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Fired up about pottery

 

A lump of clay can be transformed into an item of great beauty and artistic expression. When Bob Jeffrey throws his lump of clay on the potter’s wheel, he is transformed as well. (See an example of his work above.)

It is a beautiful Saturday on a long weekend, Jeffrey, a member of Sudbury Basin Potters is using the Raku kiln that Jose Garcia has brought for members to try. The Raku method of firing uses propane rather than electricity or wood to heat the kiln.

Raku dates back to 16th century Japan and there is evidence it was originated by Korean potters, who while under Japanese rule, were ordered to come up with a quick firing method for making tea bowls.

Everyone is excited about the new kiln and what new items they can make. Jeffrey has been working at making masks and is eager to see the outcome of the Raku kiln.

Pottery has defined many civilizations and cultures throughout history. Arising from a practical need, today it is more about artistic expression. What starts out as simple clay is turned into a unique piece that allow artists to create something beautiful.

The potter is seeking a balanced piece, with a light weight, and right size which often depends on his or her throwing ability. The different glazes and firing methods all contribute to giving the artist a signature piece.

The majority of guild potters are there to recharge the left brain. Jeffrey and his wife. Tammy, joined the Sudbury Basin Potters a year and a half ago. They found not only a place to hang out together on Friday nights but a way to channel creative expression into a busy life.

Jeffrey’s mother was also a potter and he recalls the special room set aside for her craft. “She had a kiln and all kinds of glazes. We were allowed to watch but not touch. I picked up a lot of knowledge, intuitively, about pottery.”

Jeffrey spent many years training as an athlete and competing in triathlons. Now he enjoys the slower pace of working with his heart and hands.

Vacations for he and his wife often include week-long workshops to learn new techniques. This is exactly what Jeffrey loves about pottery.

“You can spend your whole life learning pottery and still need another life time to learn. It just goes on and on, it’s dynamic,” he said.

“There is no apparent value to clay, but when you dig it up, manipulate it into a creative expression, then it has great value,” said Garcia. “The potter is the one who can create beauty and value in a piece, and there is no limit.”

He studied pottery at Sheridan College and found himself on Manitoulin Island digging up clay to use on his self-built potter’s wheel. He was pulled away from pottery for a number of year by close friend, Bob Rae, who was premier at the time. Rae asked him to join his team to advocate for injured workers.

Garcia and his wife, Brenda Renwick, operate the South Bay Guest House bed and breakfast on South Bay Rd. in Sudbury and and Southbay Gallery and Guest House in South Baymouth on Manitoulin Island. The gallery features artwork created by Canadian artisans and there are regular studio demonstrations.

ThMore information is available about Sudbury Basin Potters on their Facebook page.

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