Ode To The Elementary School Art Ashtray

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This post may be a little dated to some readers but to many of us we have fond memories of the lovely clay art projects in elementary school circa 1980. It was a different time and what flew then would sure to crash hard today. I kind of miss that naivate’. Simple.

Around the beginning of December the art teacher’s project for the kids was always geared toward Christmas presents for the folks. I am not sure if they do that now with the whole “Christmas is offensive” campaign that seems to exponentially increase each year. But back in my day, parents always knew their tax dollars would yield intelligent kids and some sort of ornament each Christmas. The real bonus would be a clay thing. I say clay thing because many parents got just that; a thing.

Ball Art Room

I remember these projects would always give me delusions of grandeur and at the end of it I would be the envy of every kid as I brought home the most beautiful clay thing my parents had ever seen. Of course being a no talent ass clown grounded me within the first few minutes of art class. Clay was not the medium for me.

modelingclay-main_FullI really can’t remember how long this project lasted but I believe it was a couple of weeks. Each day we would retrieve our work in progress that was wrapped in cheese cloth from the fridge and start on destroying what we had done the previous day. There were not many guidelines for what the final product would be. If you had an artistic inkling then perhaps the folks would receive a pot for a plant or a nice plate with a hand print in it. If you were like me and struggled to form any sort of shape they got an ashtray.

pottery1It was a cool time when a kid could express his or her love through artistic expression resulting in a carcinogenic ash receptacle. There is no way that shit would fly today. Under that dump-in-a-jar plan for zero tolerance I am sure a kid who made an ashtray would be suspended and child services would be called ensuring a debate on Foxnews’ Kelley’s Court. (That woman sucks) No, kids don’t make them like they used to.

Well, the process would draw to a close soon enough. Once the shape was made it would bake. Then you painted it and glazed it and that usually sealed the deal for me. It wasn’t just shit but colored shit after that. But by that time I was just happy to be done with it. Of course the teacher had to grade it. No matter what I got the elementary equivalent of a B which was VG for “very good”.

img_1773Don’t be fooled, the picture above was not done by me. Actually this one is pretty fucking good. It is far less bumpy and minus the fingerprints. The only way to to tell the difference between my ashtray and petrified orangutan shit was the fact it had a convenient dent in the middle; perfect for putting out a cowboy killer.

On Christmas morning I would give them the ashtray with a little trepidation because even a little kid knows the difference between art and deification. But my parents always looked at it as if I gave them gold. Today I really look back at that and know how much they love me. They didn’t even smoke.

A few years ago I found my ashtray. It was in the table top Nativity set and baby Jesus was sleeping in it. I kid you not. But don’t tell him, he doesn’t need to know it’s an ashtray.