Veterans find ceramics as a stress reliever

Ceramics instructor Steve Dilley demonstrates how to use the ceramic wheel. (Anibal Santos/Lariat)

Ceramics instructor Steve Dilley demonstrates how to use the ceramic wheel. (Anibal Santos/Lariat)

The Saddleback College Veterans Art Project offers veterans access and resources to the Ceramic Studio free of charge.

The program is designed to help combat veterans and families looking for a way to reduce the stress related to trauma.

“Being able to explore different things is also a way to reduce stress and just be able to help them make emotional, psychological and physical adjustment from being in the military to civilian life,” said Dr. Rebecca Morgan.

Dr. Morgan is an onsite VETS counselor in the ceramic studio.

“The program is open to any veterans from any era, for the veterans, their spouses and their adult dependents. Counseling is also another component we offer here at Saddleback College,” Morgan said.

The program is coordinated by ceramics instructor Steve Dilley.

Dilley, who helped initiate the program, credits former USC ceramist instructor Glen Lukens for influencing him on the idea.

“Back when I was an undergrad student, I was doing research on a guy named Glen Lukens,” Dilley said. “Lukens talked about having WWII veterans coming in with shell shock. He would give them a place to work and sure enough after a while of people coming in and after doing ceramics for while, they weren’t shell shocked anymore they would go on and do other things.”

Dilley added he admired the concept of ceramics being used as a form of therapy, a craft that is simple to learn and fun.

“Everyone can do ceramics,” Dilley said. “It’s fun, relaxing, and enjoyable, a great social activity.”

Students too confirmed the relaxing effects of ceramics.

“I just loved it,” said Coast Guard Reserve Rebecca Schott, 33, whose husband is a veteran. “It is so satisfying to work with something and make it how ever I want it to be.”

James St. Onge, a 27-year-old business major, found it truly helped reduce stress.

“It’s good because it’s a good stress reliever and it gives you something to do,” Onge said “It just changes you. When we get out of the military it’s just school, school, but this is good departure from that.”

The free class is held Friday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the Fine Arts building, Room 209. It is free to all veterans and their spouses as well as their adult dependents.