Art Enthusiasts Get Hands-On Experience in UMO Pottery Class

Art Enthusiasts Get Hands-On Experience in UMO Pottery Class

MOUNT OLIVE- Frank Grubbs, a ceramics instructor at UMO, recently led a six-week pottery class called “Finding Your Way in Clay.”  Participants had varying levels of experience and learned different techniques such as hand building, coil building, and wheel throwing.

Casey Necci, a graphic designer at UMO, took the class as an opportunity to explore art in a different way from her day-to-day tasks. “My favorite part of the class was making something with my hands,” she said. “As a graphic designer, I work on the computer eight hours a day, so getting off of the computer, but still being creative was a lot of fun.”

UMO’s Director of Health Services Jo Morgan signed up for the course with no experience, only an eagerness to learn. “It’s just been so much fun,” Morgan said. “My favorite part is the anticipation of what it’s going to look like when it comes out of the kiln.” She made most of her pieces for her five-year-old granddaughter.

The participants created items such as bowls, plates, cups, mugs, and figurines. Each project was very individualized as the participants learned new techniques and focused on what they wanted to make.

“The purpose of this course was to give participants an opportunity to explore clay as an art medium,” Grubbs explained. “It was intentionally unstructured; we kept the classes small so that they could go in the direction they wanted to go. I served more as a guide than an instructor.”

The class also learned the pinch pot method, slab construction, glazing, sanding, sculpting, firing in the kiln, and making different textures in the clay. Some students even used cookie cutters to make their pieces.

Cathy Wallace Crumpler, a UMO alumna and former art teacher, was excited to learn the class was offered. “I had previously done a little bit of pottery, but I found it more challenging now,” she shared. “I’m a hands-on person. I like to make things.”

Many of the students shared that they would like to take the class again, and Grubbs hopes to hold another session next summer as well.

All levels of experience are welcome; Grubbs emphasized that this course is for anyone in the Mount Olive community who wants to experience clay.

The advice Grubbs would give to those who may be interested in taking the next pottery class is to “dive in and get your hands in the mud!”

The University of Mount Olive is a private institution rooted in the liberal arts tradition with defining Christian values. The University, sponsored by the Convention of Original Free Will Baptists, has locations in Mount Olive, New Bern, Wilmington, Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, Research Triangle Park, Washington, Jacksonville, in Smithfield at Johnston Community College, and online. For more information, visit

Class participants pictured glazing pieces of their pottery.

Instructor Frank Grubbs talks with one of the class participants about glaze color options.

Cathy Crumpler is pictured glazing a piece of her pottery.