Wintertime Saturdays in Chicago can seem endless, when the weather traps us indoors and kids are bouncing off the walls. Encouraging my kids to get creative and make something of their own is not the problem, but the mess they make and supplies they need seem overwhelming. So on a recent dreary Saturday, my 9-year-old and I dropped in on a Side-By-Side art class at Lillstreet Art Center.
Lillstreet's children's studio (only a small part of the massive art complex) immediately invites you to get creative. Books, supplies and finished projects line the room. The class quickly filled with families.
My son and I were the only first-timers working with clay, but it didn't matter. Our instructor reminded everyone about the basics of molding and building with clay, then helped each group. Soon enough, we were all helping each other.
It was great to see children and adults all working independently, yet sharing this experience. Students (even one-timers) are encouraged to stretch their imaginations and their capabilities to make multiple projects. My son was determined to create a udon soup bowl and spoon so we practiced our clay flipping until we were able to use one of the studio's molds and then crafted our own spoon. We even had time to add decorative touches with glaze and paint.
The true test of our abilities will come during the firing phase in the kiln. Because there is a wait between the class and pick-up date, our success is unknown at press time. But it almost seems beside the point, as we spent a wonderful few hours together learning and creating.
Side-By-Side sessions are held most Saturdays for $10 per person. At least one adult must sign up with children. Advanced registration is recommended as space is limited.
Alena Murguia lives in Berwyn, Illinois along with her husband and three growing sons.
See more of Alena's stories here.