Pottery tent proves popular with those at Children's Festival

Kaitlyn Biggs, 12, of Medford, learns to shape a vase on a pottery wheel by Emma Fenn at the Children's Festival Saturday in Jacksonville. 7/7/12 Denise Baratta

It took three years, but Rebecca Biggs' two girls finally scored a spot at the Jacksonville Children's Festival pottery tent.

"It took so long because this booth is so popular," Biggs said, as her daughter Kaitlyn worked a ball of clay into shape on a pottery wheel.

The Children's Festival's 46th event saw parents and their kids brave upper 90-degree temperatures for a day of art and learning at the Britt Grounds.

Jan Houston, a volunteer and chairwoman of the festival, said the pottery tent's four wheels rarely stop spinning from the time the gates open until they close.

"We only have the four wheels and we can only make about 16 pieces per hour," Houston said. "We wish we could get everyone in."

Emma Fenn, a Southern Oregon University graduate, worked with a steady stream of kids throughout the hot afternoon.

Fenn was introduced to pottery making by friends working out of Ashland's Thrown Stone Studio on Oak Street.

"I am an artistic person and I really love kids," Fenn said. "That's why I'm here."

Fenn patiently walked Kaitlyn Biggs through the fashioning of a vase.

"I want to get it as tall as I can get it," Kaitlyn said before the wheel started spinning.

"We can do that," Fenn said. "But what we need to do now is slam this clay down on the wheel."

Kaitlyn enthusiastically took the cue and heaved the chunk of gray clay onto the wheel.

Kaitlyn's ambition paid off, but not without a few stops and starts to repair damage caused by errant fingers. Her vase was the tallest among the finished pieces that were placed in the sun to dry.

Kaitlyn's mother was proud of her creation.

"I like that they actually get to make something that we can keep," Biggs said.

Houston said the pieces took a couple of days to dry, afterward they are ready to be painted.

The pottery wheels were provided by Sacred Heart School and the clay came from Southern Oregon Clay Distributors.

The festival featured other booths hosting animal exhibits, face painting and science-based games.

However, as the temperature climbed to a high of 97 degrees a large mister placed in the center of the action became the popular draw.

Reach reporter Chris Conrad at 541-776-4471 or email cconrad@mailtribune.com.

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