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Around Louisiana

Regional Reports from across the state complied and edited by jeanne frois

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Pottery Professor

In a recent article that appeared in the CENLA Focus, Professor Roy de Ville announced that LSU Alexandria would revive its former pottery class, lying dormant for a spell like bulbs sleeping through winter in the glorious days of a Central Louisiana spring. 

Reading professor de Ville’s history and description of pottery that was markedly underscored by an obvious passion and almost intimate knowledge of the skill, I was carried back to a visit to Jamestown, Va., years ago. On the sweeping banks of the James River, under rustling trees, I watched a local craftsman clad in colonial garb turn a potter’s wheel, pumping his legs like a bicycle rider while wet clay rose in his hands. The way he touched the clay and molded it could only be described as loving –– years later, in that now-classic scene in the movie Ghost, (accompanied by Bobby Hatfield’s incomparable version of “Unchained Melody”) creating pottery seemed the perfect metaphor for a love story. My journey that summer through colonial Virginia exposed me to quaint, whimsical oil jars and jugs of “redware” that is actually terra cotta, a porous clay with a high iron content that turns either orange, red or brown when fired. In my dining area and kitchen, small and large pitchers of grayish stoneware bearing the signature cobalt blue stripes have long held places of honor. Although I’ve been fearful that my own personal lack of coordination to pump a potter’s wheel and mold a creation at the same time would thwart me, pottery-making remains something I’ve always wanted to try. Professor de Ville’s explanation had me riveted.

What’s apparent is that de Ville has realized you have to love the clay to shape it.

His philosophy when it comes to teaching this ancient craft first involves a hands-on demonstration –– from that point on, the student is left to his own devices under the watchful eye of the master.

“Together the students and I will get into the clay and create ... you can’t learn it without watching and then doing it yourself,” he says. “The creation of pottery uses all the senses, all skills ... clay is soothing, responsive to the touch and highly creative.

“Spring is a great time to do pottery because of the accessibility of working outside,” he adds. “Many who study pottery go on to make it a lifelong activity. Many build their own wheels and use the creation of custom ceramics as a form of therapy.”  

According to the good professor, Central Louisianians are highly interested in ceramics, with many devotees who possess Newcomb, George Orr, Shearwater or Native American samples. Indeed, dotted throughout many plantation homes in Louisiana are samples of pottery reflective of olden days –– the refreshingly beautiful blue-and-white Delft from the Netherlands, redware, cobalt-striped stoneware or the riotous colorful beauty of Majolica.

Participants in the class will earn three hours of college credit or can simply audit the course for no credit. The course will begin in the spring and carry over into summer.

 Anyone interested in studying this ancient art should contact professor Roy de Ville at (318) 473-6449.


Raising the Roof

When the grape-like clusters of dangling purple wisteria are perfuming the sunny spring air of Cenla this April, Beauregard Parish will be buzzing with the sound of saws and the pounding of hammers. According to a report filed by Billie Jo Rassat of the Beauregard Daily News, Habitat for Humanity is moving into Beauregard Parish. With a campaign called “Let’s Build a Home” that began with the start of the new decade, the call to action for the community to assist the area’s needy has been issued.

“This is a collaborative effort for the community to come together ... as a whole to build a house for a family,” Julie Giordana, executive director of the Calcasieu area chapter of Habitat for Humanity, told the Beauregard Daily News.

Habitat for Humanity’s spark for this mission is rooted in divine inspiration –– they consider the new structures houses that God built in fellowship with believers who want to spread the wealth of his caring and
mercy by providing four decent walls wherein families can thrive and live up to their God-given potential.

The cost to build each three-bedroom, 1.5-bath house is around $80,000; Lowe’s Co. has given this chapter of Habitat for Humanity a grant that will allow them to raise $80,000. When the money is raised, Lowe’s will match with another $80,000.

Giordana invites other members of the community to participate by sponsoring an area. The cost of a sponsorship ranges from as little as $100 to as high as $10,000.

“You can collaborate an effort,” Giordana says. “Families can come together and contribute their money toward a sponsorship.”  

In order for applicants to qualify for a Habitat for Humanity home, they must be legal residents of the U.S. currently living in either temporary, overcrowded or substandard conditions; have an ability to repay the Habitat for Humanity loan; and, finally, freely agree to engage in “sweat equity.” This last qualification is defined by Habitat for Humanity as the beneficiaries’ willingness to assist in their homes’ construction and compete educational programs;
they must also assume responsibility for the upkeep of their homes and surroundings and make timely mortgage payments.

For more information, visit www.habitat.org or call
(337) 497-0129.  


Ring in the Newborn

Although she wasn’t due until a little later in January, expectant mom Christina Cavanaugh knew something was afoot when she began experiencing intermittent birth pangs on New Year’s Eve. Her husband, Zack, a former student at Florida State University who had foregone a trip to see Tim Tebow’s last game in the Sugar Bowl at New Orleans, wasn’t too surprised.

“We knew she was coming,” he says. “I just sat around watching football games.”

By midnight, the Pineville couple was on their way to Rapides General Medical Center in Alexandria. Just a little more than three hours later on the first day of the new decade, daughter Emma Catherine popped into the world, the first baby of the decade to be born in Rapides Parish. Weighing in at 7 pounds and 15 ounces, the new little Rapides native was also welcomed by sisters Paige Bruce and Payton Cavanaugh. Payton, according to her mom, is especially thrilled about the new addition to the family.

“She’s very excited and willing to help,” she told Bret McCormick
of the daily Town Talk.”I’m worried nobody elsewill be able to hold her.”

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