Mascoma Students Craft Ornaments for Capitol Display
Art teacher Chris Morse, left, and his son Barrett are seen during an after-school art class at Mascoma Valley Regional High School in Canaan, N.H. on October 16, 2013. The class is making 24 ornaments for the White House, two of which will hang on the official White House Christmas tree. (Valley News - Elijah Nouvelage) Purchase photo reprints »
Art teacher Chris Morse holds a ceramic dancer and snowflake at Mascoma Valley Regional High School in Canaan, N.H. on October 16, 2013. His art class is making 24 ornaments for the White House, two of which will hang on the official White House Christmas tree. (Valley News - Elijah Nouvelage) Purchase photo reprints »
Rachael Piotte, 15, displays a clay relief of a nature scene at Mascoma Valley Regional High School in Canaan, N.H. on October 16, 2013. The relief will be fired and then painted and inserted into a plastic globe to be hung on a Christmas tree. The art class is making 24 ornaments for the White House, two of which will hang on the official White House Christmas tree. (Valley News - Elijah Nouvelage) Purchase photo reprints »
Brandishing a string of wire, Rachael Piotte sliced through a brick of pale brown molding clay, taking a smaller chunk in her hand and bringing it to a table in the Mascoma Valley Regional High School art room.
“You don’t want to make it too thick,” Piotte said, pressing the clay into a plaster mold she spent a week crafting. “But you need to have enough.”
After working with the clay a bit more, she removed it from its mold, revealing a deer standing in a patch of grass. It joined several other circular discs on the table.
Soon, one of Piotte’s molds will find its way into a clear plastic ball, a Christmas ornament that will be sent to Washington, D.C. at the end of the month. Each state and territory gets its own official tree, and nearly all of the 24 ornaments completed by Mascoma students will be placed on New Hampshire’s. One of the ornaments will be chosen as the state’s representative on the National Christmas Tree in the middle of the display on the Ellipse, according to Shelly Angers, a spokeswoman for the New Hampshire Department of Cultural Resources.
Christopher Morse, Mascoma’s art teacher, is working with a rotating cast of students to finish the ornaments before the end-of-month deadline, helping them craft scenes and moments during classes as well as at the weekly after-school art club.
“I haven’t had any problem thinking about this as a collaborative project,” Morse said at last Wednesday’s art club, showing off ornaments both completed and in progress.
One had a miniature ice fisherman standing on a white disc — Morse said a fish would eventually be placed underneath the ice. Another was a view of a colonial-style building that, when rotated, is revealed in all four seasons. A third, created by sophomore Caelis Barsaleau, combined 2-D and 3-D by displaying several painted fish on the outside while filling the inside with a water-like, bluish-green fabric.
“Originally the fish was supposed to be under the ice-fishing one,” Barsaleau said, but he soon changed course, deciding to paint more on the outside of a separate ornament.
Morse said he encouraged the students to stick to a New Hampshire theme in their creations, naturally, but other than that championed creativity. And his students have shown that, he said, mixing various disciplines from clay to paint to metalwork to diorama-style scenes that use organic materials such as lichen.
“They have no problem with the whole notion of epitomizing New Hampshire,” Morse said. “The exciting part is seeing the vision that kids have brought to it.”
Jon Wolper can be reached at email@example.com or 603-727-3242.