Ceramics ignite at Mentor Senior Center – News-Herald

EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the first in a series of courses and their instructors for area seniors.

Sharon Williams’ wide-ranging art boasts working with custom vehicle lettering, holiday and floral design, landscaping, and a myriad of other creative channels.

But it is the art of ceramics that tops his list of favorites.

Williams teaches the craft at the Mentor Senior Center and says the enjoyment she observes in her students while working in her classes is very rewarding.

“That’s why I do it. It means so much to them,” she said.

This grumpy but fun pumpkin is a sample of the ceramic work done at the Mentor Senior Center. (Jean Bonchak — for The News-Herald)

The 63-year-old resident mentor started as a class participant about five years ago, but it wasn’t long before mastering the skill led her to become a teacher. Evidence of her interest in the art form came during a recent visit to the senior center as she carefully opened layers of bubble wrap to
discover dozens of unique pieces while explaining their distinctive details.

Still in the studio, but awaiting an artist’s brush and baking in the ovens on site, is a vast assortment of unfinished animals, trees, ornaments and more neatly lined up on shelves. Williams noted that she sometimes helps students combine figures, such as flowers and birdhouses, to create custom effects.

“If you see something, you can do it. There is no limit,” she said. “I break a lot of rules and instructions. We are always discovering new techniques.

The Mentor Senior Center ceramic class takes place on Wednesday mornings. An evening class should start soon. (Jean Bonchak — for The News-Herald).

An emphasis on customization and the use of varied methods ensures that each design is one of a kind.

“Some places you go, they all do the same things and you can’t tell them apart from each other,” she said. “Here, we are working on different projects.

Many who attend the class choose a project that, when completed, will become a special gift for someone. Pasta bowls, mugs and Christmas decorations are popular choices.

His frequent suggestion to think outside the box while working on a project has caused many students to marvel at the outcome of their efforts while providing them with a sense of pride.

“I adapt to the abilities of the person,” she says. “I push them to go beyond what they are capable of and if they don’t want to do it, great. But when they’ve tasted it, they’re hooked.

As a testament to the excellent quality of her students’ efforts, Williams proudly states that over the years dozens of entries have earned winning ribbons at the Lake County Fair. Along with creating ceramic designs, a sense of camaraderie helps make the class one of the most popular in the senior center.

“It’s like a family. All the different personalities…they work,” Williams said, adding that her classmates were staying in touch while unable to meet in person while the center was closed due to the local coronavirus.

Potlucks and holiday gatherings have become annual events. Williams and Mentor Senior Center Recreation Coordinator Dave Duricky are happy to see the buzz of activity once again at the site.

Sharon Williams, resident mentor, is a ceramics instructor at the Mentor Senior Center. (Jean Bonchak — for The News-Herald)

“It was slow at first,” Duricky said. “We didn’t know what to expect. But as each registration period rolls around, we get more and more people. They couldn’t wait to come back.

The number of fitness sessions continues to grow and an evening ceramics class will be added to the current daytime session in 2022. Williams encourages people to attend.

“Everyone is welcome to come and observe and see if it’s something they really enjoy,” she said. “You don’t have to be an artist. It’s very laid back. Everyone is having a good time.

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