Hello potters, ceramists, sculptors - Welcome to a new day.
With the closing of Dragonfire Pottery and Supplies, we have, in a sense, entered into a new era: Overnight, we have become an island on which everything must be imported. When I grew up on Newfoundland (many, many years ago), everything that couldn't be grown or raised had to be imported or you made it yourself out of what was at hand. Forward planning was key: if you wanted oranges or a new pair of shoes, you needed to think about it well in advance of when you actually needed them. (Does this sound familiar?) There are drawbacks to this phenomenon, but there are opportunities to be embraced as well. Potters, like islanders, seem to foster a sense of community - We have traditionally helped each other in many ways. It's why we began the Potters Guild.
As your Guild, we will do our best to direct you and help find answers, through emails and on the website. If and when you have ideas and sources to pass on, we will post these as well. (And since we are "old school", give us a call!) Building a clay network will be essential if we are to continue in our art and craft.
I invite you to look at our present situation as an opportunity to collaborate in new ways: to stretch ourselves and form new alliances. Where will this take us? For newer potters, will you set up a studio? Will you find a new place to take classes? Will you learn to make glazes and fire a kiln? For established potters, will you share your kiln or studio space with another potter? How about taking on an apprentice? or some other form or mentorship?
This year I urge you to stretch. Take the chance. Be the change. Embrace the opportunities presented by new constraints. Welcome to a new day!
Judy and Sharon, Co-Presidents
Sculptural ceramics is a diverse and complicated art form, always allowing for more room to grow and new techniques to learn. Each technique allows its own approach and each has its advantages. The two most common building techniques for creating a clay sculpture are coil-building and slab-building. In this workshop Jess will teach a method which involves first handbuilding a clay object solid, then hollowing it out before firing.
I attended this workshop to learn new sculpture techniques that would allow me to create larger pieces than I had previously. The workshop schedule allowed a day for demonstration and construction of your piece, a curing period, hollowing and reconstruction of your work, curing, addition of decorative details, firing, and glaze application. It was more than a little unnerving to create something only to lop it into pieces and then reassemble it! I had only worked with pinch techniques before this. The group enjoyed the chance to work in a common studio, comparing notes and ideas. No piece resembled any other, and the diversity of the group was exciting! The studio café provided incredible vegetarian lunches every day, so we were well entertained and well fed – a winning combination! Here Jessica shows us a piece she had hollowed out for our inspection. Compression of the clay during the process strengthens the piece. We’re all smiling – that’s actually a smile of hope for a good outcome as the carving tool is plunged into the clay to scoop out the centre. A week later, reassembly begins using a reassuringly familiar score and slip technique.Again, compression of the joints is key to a successful outcome. Jessica’s pieces bide their time by looking out at the sea while we diligently work behind them to finish our creations.The Main and Station Gallery put on an exhibition of our work that was well received by the community.
I didn’t make it back to Parrsboro to photograph the finished works, complete with glaze application. A big disappointment for me! My two pieces, an owl and a chicken, were a success and I had a good time. Isn’t that really why we do this?This workshop was offered again this winter. There is a range of local B&B accommodations: February 2016: the 6th, 13th, 14th, & 20th from 10 am to 4 pm at Main & Station Second Floor, 168 Main Street, Parrsboro, Nova Scotia, B0M 1S0
A 4 DAY POTTERY WORKSHOP - HOLLOW SOLIDS: BUILDING A CERAMIC SCULPTURE
AUTHOR: Jane Harrington
May 10th, 16th, 17th, and 30th At Main & Station, 168 Main St, Parrsboro, NS, B0M 1S0
INSTRUCTOR: Jessica Sallay-Carrington
In May 2015 I and a number of other NSPG members attended a sculpture workshop called Hollow Solids, given by Jessica Sallay Carrington from Montreal. It was hosted at a newish art space in Parrsboro in the old converted post office building called Main and Station Nonsuch Kickshaws. The workshop method explored creating a solid sculpture the first day, and cutting the piece into sections to hollow out the forms and then reassembling them again. The final day had us glazing the pieces and then they were displayed in a group show along with Jessica's pieces she made during her residency in Parrsboro. There was a definite bird theme to many of the creations with Jenn's Corporate Vulture, and Carol making a punk chicken and a sweet owl as well as a Guinea hen coming to life.NSPG members in attendance were Jenn Houghtaling, Nancy Roberts, and Carol Goodwin
The final weekend Jessica also taught a one day workshop called Epic Mugs, which uses sculptural additions and carvings on a hand built mug. A technique I enjoyed and started using in my own work.
THE INTERNATIONAL CERAMICS FESTIVAL 2015
AUTHOR: Tracy Horsman
Have you seen this advertised in Ceramics Monthly? It’s just a tiny black and white square or a few lines in the upcoming events sections. The advertising is definitely not flashy, but I was intrigued anyway... plus it’s called a Festival! Curiously, everyone who knew I was planning to go were asking, “When are you going to the Conference?”.
I don’t know why I put this event on my bucket list but I did. When they opened registration for it in the fall of 2014, I decided to buy my ticket.
Thus began the journey of figuring out how to pronounce “Aberystwyth”, how to get there, how long to stay, what else to do. The Festival is only two days plus an evening, but it packs a huge punch in a short time frame. I would not have had the stamina for a longer event at that pace.
The festival participants are almost exclusively from the UK and Ireland, but the presenters are truly international and it was a real treat to see pottery icons from every continent together in such an intimate venue. Tony Clennell represented Canada.
There is no way for my short write up to do this little event justice, but the two things that stick out in my mind at this point are: 1) that firing pottery can be performance art and; 2) the recurring theme from presenters that strongly recommend breaking the rules.
Rita Gudino from the Philippines constructed a huge sculptural clay kiln onsite in the few weeks before the festival that was fired during the festival. Sergi Pahissa and his team from Spain collected scrap material from in and around Aberystwyth to build their even larger sculptural kiln that had moving parts!
Tip Toland is a generous and humble soul who shares her experience freely and learning that she uses house paint instead of glaze kinda blew my mind. Thiebaut Chague taught us that even when the Louvre smashes your sculpture into bits you can still consider it a happy accident and John Higgins, Gareth Mason and Jo Taylor have tossed out all the rules and are working purely on instinct which was fun to watch and personally very liberating for my own work.
The only thing that would have made this event better would have been a clay companion to share the experience and swap notes with. I’d never been to Wales or anywhere in the UK for that matter, but everyone I’ve talked to who has ever been to Wales insists that it’s one of the best places to visit. I can now say that I totally agree. For pottery/ceramic lovers the UK obviously has a lot to offer so no matter how long you stay there will be things to do.
NSPG FEEDBACK FEAST
Pottery Tour Talk BY Shauna Macleod
In June, I did a feedback feast at Dragonfire to talk about the pottery I saw and purchased on my spring travels. My wife and I did a trip of a lifetime that included: England, Ireland, Scotland, Italy, Croatia, Greece, Turkey, and then finished with a family visit to Vancouver. I saw so much amazing pottery throughout our travels from small individual pottery studios, to large collections at museums and galleries. It was so incredible seeing historical pots that I studied during NSCAD as well as contemporary works of artists I have seen both on line and in magazines. I have included the website of three of my favourite artists or artworks I saw during the travels.
Members At work
Jane Herold in April
Here are a couple of links, one to a short video of me in the pottery and the other to an article in studio potter. I hope all's well up there, I am still so busy making pots down here my time in CB has been regrettably short. Hope to be there this summer for a few weeks at least. Check out Whats-New with Jane! Read the article from Studio Potters Here.
Alex McCurdy was nominated to, and accepted by, the Royal Canadian Academy of the Arts, and was inducted last May in Montreal. There was an exhibition of the new inductees work in Montreal, plus Alex had her own show at the David Kaye Gallery in Toronto, this past. October. Read about Alexandra McCurdy’s boxes on International Sculpture Center site by Gil McElroy HERE.
Annual General Meeting of the Nova Scotia Potters’ Guild February 21, 2016
The AGM of the NSPG was held at the Dartmouth North Community Centre, Highfield Rd., Dartmouth.
FRONT AND CENTER ON THE AGENDA
Cyndi Yeatman, owner and operator of Dragonfire Pottery and Supplies, advised the Guild that she would be closing her doors on March 12, 2016.
We want to thank Cyndi and her staff for their tireless efforts to service the potters and ceramists of Nova Scotia in all respects. They have been the centre of our clay community in this Province and it would not be overstating it to say that we are devastated by this news. We will certainly miss the camaraderie and ease of ordering.
As a Guild, we will do our best to facilitate and keep people informed as to the ordering of supplies in the future. We are confident there are viable solutions to the issue of accessibility to clay by both large and small users.
We encouraged members to attend the AGM so that we could work together to create a strategy to deal with both accessibility to supplies and to studio workspace.
Judy and Sharon, Co-Presidents NSPG
"8 March-Last potluck for the Tuesday class at Dragonfire, with fabulous food, much laughter and tears. Natalie Faulkner spoke of sharing knowledge and friendships, Thanking Cindy for the time had there. As most of us know, classes are about more than learning about clay, although that's always wonderful!" -Judy Gordon
The Creative Solutions in the Studio, Online and in Business workshop
The Creative Solutions in the Studio, Online and in Business workshop, finally held on 14 February after 2 postponements due to snow, was a huge success and well received. Members were happy that their needs were addressed and met in a one day format. To ensure that members would continue to have a say in what they wanted in a workshop, a Survey Monkey was sent out. From the survey, it was decided that a hands on workshop would be offered. Subsequently Vincent Massey was booked for a 3 day workshop on May 13th – 15th.
Welcome to the guild - Membership Coordinator-Carol Morrow
Each year we are delighted to welcome new members. We're glad to have you! If you can come to our workshops and events, we'd love to meet you in person. If we can be a resource for you, that's great. If you want to share something with the membership, we'd like to hear from you.
As of 2 May 2016, we have an incredible 97 members, up from 69 at the end of the 2014 year.
Website Coordinator-Shauna MacLeod
This year we had 7929 page views with 80.8% of those are unique users. We have an average bounce rate of 48%.
The average page visit duration was 1 minutes 56 seconds.
The most visited page this year was again the Classes page with 4773 unique page views.
A new statistic that was available this year was how people were viewing the site: Desktop 65% Tablet 15% Mobile 20%
Tips to increasing views to your page and the website in general:
- Share your unique page URL on the guild website with everyone so they can easily access your page.
- Update the website often. Send the website coordinator your show announcements, new photos you want to share, special events you are involved in, and update your bio. It only takes moments to make these changes and they will help to improve traffic flow to our site.
- If you have a website, include a link to our website. The more linking that happens, the more traffic we get.
- If you have not submitted information to have your own unique web page consider sending it in. You can go with a minimum of one photo along with a short bio and one way of contacting you. It not only looks good on the site but also looks good for you.
- If you have your web page up already consider changing the photos or your bio statement.
NSPG Communicator - Carol Smeraldo
There are lots of emails that are received and distributed through the Guild mailing list. Carol does not check NSPG email every day so if you wish to have a notice sent out, please try to give her at least 4 days lead time. If an urgent announcement needs to go out sooner, please phone Carol at 902- 434-1336 to tell her that you have sent an email, so that she can attend to it ASAP.
When replying to an email, make sure that you reply to the SOURCE of the email NOT to the Guild.
In other words, DON’T HIT REPLY! (sorry, I am shouting)
If you send an email that is intended for the executive, and/or not meant for general distribution, please make sure that it is clear in the heading so that it will be directed properly.
If you know a member who is not receiving emails from the Guild, please ask them to check their junk mail and if found there, add our gmail address to their contact or safe mail list. If that is not it, please contact Carol directly or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
On our Nova Scotia Potters’ Guild Facebook page, we could contact one another and reach out to help each other. Another Facebook page has been opened – Maritime Ceramic Supply Resource Group. The purpose of this page is to put a shout out to anyone who may be placing an order, anyone who may have some surplus materials to loan until a shipment is placed and in general, just another resource for the ceramics community. Carol Smeraldo gave a brief history of getting supplies through the years; originally having to go to Maine, then to New Brunswick, followed to APS and finally to Dragonfire. Through all these transitions, potters were able to get the materials they needed by pulling together and with some forward planning.
Danielle Sawada mentioned that Tucker’s has a sale in July – all clay is sold at the 100 box cost.
For the hobby potters, the difference between the 100 box cost and the single box is between $4-$6. When buying only a few boxes, obviously not that much of an issue. It’s the shipping that adds the real expense. It will be very important for those who are ordering only a few boxes of clay at a time, to collaborate on the order to reduce the cost of shipping. This will NOT reduce the cost of the clay.
Roseanne Tanner told us that Shaw brick sells their clay for $16 / bag. This is dry clay that needs to be reconstituted.