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Clay Café Continues Art Outreach

Hutchison Elementary students ‘experience the art first hand.’

Grace H. Wolf chats with a 3rd grade student in Jean Peretzman's class. The Council for the Arts of Herndon (CAH) funds Wolf's art outreach program.

Grace H. Wolf chats with a 3rd grade student in Jean Peretzman's class. The Council for the Arts of Herndon (CAH) funds Wolf's art outreach program. Photo by Ryan Dunn

On Nov. 6, third grade students at Hutchison Elementary School in Herndon had the opportunity to paint pre-fired ceramic plates in the school’s theatre room. This was possible due to an art outreach program coordinated by the Herndon Council for the Arts and Clay Café Studios of Chantilly, Inc.

"It was 152 kids in total, all third graders who were present at school that day," Clay Café owner Grace Han Wolf said. "These pieces keep for a long time, it is something they can keep for a long time. They are really proud of them." A member of the Herndon Town Council, Wolf previously served as President of the Council for the Arts of Herndon.

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Third grade student Beatriz Saenz paints a plate. Approximately 152 kids were able to participate in the day's art outreach at Hutchison Elementary School.

Jean Peretzman, resident of Arlington and third grade teacher at Hutchison Elementary, was also participating in the art function. "Students here normally have an hour a week of art related activities," Peretzman said. "I thought it was really great for the kids. It is one of the experiences the kids will remember and make a lasting impression on their minds. It was really wonderful."

"We started the program about four years ago and we were talking about making art more accessible to kids in the community," said Wolf. "We realized we needed to bring art to them and we got the idea of bringing art to the community in the programs. We wanted kids to experience the art firsthand."

Wolf was able to begin the ceramic outreach program at Hutchison Elementary after successfully networking with Hutchison Elementary staff including Principal Judy Baldwin and Administrative Assistant Mary Ann Hall. "Grace [Wolf] is the one who came to us," Hall said. "The program has been a tremendous success. The nice thing is what you create is your own, they are experiencing art in itself. It has been a positive experience all the way around," Hall said.

The Council for the Arts of Herndon (CAH) funds the entire program, with Grace Wolf and the Clay Cafe providing the labor. "Art should be affordable and accessible," Wolf said. "Art should not be reserved for special occasions, it should be something accessible daily."

"We do hope to continue with the program, as CAH feels strongly that the arts not only provide developmental benefits to children, but also enhance their collaborative and non-verbal communications skills," wrote Director of the Council for the Arts of Herndon Signe Friedrichs in an email statement.

Located at 13894 Metrotech Dr., Chantilly, Clay Cafe Studios is a do-it-yourself craft outlet where kids and adults can purchase a variety of pre-made pottery pieces and then customize them with glazes and other materials. A flat $6 studio fee covers paints, materials, glazing and firing. "I have not raised those prices in 12 years," said Wolf. "I have many regular customers, and we are very family-oriented."

To learn more about Clay Café, visit their website at http://www.claycafechantilly.com.