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Crafting Community: Fire Me Up Studios by Stacey Shapiro

I’m back with another Crafting Community post. This time, we were hosted by the wonderful artisans of Fire Me Up Studios in my library’s town.  A pottery studio along the lines of Paint Your Heart Out if you’ve ever been to one, they also teach pottery classes along with painting and other art forms. Crafting Community is funded thanks to the Union County Grant, a local grant that has provided the funds for my library to be able to pay our artists. Since this particular program required equipment, it was an outreach opportunity to host the program at Fire Me Up Studios.

We worked in their mudroom, a room in the back of the studio where there are rows of potter’s wheels waiting for the students. We had six students sign up, and a friendly potter from Fire Me Up led the class. She taught us how to literally throw it on to the potter’s wheel so it would stick and be safe, and then demonstrated the several steps we needed to turn our clay into a usable bowl, cup, or pot. My hands were full of clay, so I couldn’t take process photos, but I can recreate what we were taught.

Each student threw a slab of clay we had warmed up by rolling into a ball onto our potter’s wheel. We shaped it into a cone, and then pushed it down into a hockey puck-like shape. This is where working with the clay became more difficult and the instructor had to move around to each of our potter’s wheels to help us individually. The more you work with the clay, the more fragile it becomes as well and we had to be careful not to overwork it. On my second piece, I dug down too hard to make an impression into the clay and ended up with a piece that had no bottom, which is far worse than a soggy bottom on the Great British Baking Show. The instruction, however, was great, and each participant ended up with two pieces. Fire Me Up let us choose our paint colors and we would be back to pick them up in three weeks’ time after two firings and painting.

Teens were eager to learn the new skill and  were mostly receptive during the class. Although there was a lot of confusion during the more complicated steps of pottery making, each teen made something that they will be able to pick up from the studio and take home. Offering classes like this outside of what they might be able to do in art classes provides new and exciting opportunities for our patrons, and hopefully creates a lasting relationship between the library and local businesses.

The only unfortunate thing in this class is that it isn’t easily replicable in other libraries. However, if you have a local pottery studio, make sure to reach out to them! We are, as always, grateful to Union County for the grant that has made this program possible.



Stacey Shapiro is a teen librarian in Cranford, New Jersey, a cat mom, and a BTS fan. She was a 2019 ALA Emerging Leader and is currently serving on the Printz 2020 committee. When she has any free time, she’s playing Breath of the Wild on the Switch.

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