The clay is being thrown, shaped, fired and, in some cases, glazed for the Okanagan Potters Association’s Spring Sale and One-of-a-Kind Show as well as the Pride of Potters gathering, both taking place in June.
This year’s show and sale is happening in a new location, next door to that conundrum of arts and crafts pursuits that is Creative Chaos, June 7 and 8.
“Our show will take place in the air-conditioned and relaxed atmosphere of the foyer in the Vernon Performing Arts Centre, said Laurel Fredin, with the potters association. “Collectors and new buyers will appreciate the quality pieces in this two-day show featuring some of the top potters and artisans in the Okanagan.”
Guest artist this year is Kelowna potter Steven Smalley, who will be showing his sculptural clay pieces at the show.
An honours graduate from the Alberta College of Art in Calgary, where he majored in sculpture, Smalley used clay to model the human figure. However, it wasn’t until seven years later that he took pottery classes in Vancouver and fell in love with the medium for ceramics.
In Kelowna for 22 years working at a day job as a finishing carpenter, Smalley works with clay every opportunity he can get. He often takes small pieces of discarded construction debris home from his job to be part of his clay work, and hopes in future to combine wood with clay.
“It seems natural to bring the two materials together, but I’m still tinkering with the idea,” said Smalley.
As a designer and builder, Smalley worked as a carpenter in Vancouver and also built concrete rock formations for the Prehistoric Park at the Calgary Zoo. At the Toronto Metro Zoo, he constructed animal exhibits, turning the facade of the jaguar enclosure into a Mayan temple.
Most of Smalley’s clay sculptures take on a vase-like shape and are directly influenced by his study of the human figure. Reference is made to the human torso; even the vase terminology — the foot, the body, waist, neck and lip.
“The big attraction with clay for me is its plasticity — that’s the quality of clay that allows it to be stretched, pinched and take imprints,” he said.
Smalley’s sculptures are an assemblage of many smaller slabs of clay, which he textures by either pressing objects into the clay or rolling clay over textured surfaces such as tires, the backs of floor tiles or the bricks on his house. He doesn’t use glazes often, saying he prefers the look of natural clay.
“(I) find that glazes create reflections on the textured surfaces making the surface look busy and confusing,” said Smalley.
The Okanagan Potters Association spring show takes place Friday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
The Okanagan Potters Association is also hosting the Pride of Potters gathering June 16 at Hecate Farm Pottery in Armstrong, owned by Al and Cathie Price.
The event will bring together potters from all points of the Okanagan and Central Interior to share ideas and techniques. There will be demonstrations, discussions, a potluck lunch and some imaginative pottery competitions.
Hecate Farm Pottery is located at 4433 Schubert Rd. Armstrong. For more information, contact Shaz Kezbek at 250-959-2826, Jeanette Moore at 778-475-4436 or Al Price at 250-546-0547.