Clay workshop helps mold parents into centered beings

Staff Writer

 Board of Education member Lea Lanton, left, and Colleen Walker, treasurer for Campbell Elementary School PTO, work on their clay creations. Board of Education member Lea Lanton, left, and Colleen Walker, treasurer for Campbell Elementary School PTO, work on their clay creations. METUCHEN — As the school year comes to a close and families settle into a summer routine, the Campbell Elementary School PTO sent parents off at its final meeting with the tools to mold their upcoming family time for the better.

Campbell PTO President Audrey Hausser said she wanted the last meeting to be memorable for all parents. She enlisted the help of Linda LaStella, owner of Metuchen-based ceramic studio Earthsongs, to conduct a workshop called “In Touch … with Ourselves, Our Children, the Earth: A Workshop for Parents.”

“This workshop is an opportunity to reflect on this year’s life experiences and family ties,” Hausser said.

Approximatey 30 parents participated in an hour-long series of creative exercises using clay at the May 19 workshop. LaStella said she was “delighted” to share the experience with the parents.

“This is not about creating a work of art; this is about using clay as another element of creation that can help us learn more about our human selves,” LaStella said.

Campbell Elementary School Principal Edward C. Porowski said the workshop gave participants a “therapeutic” experience.

“It was a renewing, centering and revitalizing workshop for all participants,” he said

Jirapon Rader-Chambers, parent of a Campbell School student, explained that LaStella first asked participants to break off a small piece of clay and let it “guide” them toward forming it into any shape.

“We were instructed to place it toward the center of the table,” Rader-Chambers said. “If the piece that we created represented something joyful, then we held that feeling in our heart. And if it was from something stressful, then it is away from us while we worked with our clay.”

LaStella then guided the parents to close their eyes while sitting in a relaxed position in their chairs. With soft music playing in the background, she took them through a guided meditation before they began working with their clay pieces.

“As we worked on this, Linda spoke about how our lives can be frenzied,” Rader-Chambers said. “Parents are getting pulled in many directions. We are always at our best when we can be centered and relaxed.”

LaStella then guided participants to work with the clay and see what it wanted to become, Rader-Chambers said. She asked the parents to try not to think about the outcome, but to let the clay become what it was meant to be.

After the workshop, LaStella took the completed projects back to her studio to fire them so parents could collect them at a later date and always have a concrete reminder of their experience.

“I believe the keepsake parents created in this workshop will be treasured in the participating families for years to come,” Hausser said.

Porowski said the event had a great turnout.

“I could tell from the facial expressions of the parents that they were deeply moved by what Linda was saying,” he said. “ … I think that the message of calmness, reflection of one’s life experiences and love of family was conveyed.”

Rader-Chambers was certainly moved.

“This experience was extremely relaxing and helped the parents to remember to work toward being centered — especially to not forget to be playful,” Rader-Chambers said.