If you were unable to pick up one of his handcrafted bowls made available for donation to a local food bank, potter Bruce Nyeste hopes to have another 500 opportunities available soon.
In late April, the owner of Sorrento’s Mud, Sweat and Tears Stoneware and Porcelain Pottery decided to use his downtime resulting from COVID-19, to create 100 unique, colourful bowls which were sold at DeMille’s Farm Market in Salmon Arm for a suggested donation of $20 apiece.
“I couldn’t believed how fast they went, and the people at DeMille’s were just amazing… they’ve had a big display set up there and people have just been buying them,” said Nyeste.
Nyeste was pleasantly surprised by the positive public response, and how quickly the bowls sold. That success translated into a cheque for $2,036, which Nyeste recently donated to Vahlleri Semeniuk at the Second Harvest food bank.
On Thursday, May 14, Nyeste had more bowls in the kiln. The plan, he explained, was to create another 500 bowls, again to raise money for the food bank. While he donated his labour and materials on the first batch, Nyeste said Second Harvest has submitted an application to the Shuswap Community Foundation for funding that will help cover the cost.
Shuswap Community Foundation manager Roger Parenteau said an expression of interest had been received by Second Harvest. He described the application for funding in support of a fundraiser as “fairly unique,” but added these are fairly unique times, and the foundation is working on ways to better fund these unique projects.
Nyeste expects to be putting in anywhere up to 150 hours to complete the 500 bowls. Prior to his recent charity work, Nyeste completed his spring line, to be sold at summer shows that are on hold due to COVID-19.
“I’ve got probably a $100,000 inventory sitting on my shelves at the moment and nobody wants… I have nowhere to sell it,” said Nyeste. “We normally would do five big summer shows and all of those look like they’re going to be cancelled.”
One of those shows is the High Country Pottery Sale, organized by Bruce and Laura Nyeste, that usually takes place over the B.C. Day long weekend in August at the Sorrento Memorial Hall. Bruce said he’s waiting until June 1 to see what rules are in place before deciding the fate of that show.
In the meantime, Bruce enjoys keeping busy at his craft. He said the charity work has given him an opportunity to play with new glazes he’s been wanting to try for a long time.
“I’ve had a chance to play with all these things and have come up with some really amazing glazes that I think will become part of my future production,” said Bruce, adding he prefers creating bowls over watching TV, even though it does cut into time that could be spent fishing.