National Park Theme Classes

Weekly classes each Monday from 3:30-5:00 pm

Week 1: Animal Tracks

Objective: Learn which tracks come from which animal. What are these animals like in the wild? Where do they live? What do they eat? How can you tell their tracks apart from other animals? Students will create and decorate ceramic ornaments centered around recreating distinct animal tracks. At the end of class, the group will try and see which track belongs to which animal. 

Week 2: Native American Pottery

Objective: With a deep history of pottery in and around Utah’s National Parks, we will explore this ancient process of hand-building coil pots. Students will learn about the history of pottery specific to surrounding Native Tribes, how natives sourced their own clay, how they created vessels, and the process of decorating their pots with surface treatments. 

Week 3: Geology and Clay

Objective: It is quite easy to see the different rock layers on a drive through Utah’s National Parks. Let us explore the differences of these rocks and how they relate to the various stages of clay. Students will work on a project where they learn why and when clay absorbs water and when it does not by decorating bisqueware with sponges, oxides, and glazes. 

Week 4: Plant Species

Objective: There are so many different kinds of plant species and each one thrives in a very unique and specific environment. Students will get an introduction to various plants of each National Park and work on a project where they create impressions of plants and work with stamps to decorate a piece of pottery. 

Week 5: Wheel Throwing

Objective: Why are there so many stripes on some of the big walls of canyons? This has to do with the different sediments and water levels of ancient canyon floors and rivers. As time passed, it created extremely visible layers and colorful striations within the canyon walls. We will learn how to mimic this phenomena within our own studio by throwing marbled clay on the pottery wheel. Students will get a chance to recreate a vessel inspired by Utah’s Big Walls. 

Week 6: Artists in National Parks

Objective: Did you know that most National Parks have programs where artists can go and spend a season in a park just to create artwork? They are called Artists in Residency. We will look at some of these artists from a few National Parks and let them further inspire us with an image transfer project. Students will paint an image and transfer it onto a piece of pottery through a process called image transfer. 

Week 7: Dark Sky Luminaries

Objective: There are two International Dark Sky Reserves here in Utah’s National Parks; Capitol Reef and the newly added Bryce Canyon. Let us embark on a journey where we explore the depths of the Universe and look at various planets and constellations. Students will create Dark Sky Luminaries that can brighten up any night with a vibrant constellation.

Week 8: Arches Competition

Objective: With this being the final week there will be a competition for our students. Arches National Park was formed over many many thousands of years where water, wind, and other forces dug away at the geological layers to create different kinds of arches. Students will get a brief introduction to these processes and the kinds of geological formations to then create their own arch! By carving and sponging away at a block of clay, students will not only create an arch landscape but also keep it from collapsing. Last one standing wins!