It is never too early to begin your holiday shopping.
Just ask Tacoa Allen, 11, who will be in the sixth grade at Mead Hall Episcopal School this fall.
Tacoa, one of four youngsters who were taking a class on wire sculpture at the Aiken Center for the Arts last week, said she planned to use some of her creations as Christmas presents.
"We've made little people. We've made animals out of household utensils," she said. "I made a bird out of a beater."
This was the second Youth Art Studios class she has taken at the center this summer. The courses are offered to pupils entering grades five through nine. Tacoa, who also took an acrylics painting class, said she has been taking classes at the center "since the first art camp seven years ago."
She said clay sculpture was her favorite course, but she enjoyed the wire sculpture class as well.
"I like art, and wire sculpture is really neat," Tacoa said as she twisted a wire into a flower. "The only bad part is you get little cuts all over your fingers."
Equasia Woodward, 11, a rising fifth-grader at North Aiken Elementary School, took her flower outside to spray paint it.
Equasia, who likes to draw and paint, said this was the first time she had worked with wire.
"I thought it would be fun, and it is," she said.
She also said she would give away some of her work as gifts.
Equasia also planned to display some pieces at the art center. She proudly pointed out her wire sculpture of two people, whom she named Joe and Mary, that was displayed on a shelf.
Alex Rogers, 14, who will enter the ninth grade at South Aiken High School this fall, received his enrollment in the class as a birthday gift from his grandmother.
"It's unique in a good way," he said of the medium. "It's fun to mess with the wire and everything."
All of the students will have some of their work exhibited at the center through July, said Kate Schoenke , a University of Georgia art student who was teaching the class as a summer intern.
"None of them have worked with wire before, so they're just getting used to the medium," she said.
The instructor watched as Alex and Ashley Reid, 14, a rising ninth-grader at Aiken High School, worked on free-form garden sculptures.
"This one's more about composition and shape," Ms. Schoenke said of the free-form project.
She said the students also would make wind chimes and mobiles.
"They're more about balance and the sounds they make and problem-solving with new mediums," said Ms. Schoenke. "I just want them to learn that they could do things they didn't expect they could do with things they've never used before."
Ashley, who also took the acrylics class, said the art camps gave her something to do in the summer.
"It's really easy to pick up," she said. "It's just fun to express your ideas through the sculpture and the wire."
Reach Betsy Gilliland at (803) 648-1395, ext. 113, or firstname.lastname@example.org.