and can be reached at 256-502-9906.

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