Faces of Dryden: Resurrecting an ancient art


The students in Elizabeth Rechtin’s Ceramics A class are just half way through their yearlong study of the design, history, and techniques used in this millennia-old art form. In construction, they learn the traditional methods of pinched forms, coil and slab building, and throwing clay on the wheel. They learn a variety of firing and decoration techniques, as well as the history of these methods.

During a visit to the Ceramics A class during the last week of the first semester of the year, several students showed their work and a new-to-them technique. Jenna W. described the various construction techniques she used to accomplish her project, including making various pinch-formed containers, partially drying them to a stage called “leather hard,” then using liquid clay called slip to join the pieces together. “We use this to make animals or structures,” Jenna explained. Due to the many steps in this process, it may take up to two weeks to complete the construction of a piece.

The unique method that drew me into the class was a process called milk firing. Jenna described the process in detail, but it became entirely clear when I stepped outside with Peter Graney and Madison Tucker to see them give it a try. As Jenna explained, a fired piece, called bisque ware, is brushed with milk in the areas where the artist wants to apply color. Then the piece is put in a pot with strips of newspaper, which direct heat to the milk-washed areas. “The carbon in the milk burns, providing a limited range of colors, depending on the amount of milk and the amount of heat.” The finished pieces in the classroom sported light and dark caramel browns, smoky greys, and blacks.

Outside of the classroom, upturned trashcans provided a fireproof stage for pots of metal or ceramic where the firing took place. The students placed their prepared pieces in the pot, lit a match, and voila, milk firing. Rechtin explained that she tries to give her students a variety of historical experiences with the medium they’re working with. The milk firing technique is an introduction to how various glaze and firing methods were developed. Last year, Rechtin took her students to the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia to see the Chinese Terra Cotta Warriors. These extensions put the students work into the context of history, giving it a place and purpose outside of the classroom.

In other art news, 15 students from the Dryden High School Art department had 24 submissions recognized in this year’s Scholastic Art Awards. Gold Key Award Winners include Dylan Bell for Photography, Tennyson Sprout and Joseph Tordel for Drawing and Illustration and Trey Tyler for Digital Art. Silver Key Award Winners include Naomi Cator-Szymanski and Tennyson Sprout for Drawing and Illustration, Rylin Green, Jacob Greenwood and Trey Tyler for Photography, Spencer Strickland for Film and Animation. An awards ceremony and reception will be held on Sunday, Jan. 27 at the Clemens Center in Elmira to recognize the artists.

Thanks from the Freeville Board of Trustees
The Freeville Village Board of Trustees shared the following note of gratitude with village residents:

As we begin our 132nd year as the only incorporated municipality in the U.S. named Freeville, the Board of Trustees would like to thank the many volunteers who help make our village the special place that it is.

First and foremost, we would like to thank the many dedicated volunteers associated with Freeville’s WB Strong Fire Company. The wonderful men and women of the FFD have undertaken many hours of training in preparation for dealing with life-threatening emergencies in our community, and are always at the ready when a village resident or nearby neighbor is in need. The Board is deeply grateful for their service to the community.

Freeville also benefits from the contributions of members of two standing volunteer boards, which play vital roles in our village government (freevilleny.org/village-government/village-boards/). Current Planning Board members Jim, Brian, Tom, Justin and Stephanie have devoted countless hours to updating our Land Use and Development Code, and to laying the groundwork for the recent establishment of a commercial zone in the four corners area, while taking primary responsibility for ensuring that new commercial and residential development in Freeville is compatible with the goals set forth in our comprehensive plan. While the Zoning Board of Appeals does not need to meet regularly, current members Arlene, David, Kristen, Annette, and Michael are prepared to rule on applications for zoning variances whenever necessary.

The efforts of the Freeville Community Council do much to enhance the quality of life in the Village. Jean, Stephanie, Michelle, Heather, Arlene, and others organize several well-attended social and cultural events each year, and the group serves as a conduit for United Way funding for Freeville’s Summer Recreation Program and our local Food Pantry.

Other formal and informal volunteer groups help make Freeville a great place to live. Members of the tree committee and the beautification group, neighborhood watch volunteers, food pantry workers, rail trail volunteers, 4H club organizers, farmers market vendors, and community gardeners all make important contributions without the expectation of compensation or recognition. Others take it upon themselves to help their neighbors in various ways: they plant flowers at the post office, pick up litter on the streets, shovel sidewalks and driveways for those unable to, and help maintain the trails and parks in our village.

Although Freeville is by far the smallest municipality in Tompkins County, the Village is blessed with an extraordinary level of civic-mindedness. The spirit of volunteerism among our citizens is truly gratifying and is a testament to the health, vitality, and cohesiveness of our community. We consider it a privilege and an honor to serve you.

The Village Board
David, Jason, Diana, Miles, Lotte


Village Caucuses
Village Elections will be held on Tuesday, March 19 this year. Caucuses to select candidates for Mayor and two Trustee positions will be held by both major parties in advance of the election. The Dryden Democratic party will hold its caucus at 7:30 p.m. on Monday, Jan. 28 at the Neptune Hose Company, 26 North Street. The Republican Party will caucus at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 29 in the first-floor board room of the Town of Dryden Department of Public Works, 61 East Main Street.

Town Rec Events
The Annual Father-Daughter Dance will be held from 6:30 to 8 p.m. at the Dryden Fire Hall. Girls ages 4 to 16 may attend with their special someone. Tickets are $15 per couple ($5 for each additional child) in advance, $20 at the door. Register at drydenrec.com


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