Hands on

Since 2009, the Seine-Saint-Denis County Council has been backing “la Culture et l’Art au Collège (CAC)”. This project is based to a large extent on the presence in class for several weeks (40h) of an artist or scientist whose mission is to engage the students in a process of research and creation. 


Tutors: Laurette Broll, Sophie Bohrt, Richard Colin, Philippe Paumier, Alexandra Tollet/ ceramicists

Project manager: Stéphane Coulaud


Objectives :
Ceramics has a very long and rich history, which it owes, in part, to a form of economy in its practices and techniques. This approach proposes reliving the heyday of ceramics by guiding the students through all the processes of the “arts of fire”: finding raw materials, preparing the clay, creating forms and above all, making a kiln to fire them.

Understanding the birth of a ceramic object begins with understanding the raw material – earth. For this, the students are invited to gather earth in the school grounds or close by. After cleaning it, the ceramist shows the students how to incorporate this earth into clays and stoneware. The material thus obtained is then used for a series of modelling exercises.  

Hands-on research
Using moulds (bowls, plates, etc.), a new sequence of modelling and research begins. Each student finds shapes for objects, masters the vocabulary and learns to find the right thickness (approximately 3 – 6mm thick). In the process, cups, plates, bowls and saucers are made, which are corrected and adjusted before beginning the drying process.

After drying, the pieces are decorated. Incisions, prints, stamps and enamel decoration are part of the vocabulary chosen by the students to adorn their ceramics. A second drying period is then necessary before firing. The firing stage was envisaged from the start as a shared process by each of the 5 participating classes.

In early June, the students took part in the construction of a specific paper kiln to fire their ceramics. Set up in the Georges-Valbon county park in La Courneuve, the Grand Feu was lit for 3 days from 6th – 8th June 2016. In total, almost 300 pieces (bowls, plates, cups, vases, etc.) were fired. Afterwards, the students presented their work in their respective schools. 

Acknowledgements: Hélène Lescure, Georges-Valbon county park, Direction de la Nature, des Paysages et de la Biodiversité, Conseil départemental de la Seine-Saint-Denis, Stéphanie Molinard, la Maison rouge


Outings (selection):

Participating schools:
- Class 6, Collège Joliot-Curie, Stains
- Class 4 Segpa, Collège Jean Jaurès, Saint-Ouen
- Class 4, Collège Jean Jaurès, Montreuil
- Class 3, Collège Georges Brassens, Sevran
- Class 3, Collège Pierre Sémard, Drancy



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