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Ceramic lab produces "Best of show"

Irene Welch works intently on her newest project, a castle for her granddaughter

As you enter the ceramic lab in the basement of the Senior Citizen's center in downtown Price you swear you were in Santa's workshop. There were about 15 seniors carefully painting and designing their works.

You don't see these types of ceramics in many stores. Images of Indians, castles, animals, even Snow White and most of her dwarfs were among the hundreds of ceramic pieces that filled the long tables.

These men and women, all part of the Price Senior Citizen Center, gather four days a week to work on their masterpieces. And masterpieces they are, because every entry from their program won blue ribbons at the Carbon County fair recently. The big winner was Irene Welch, who won the "best of show" for her Old Victorian Father Christmas, a beautiful version of a large Australian Santa Claus.

Welch spends almost all day Monday through Thursday downstairs with her friends.

"This is the best therapy for seniors that there is," she says, adding, "we are like family."

There are literally hundreds of greenware pieces on hand to choose from. The greenware is ordered in and kilns located at the center are used to bake pieces anywhere from five to seven hours. There are several firings done on each piece depending on the different finishes desired.

"This program has been a lifesaver for me," says Irene, who lost her husband two years ago, adding, "we laugh and talk and help each other through the tough times."

Most of the work ends up as gifts for family or friends or beautifully decorates the senior's homes. Irene is currently working on a couple of projects, including a large castle for her granddaughter and a nativity scene that she has been working on for months, for her daughter for Christmas.

The amount of work done each day depends on Irene's mood. She explained that often she can complete an entire piece in a day or two, but like the nativity scene where there are multiple pieces, she works on them as she feels, over a period of months.

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