HAMMOND — Budding artists had the opportunity to try their hand at sculpture Saturday at the South Shore Convention and Visitors Authority Welcome Center.

Youngsters molded and formed lumps of malleable clay into shapes including wildlife, flowers, and even a life-sized head as they worked in the shadow of lead artist Oscar Leon and his co-sculpture Jessica Lopresti, who themselves were working on the clay form of the character “Flick” from the movie “A Christmas Story” for the winter Explore the South Shore event hosted by the SSCVA.

“Events like this are spectacular. We want to engage everyone,” Leon said.

Trina Milan, 10, of Munster, Grace Newman, 7, of Hammond and Aurora Alvarez Hanson, 8, of Schererville were busy adding and molding clay on a mold of a head. The girls said the sculpture began as a man, but has since been changed into a woman with earrings and a ponytail.

“I’m working on the face,” Milan said as she worked on details around the eyes.

The girls were among of group of youngsters who gathered at the table to make small clay projects they could take home and work on the larger stationary head.

“It feels really good. It’s not every day you get to touch clay and build with it,” Alvarez Hanson said.

Speros Batistatos, SSCVA president and CEO, said events like Explore the South Shore are designed to be interactive and introduce local residents to the arts and culture that draws in visitors to the region.

“We need to make sure our communities know about our assets,” he said.

Last year the SSCVA commissioned the bronze statue of “Flick” licking the flagpole, a classic scene from native son Jean Sheppard’s film, from Timeless Creations, the Fine Art Studio of Rotblatt Amrany. The studio is behind the iconic bronze statues of Michael Jordan, Frank Thomas, Harry Carey in Chicago and locally, Orville Redenbacher, who sits on a bench in Valparaiso.

Leon and Lopresti brought the clay Flick to the welcome center where they worked on facial details and talked to children and grown-ups alike about the process of creating the bronze statue, which will ultimately be placed tongue-to-a-flagpole outside the welcome center.

The finished statue will be unveiled later this year as part of the SSCVA’s 30th anniversary celebration.

“I want people’s expectations to be big,” Leon said. “I want you to expect a lot and you are still going to be impressed.”