Arts on the Avenue, a wonderful annual event in Ladysmith, is rapidly approaching. It’s on the 26th of August. This year Jo and Vic (that’s us) are the featured artists, and we’re so excited and have been working like industrious little ants to make sure we have some beautiful one-of-a-kind pieces to show and sell, in both our stoneware and raku pottery. We will also have a display of some of our wheel-thrown and hand-made functional stoneware pottery. And to make things even more fun, Vic will be demonstrating on the wheel.
In anticipation of this special event, I was asked to do a demonstration on our local Shaw Cable Show: The Show. It was a crazy controlled chaotic atmosphere. I had no idea when I arrived that there would be multiple guests and hosts, numerous cameras and lights, and that I would be given 4 minutes to prepare. There was an interview with the owner of Effing Oyster up before me. I watched him setting up for about 25 minutes before the start of the show. The director suddenly called for everyone, guests, hosts, camera and sound crew members, to gather. He began providing directions to the assembled group, including musicians, folks with animals, hockey coach and so forth, and then said: “Josee, you will have 4 minutes to set up.” I think I went into shock, and burst out: “I’m a potter, not a magician.” Then it was his face that had a priceless look on it. He re-arranged the line-up to increase my prep time to 5 minutes.
I spent the Effing Oyster interview time sitting on the floor, hidden from cameras, and doing my preparation. Much of what I needed was quickly hidden behind the Oyster Man before the cameras started rolling on our side of the studio.
The link to the show follows here. You can find my segment at 13:59 minutes into the episode, and there’s a brief return spot with me at about 39 minutes in.
Vic will be off to finish up the Comox Nautical Days Show tomorrow, and I can hardly wait for him to get back to studio life with me. I’ve been putting in 12-hour days since my partner isn’t around to help finish off the day. He’s up and leaving by 6:30 AM, and since I’m awake too, I get busy. The trouble is I have to keep busy until the garden is watered and all the little chores we normally share are finished. But the sun is shining, and lots of work is being done. Just one more day in Comox, and things will get back to? Gosh, I want to say normal, but I can’t remember what that is. Here’s one of the gorgeous Teapots Vic brought to Comox.
Comox Nautical Days starts on Saturday. Vic has begun to pack up in preparation to start setting up the booth. That has him scurrying, because we haven’t stopped firing the Raku kiln, and we haven’t closed the studio. In fact through the last few days we’ve had quite a few people through. Some have enjoyed a visit, others have been helping with opening the kiln so that we could do our thing as a teamed pair of pyromaniacs.
Of course it’s always great to have a little extra help
Vic is going to have quite a bit of raku pottery for sale during the show in Comox, which starts Saturday and runs through to Monday. Jo will be here at the studio in Ladysmith, after all, some of our annual visitors might show up here at our studio, and we’re also gearing up for a later show in Ladysmith. But if you have time, do drop by and say hello to us either at the studio, or visit the booth in Comox.
As an artist, I find myself periodically returning to further develop themes begun during previous periods of inspiration. I can’t seem to just “make” things to order, at least not when they are one-of-a-kind items, albeit themed. I suppose it’s no different than what a landscape painter experiences. The subject might be the same, but it requires fresh inspiration, and ever-developing skills and techniques to bring something new to the work. It has perhaps been 15 years since I last worked on raku village scenes. They take such a great deal of time that they truly need to be made for the sheer joy of the work and creativity involved.
Each of these village wall scenes takes a couple of days to create. That of course is only the beginning.
I feel as though I get lost in the scene I`m creating. My hands, my thoughts, everything just becomes one with the clay as I process my ideas.
Once they`re made, they need an extensive drying period. I can temporarily let go of them, even get on with other things, allowing other creative ideas to flow. But when they come out of the kiln after that first firing, I need to get back into them again. It usually takes another couple of days for each of them to get glaze treatments. I manage to work on them for a few hours, put them aside, come back to them again, and so on. This latest series of 4 village scenes is vibrating with color, being treated to underglazes before getting a final glaze coating.
Once the underglaze is applied, it`s time for the final glaze coating to be sprayed on before the raku firing can take place.
So far I`ve only managed to completely finish one of the four made for this series. I can hardly wait to get the rest through.
After spending a week with Don Ellis at Metchosin International Summer School of the Arts (MISSA), Vic’s re-inspired to do more with Raku. That has resulted in both of us working with raku clay again. I’ve been using some Industrial Raku, with the reminder that this is not a particularly white body of clay. Vic’s been using WSO, but though this clay fires up nice and white, which is terrific when it’s used with a white crackle glaze, it’s also terribly groggy. At MISSA, Vic was hearing about Soldat 60. He picked some up, and yesterday he started making some pots with it. I can hardly wait to see the final results and will be posting some pics later of the new pieces he’s throwing. In the meantime, Edward McCrea came by and started taking some pictures of the firings.
Comox Nautical Daysis coming up very quickly, and yes, we’ll be there. This year the dates for this delightful festival are August 4, 5, and 6. Our work this year will include some stunning new raku pottery. The show is always a pleasure and an opportunity to spend time with some of the wonderful people who return annually. Comox Nautical Days offers 3 exciting days of fun, and it includes the Bullhead Derby, Canoe Jousting, Dragon Boat Races, Build, Bail& Sail, the Ceremony of the Flags, parade, food, crafts and fireworks. For us it’s a chance to enjoy meeting some new customers as well as spending time with some of the people who make this an annual experience. To find out even more, you can check the organizers’ website as well: Comox Nautical Days 54th Celebration.
We expect we’ll soon be posting special Raku Firing Days, so please look for that.
We also hope to see you again for the annual Arts on the Avenue Art Show and Sale. This year we are going to be the featured artists. With that in mind we are both feeling inspired. Vic’s been doing some amazing pieces for raku firing, and I’ve been working on some terrific sculptural work for both the garden and house. And of course we’ve got some beautiful new stoneware coming through as well. I’ve even been making some beautiful hand-built and pleated ultra lightweight folded bowls. Gosh, I’d better get out there and start glazing those. Sure hope to see you there.
Vic enjoyed a busman’s holiday last week, getting out to do a workshop with Don Ellis at the Metchosin International Summer School of the Arts. The result is a new inspired enthusiasm for doing some raku. He has been doing firings here at the studio for the past three days, and I will soon be putting up some great new pics of the work coming through.
This pot has yet another reduction to follow in a contained atmosphere. And then it’s wait paitiently for about 10 minutes.
We were absolutely delighted with yesterday’s edition of the Ladysmith Chemainus Chronicle. Check the story out for yourselves, and you’ll perhaps understand why we feel it is such an honour to live and work in harmony with our First Nations community, schools, and families. Vancouver Island’s Coast Salish people can proudly boast of a rich cultural and artistic history spanning thousands of years. It’s a joy to see these repeated traditional or individually modified designs find a new medium for expression, and to even contemplate what these young students may do in coming years–the stuff of dreams.
We’ll be ready to welcome you in spite of Vic’s cracked arm. We managed to put through my work, Vic’s previously thrown pieces, glazed and finished by me, and best of all, we managed to secure a large selection of stock we’d previously sent to a store in Victoria. The selection is going to be wonderful. The atmosphere will be too. Sure hope we see you there.
It’s always a terrific event and one that we really love being part of too. Some of the mid-Island’s most celebrated artisans welcome you to enjoy the wonderful setting that they have created for you at their farms, studios, and shops. Like us, lots of these artisans not only display and sell their unique work, but many demonstrate techniques and take the time to answer questions and they even serve light refreshments. But how can a potter produce with a cracked arm? Well, if he can’t make the pots, maybe Jo can pick up some of the slack.
With some of her regular work gently drying on the shelves. Vic, the one-armed camera bandit, caught her getting back on the wheel. It’s not something she does all that often anymore, but from the smile…
It does require a little effort to center the clay, but before long the familiar rhythm of throwing brings calm.
We will do our best to have our showroom fully stocked and ready for the holiday season. Sometime between baking for the tour, teaching students from Stu”ate Lelum, handling the bookkeeping, and a myriad of regular chores. Jo’s determined that she will get the pots through. And there will be work by Vic that she is going to somehow get bisqued and glazed too.
Come visit us during the tour which starts November 17 and runs for 4 days.
We’ll also host Lynda Diamond of Island Estuary B&B with her delicious antipastos during the tour. And how wonderful they will be when given with a gorgeous Vegetable and Dip Platter from our studio.
Carol Wagenaar will also have her beautiful wreaths for sale again this year. This is her annual fundraiser for Haven House.
It has been a remarkably wonderful summer here on Vancouver Island. Okay, I admit it didn’t start until August, but here it is in September and it’s truly full-on summer. We often see customers return year after year, and they become friends. This year some of our friends introduced us to their new addition.
The little “mister” loved the cool feel of the clay. We got hand and foot prints, and those little fingers just wanted to feel and play.
One hand for an “undisturbed” print, the other free to play with the clay… oh we love this new little boy and look forward to seeing his annual growth.
Marnie and Christian, thanks so much for bringing this wonderful little guy to visit. He sure is a fabulous creation.
It really has been a very hectic summer around here. Despite my hope to continue to add new posts and images, I’ve found myself too busy in and out of the studio to actually manage the web-site time.
We’ve enjoyed the pleasure of a 7-week visit from our precious granddaughter, Kyanna. It turned into a family summer. This little sweetheart sure fills our house with laughter and joy and we are all missing her. So now we wait for Cassie and Danielle, and maybe once the visits are behind us for this summer, I’ll manage a few shots of the new and exciting pottery. For those close enough… don’t miss out on the Arts on the Avenue Show in Ladysmith (the last Sunday this month).
A great morning at the studio with Teddy taking pictures of our pottery and Vic taking pics of Teddy, me and our dogs. Leo, Teddy and Lynda’s beautiful Nova Scotia Ducktoler pictured top left, enjoyed playing with Molson, but when lunch arrived, both concentrated on letting us know they wanted us to share.
Vic spoiled us with a fabulous spiced kale and mixed vegetable soup and toasted Dubliner cheese on rye sandwiches, proving his creativity in the kitchen is almost as great as it is in the studio. Teddy sure delighted in the alligator textured soup bowl he used.
But another creative moment came from our construction of a “light box” to help reduce glare on the pots Teddy shot.
We’d gone rummaging around and found a roll of styrofoam underlay, left over from a flooring installation.
The booth worked, the puppies were both enjoyed, and the French Press coffee was delightful too.
How terrific it is to have great friends, with remarkable skills and talents, and then to share your love of sweet beasties too… yes, really a delight. And though these pictures lack Teddy’s professional skill, I’m glad Vic took them.
This wonderful morning was topped off by a great afternoon with students, especially when Teddy stayed and took some shots of them too. But to see those you’ll have to go to another blog here.
The studio is often filled with creative chaos, but it is always a welcoming and friendly place to visit.
What could be more fun than teaching students who find joy in the experience? We have the pleasure of being part of the Stu”ate Lelum Secondary School co-operative education program. Today we had the added fortune of having our favourite photographer there when three of the girls came for their pottery class. Edward McCrea, Ladysmith Photography, says he loves taking candid shots, and I think the images we got from him today sure prove that point. I hope they make you smile too.
The student pictured working on the potter’s wheel has only been taking classes for a brief time, but she’s showing remarkable aptitude, and clearly improving with every class.
Our pride shows as we watch Vicki demonstrating to (teaching) our new student Celine. Vicki teases us that she’ll have a studio some day and she’ll be even better than us.
Meanwhile, as Louise concentrates on decorating with slip, our photographer’s wonderful dog, Leo, is closely watching her every move. It’s a relaxed and peaceful atmosphere, and we’re always happy to work with these amazing students who attend a First Nations School with a truly great goal:”To provide students with a safe and welcoming environment, develop the skills students need for success after graduation and honour the rich traditions of First Nations Culture.” It’s a goal we’re proud to share with the Stz’uminus First Nations here in Ladysmith. Hay ce:p qa’ Siem
Glaze firing pottery allows for many different techniques and approaches, as well as a wide range of temperatures. The approach most widely used at JoVic Pottery is based on oxidation of mid-range stoneware pottery. With more than 30 years of testing, we’ve developed a number of delightful, labour-intensive, approaches here. We do not use any commercial glazes on our work. As for the firings, we prefer the use of an electric kiln and fire our pottery to what is commonly called cone 6 (approximately 1225º C), basing our final results on the use of pyrometric cones. These pyrometric devices are used to gauge heatwork during the firing. They provide the potter with a visual clue and help determine shut-off since they deform at specific temperatures. The cones are generally arranged in a series of three, with the guard cone deforming first indicating that things are getting close, the middle one deforming at shut-off time, and the final cone indicating an over-firing (believe me, it happens). With kiln temperature varying throughout different locations in the kiln (depending on how well it’s packed and stacked), the cone sets are usually placed in three different areas, each visible via a peephole. Potters sometimes have to arrange one part of a kiln to begin cooling, while another must be kept at full heat to ensure maturity of the glaze.
Ceramic glazes generally contain silica to form glass, in combination with a mixture of metal oxides such as sodium, potassium and calcium which act as a flux and allow the glaze to melt at a particular temperature. alumina (usually from added clay) to stiffen the glaze and prevent it from running off the piece, colorants such as iron oxide, copper carbonate or cobalt carbonate, and sometimes opacifiers such as tin oxide or zirconium oxide. It definitely requires the potter to become familiar with each of the ingredients being used… we may not have been overly interested in the subject during our school years, but the craft of glazing soon turns some of us into chemists.
At JoVic Pottery, we use many approaches to glazing our work. In some cases we start with an engobe fired on during the initial bisque stage. Pottery is not matured (turned into stoneware) during that initial firing; rather it remains porous enough for us to apply glaze in liquid form prior to final firings. In the case of the platter detail shown here, the engobed and carved apron of the platter was waxed over before applying glazes. On this piece there are multiple layers of glaze applied at varying thicknesses to create depth and colour.
All of our functional stoneware pottery is free of lead or other minerals and oxides that run the risk of leaching into food, and it can be safely placed in your dishwasher too. There are, however, some truly decorative glazes used on our artworks. They can contain high amounts of manganese, lithium or cobalt. But don’t worry, we’ll never risk your health, and we minimize ours by wearing masks when we concoct these gorgeous finishes that we know will never come into contact with anything that will leach them. Visitors to our studio are often surprised by the number of containers with glaze ingredients sitting on our shelves. We always welcome their questions, but we don’t share our recipes. The countless hours we invest in glaze development will ensure we keep these secret.
With the full arrival of Spring in Ladysmith, and with as many birds at our feeders, we’re now back to the occasional rescue of small birds still learning the use of their wings. This little wren flew into the Pottery Studio Showroom window. It spent about an hour recuperating in my hands, and was happy to accept kisses and a tiny bit of honey which I hoped might help provide it some additional energy. I could find no breaks in wings or feet, and fully expected it would quickly wish to leave–at least as soon as it recovered from its shock.
About an hour into the rescue, I tried to place the little thing down in a comfy old slipper. I had things to do and wanted my own freedom back. But baby wren had other ideas, flapped it wings and managed to curl its claws around my finger. I tried holding it out of an open window. It wouldn’t budge. I tried walking around outside. It wasn’t leaving. I finally entered the showroom (we had customers at the time) and placed it on my shoulder. As you can see, it simply sat there while the customer took the picture.
I did finally manage to encourage it to fly off, but not without appreciating the fact that I now have a new little friend out there, and while it may soon forget me, I won’t quickly forget its calm pleasure in my presence. Fly well little wren.
I’m aware that this site is more than just a place for our own customers and friends to quickly see what might be hot out of the kiln these days. It’s an opportunity to showcase our community. With that in mind I’m hard at work trying to learn how best to approach the development of a working site. I’m posting this little blog just so you’ll know that one visit here simply won’t be enough. Please come back often to see what I’ve added.
Of course, I’ll be posting new images of our superb functional and decorative stoneware and raku pottery, and have already arranged for photographer Edward McCrea to come and take some professional pictures for us. In addition, I hope to showcase local attractions, telling you about the wonderful things to do while you visit us. I will let you in on the most amazing local art studios and area gardens. I’ll show you where to stay and where to dine. So please, do come back often to see what’s new.