Social Service Workshops

The funding for social service workshops is generally provided through arts grants received by The Pottery. However, social service agencies are welcome to book a workshop privately as well. These workshops allow participants of various social service agencies the chance to explore topics such as identity and personal struggle while working as a group to make a beautiful art piece. For more information or to book a social service workshop, please email  

What They Are

The Pottery offers large group pottery workshops for social service organizations that aim to excite and inspire the participants. These workshops can be tailored to many different organizations such as healthcare providers, shelters, adult learning centres, community service organizations and more.

The idea behind this workshop is that the participants determine what the project will look like. They decide the theme and they choose the final product. The Pottery will simply supply the materials, the instruction and the encouragement. The only non negotiable element is that the products must be made using clay. Usually the goal is for the participants to work together to produce a permanent instillation of their devising. This could be a clay quilt, a collection of masks, a multiple part sculpture or any other conceivable outcome.

This workshop can be a one time event, or be expanded into a multi faceted series of workshops and meetings designed to fully engage the participants and explore the chosen themes. 

The Basic Workshop

The basic workshop involves a brief discussion with participants of the themes being explored. This would be followed by a discussion of technical considerations in mask making, followed by participant concept sketches. Participants will then be encouraged to share the concepts represented in their mask sketches with the group in an effort to refine their ideas. A mask making demonstration would follow.

At this point, the participants will produce their masks with help from our instructor. When completed, the masks will be brought to the studio of The Pottery to be fired (heated) before being returned to the host organization within three weeks. The basic workshop lasts four hours.

Please note that any workshop involving themes that may require trained support will require staff from the funding organization present at all times. This may require art therapists, psychologists, psychiatrists or others. The entire workshop lasts approximately four hours.

The Expanded Workshop

In order to expand depth of understanding and increase the scope of artistic exploration, additional time can be spent developing chosen concepts guiding the mask making. This can include:

  • A writing exercise outlining each participant's reasoning behind their mask: for example what it portrays and why.

  • A response sheet for each mask containing the reactions and thoughts of the other participants to each of the masks and their writings.

  • A photo record of the masks, the participants and the process.

  • A journal containing a photo of each participant and their mask, their preliminary sketch and/or their explanatory writing.

  • A culminating party / exhibition with handmade invitations.

An Example of a Social Service Workshop: Mask Making

Goal: To help participants explore an event, personal challenge and/or strength through the creation of a clay representative mask. The focus of this workshop is much more than the creation of an artistic mask. It is to encourage participants to courageously and openly explore aspects of themselves. It can be a celebration of success and strength and/or an exploration of a life challenge. "Central to group art is the healing capacity of the artistic process, the release of unconscious material which, when consciously assimilated, can lead to the release of creative potential for the individual…The physical nature of making can contribute to a release and relief of tension. Group members also react physically to the art objects of other members. It is an extraordinarily powerful moment..."(C.Case and T. Dalley 2006)


The basic four hour workshop costs $500.00 plus HST and $4.50 per participant materials fee. This fee includes preparation, on site workshop delivery and post workshop studio time. Please contact The Pottery for the costs associated with additional workshop elements.