EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the first in a series on classes and their instructors for seniors in the area.
Sharon Williams’ wide-ranging art boasts of working with custom vehicle lettering, holiday and floral design, landscaping and a myriad of other creative channels.
But it’s the art of ceramics that tops her list of favorites.
Williams teaches the craft at the Senior Mentor Center and says the enjoyment she sees in her students while working in her classes is very gratifying.
“That’s why I’m doing it. It means so much to them, ”she said.
Resident Mentor, 63, started out as a participant in the class about five years ago, but it didn’t take long for a mastery of the skill to lead her to become a teacher. Evidence of her interest in the art form surfaced 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.
Also inside the studio, but awaiting an artist’s brush and firing in the on-site ovens, is a vast assortment of animals, trees, ornaments and more carefully lined up on shelves. Williams noted that she sometimes helps students combine figures, such as flowers and birdhouses, to create personalized effects.
“If you see something, you can do it. There is no limit, ”she said. “I break a lot of rules and guidelines. We are always discovering new techniques.
The 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 made many students marvel at the results of their efforts while also giving them a sense of pride.
“I adapt to the person’s abilities,” she says. “I push them to go beyond what they are capable of and if they don’t want to do it, so much the better. But when they taste it, they get hooked.
Testifying to the excellent quality of her students’ efforts, Williams proudly states that over the years dozens of entries have won winning ribbons at the Lake County Fair. Along with the creation of ceramic designs, a sense of camaraderie helps rank the class among the most popular in the senior center.
“It’s like a family. All the different personalities… they work, ”Williams said, adding that classmates kept in touch without being able to meet in person during the center’s closure due to the local coronavirus.
Potluck sharing and vacation get-togethers have become annual events. Williams and Senior Mentor Center Recreation Coordinator Dave Duricky are happy to see the site come alive again.
“It was slow at the start,” said Duricky. “We didn’t know what to expect. But with each registration period, we got more and more people. They couldn’t wait to come back.
The number of fitness sessions continues to increase and an evening ceramics class will be added to the current day session in 2022. Williams is encouraging people to visit.
“Everyone is welcome to watch and see if this is something they really like,” she said. “You don’t have to be an artist. It’s very relaxed. Everyone is having a good time.