Section: Arts

Robin Nordmoe brings pottery classes back to Craft Center

 To many students’ excitement, the Craft Center reopened this October after a three-month-long closure due to staffing and space limitations. Longtime instructor Robin Nordmoe is teaching pottery classes this semester that have been extremely popular since she first offered them in 2007, with the classes filling up almost immediately after signups are released. Nordmoe’s classes, “Introduction to Pottery” and “Returning to Pottery,” each hold seven students and meet once a week. They offer students a wonderful opportunity to deeply engage in a relaxing art form from a beginner level. 

Nordmoe has been making pottery for more than 40 years, beginning in her first year at Luther College in Iowa. Pottery was the emphasis in her arts major, and she later served apprenticeships with functional-form potters. In addition to being her classroom, Nordmoe uses the Craft Center as her studio over breaks and during the summer, and she has work for sale at Williams Flowers and Wine in Mount Vernon.

The “Introduction to Pottery” class mostly focuses on how to throw, or make pieces on a wheel, although the class does learn other techniques for constructing pots from slabs of clay. Nordmoe primarily teaches how to make functional forms, such as bowls, cups and plates. A typical class includes a demonstration of a skill and then time for the students to practice that skill. As the class progresses, students are able to freely work on a piece of their choosing. The studio is open to students outside of class time for them to come in and practice and finish pieces, so, for the most part, it is up to the student how much time and work they put into the class.

Students learn not only how to throw, but also how to trim and decorate pieces that have been partially dried out. Later in the class, they learn to glaze their work, and finish the six-week-long course with several completed projects.

Nordmoe also offers  “Returning to Pottery” for students of intermediate and advanced levels. It is similar to the introductory class in structure, but includes demonstrations of more challenging skills and allows for greater freedom in creating pieces of different styles.

Both classes are a perfect opportunity for students to learn a creative yet meditative skill. Nordmoe creates and teaches pottery for this reason. “I like to promote the practice of working on things like pottery to learn something new about oneself, to relax and relieve stress, and to build a creative community within our studio,” she wrote in an email to the Collegian. Her classes have also included adults from outside of Kenyon as attendees, allowing the Craft Center to serve not only as a creative outlet for students, but a place for building community relationships.

Because of the Craft Center’s recent reopening, it is undergoing changes to its administration and staff, who have yet to determine which classes will be offered next semester. However, Nordmoe plans to continue teaching and hopes to double the beginner classes in the spring. Signups are sent out via email, so students should be on the lookout for upcoming opportunities.

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