It’s been a little while since I’ve found time for this website. But we’ve been working overtime since our trip to France this past Spring. A former apprentice of ours operates his pottery studio in Bretagne, l’atelier Terre précieuse, and we enjoyed a trip that allowed exchange workshops with Olivier Ruaud and Alice Urien Ruaud.
Alice and Olivier enjoy producing the variety of their work using Raku firing techniques–in truth a process that we have given up.
However, after putting in more than 20 years with this technique, we had a lot to share, from using Ferric Chloride to spraying pots with alcohol to bring out the copper highlights, through to using horse-hair and feathers on hot pots.
Olivier and Alice have a beautiful studio in what might arguably be one of the most beautiful provinces in France. Their specialty is “naked raku” which relies on a white slip that cracks and allows amazing images of smoked lines on their work. In addition, they use colorful commercial glazes in concert with this naked process.
We truly enjoyed learning some of Alice’s throwing techniques, and since coming home, we’ve enjoyed creating some items that have derived from her process. It’s truly wonderful to know that we can share our skills while continuing to develop our own.
After years of making sculptural and functional pottery and only painting for my personal pleasure, I’ve made an unexpected step forward. Working with acrylics on gallery canvas, I’ve set myself free with abstracts. Please click on any of the images to see a larger version.
These are just some of the paintings I’ve created over the past few months and I’m delighted with sales to date. Some are still available.
JoVic Pottery has been part of the Cedar and Yellow Point Artisans Association since 1995. This phenomenal group of artists and artisans truly add special interest to the Cedar and Yellow Point area of Vancouver Island. Situated between Ladysmith and Nanaimo, we’re all truly easy to find.
We offer an annual Christmas tour each November, but we also have studios that remain open to the public year-round. Because of this, we also haven an annual Artisan Trail brochure enabling visitors to find our studios and discover the beauty around us which inspires so much of our work. This brochure, part of the Tourism Nanaimo program not only features the Artisan Trail, but includes hiking and walking trails, farms and fields, and dining and lodging for visitors to the area.
This summer, as part of our outreach, we’re also taking turns participating in the wonderful Cedar Farmers’ Market. It’s a terrific market offering local arts and crafts, organic produce, bath and beauty products, plants and flowers, and even artisan cheeses as well as dairy products and meats.
Each of the links provided here will help direct visitors to much of what the area has to offer. Of course we truly hope your visit will include a stop at our studio. It’s not just a great pottery, but we have a super wonderful property with lovely trees and plants. Be sure to come and enjoy the scent of the honeysuckle soon. It’s fantastic.
The Ladysmith Spring Art Tour is set to start on April 24, 2015. It will run from 10 – 4 pm on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Our own studio, JoVic Pottery, is open until 5:00 pm. Use this wonderful opportunity by taking the self-guided tour to meet the artists in your neighborhood. Pottery, Glass, Printmaking, Painting, Hand hooked rugs, and so much more. You can also head to the tour Facebook page for more information and some images of the kind of work you’ll be seeing on the tour.
There are loads of beautiful new pots at our studio here in Ladysmith on Vancouver Island, including the always collectible Mocha and Crawl or Alligator glazed mugs.
There are wonderful vases, lidded vessels, teapots, and so much more freshly coming from the kiln today and tomorrow. Be sure to stop by, making it a special weekend, checking out the lovely gardens filled with beautiful rhododendron blooms, apple blossom, dogwood blossom, azaleas and more. Yes, come celebrate spring with us.
Feel free to wander the garden, the studio and our showroom. Meanwhile, we’ll do our best to ask for sunny days while you travel our beautiful area.
Many potters will talk about the inspiration of previous master potters when it comes to the direction of their own work. They follow the examples set by such notable masters as Shoji Hamada, Bernard Leach, Lucie Rie and others who have had tremendous impact on the development of the modern potters following in their footsteps. But there are also potters who live in surroundings that inspire their lives and their work. We count our blessings to be among these.
We have also relied on the masters to hone our skills over the past 35 years, but we find that nature continuously offers us a palette that finds its way into much of what we create here at JoVic Pottery. We borrow from it to add beauty to our glazes and the textures of our work.
We have the amazing fortune of working and living in one of the most beautiful areas of British Columbia on Vancouver Island. In fact, we could say that it’s our honest belief that we live in the best part of Canada. With its temperate climate, spring always comes early to our island, erupting with colors and birdsong each new day, and constantly bringing new delight. From the red current blossoms so favored by hummingbirds, to the rhododendrons with their massive blooms, our garden brings joy.
Our studio is on our property, a 3-acre parcel which has a small creek running through and alongside of it. A wonderful right of way on one side provides tall trees that aid in creating a tranquil space, and our front yard boasts a circle of giant trees that within their midst offer respite from the heat in summer, as well as providing a contemplative oasis that practically hides us from the world. The boaters who come to Page Point Inn especially enjoy this area as a break from bright summer days, and we’re just a two-minute walk from their marina.
We are always happy to welcome visitors to our studio and property. And many of our visitors, especially those who don’t have the fortune of making their home here in the Ladysmith area, find delight in taking the time to wander through and enjoy both nature and our clay garden ornaments. Come and see for yourself–we’ll welcome you.
Vic Duffhues (JoVic Pottery, Ladysmith BC) has added a few more spray guns to his collection, making the options for creating greater depth and color on his final work much more fun, and definitely more interesting.
Each application is allowed to dry carefully before another application takes place, but in this particular approach, with less glaze being applied in the way it is sprayed, the waiting time is not extreme as it is with multiple dipped applications.
He’s clearly enjoying the work with this series of teapots and vases on the previously bisqued ware.
It will be fun to see the final results and I’ll be sure to post more pictures.
Mocha Diffusion is a very special technique: a process that is almost magical to watch because of the very rapid way that landscapes are formed in front of your eyes.
Whenever visitors come to the studio here at JoVic Pottery, and we have the time to engage with them and show them a few things, a mocha demonstration is often at the top of the list.
Achieving success with the process on pottery often proves very difficult. Everything has to be just right for things to work. The pots need to be almost bone dry. At that stage they will rapidly absorb the slip applied. This slip is quite alkaline. The introduction of an acid can be shown by the addition of colorants to a tea made with boiled pipe tobacco.
If the pots are too dry, the slip just forms ugly blotches and runs. If the pots are too wet, the slip stay wet too long and the “trees” grow well beyond our desired needs right over the edges of the rims. It’s a Goldilocks process, so if the pots are just right, we can quickly make landscape strokes and add a little extra tea in those spots where we’d like a tree to “grow.” We really have a very short window in which to do this decoration and pure concentration is required, as well as a planned approach.
But for our visitors, we have a delightful solution consisting of a piece of plastic that we dip into the slip bucket. The slip stays wet, of course, but almost always works to demonstrate the technique. We watch the trees grow and continue this growth demonstrating not only the wonder of dendrite at work, but also explaining how continued moisture is undesirable on our actual work.
Vic Duffhues has been using this technique for many decades. Yet even with all that experience, he’s not always guaranteed the results he’d like. Now he chooses to exercise this form of decoration only in the early spring, when drying conditions are most easily controlled. The result is that we never have enough mocha pieces and there is always a demand by collectors.
They truly are gorgeous mugs and tumblers and we joke that these are the fastest growing trees in British Columbia.
This last kiln load had us both smiling with glee. There are some gorgeous functional pieces, like the wine bricks and the tall stemmed goblets with crawl glaze decoration that take function to art and are absolutely perfect for entertaining special guests.
Crystalline layered glazes with final ash glaze layers (Mt. St. Helen’s Ash actually), and fabulous tenmoku liner glazes on the interior which make the wine bricks not only functional, but allow them to become decorative vases or utensil holders.
And how delightful are large ginger jars with beautiful lids?
Should you want to use this beautiful jar as a vase, you might enjoy setting the lovely lid slightly to the front and side to give it an extra wow appearance.
Also fresh from the kiln are two lovely lidded pots, again glazed with Mt. St. Helen’s ash layered over crystalline glazes. The similarity of these pieces comes from the skill of glaze applications–but slight tweaking of the process ensures that though the pots are alike, they remain unique.
Note the wonderful slip application–a treatment put onto the pots when they’re just slightly stiffened. Combing through the slip adds texture to the shoulders of the pots and also aids the “breaking” of glazes showing up color beneath the layers.
And the last vase here is a delight to hold and would be wonderful displayed with or without flowers. It, too, shows the benefit of slip-combed decoration which adds depth and texture. Engobes and crystalline glazes, sprayed over a period of several days to allow sufficient drying between applications adds so much visually and texturally. Come visit our studio in Ladysmith, BC on Vancouver Island to enjoy not only looking at, but touching and collecting work that brings art to function and function to art.
The making of quality stoneware pottery, whether functional or decorative, is far from a rapid process. Aside from clay preparation, pots made require careful drying before they can even be put through their first bisque fire. But just the making is a time consuming thing, especially for large vases that are thrown in two stages.
Getting the neck onto the base requires careful joining; after all, if the pot is not put together correctly, the neck would come free of the vase. Careful smoothing and finishing is needed.
Then there’s a process that allows us to get some color onto the pieces before a first firing–of course not until the pieces are bone dry. We often spray the work with engobes, or brush on slip.
Once the pottery is again bone dry, we’re able to place the work into the kiln for a first firing. We bring them up slowly and cool slowly as well to avoid any potential cracking or warping through this cycle.
The cooled pots then need waxing before we can glaze. If we didn’t wax the bottoms the pottery would end up stuck to the kiln shelves.
Once the waxing is finished, we can get on with the work of glazing. This is frequently a slow process because we tend to use multiple glazes and each coat must be completely dry before we add a next layer. Bisqued pottery is still somewhat porous, and the water base of the glazes is absorbed into the work, requiring careful and total drying between each step.
Some of our pottery is actually put through a few low temperature firings. This ensures that the first layers of glaze are fired on, allowing us to handle the pottery without smudging or accidentally removing some of the glazes. Though the glazes in this case have not reached a mature melt, they are stable enough to handle.
Fired on glazes really help with some of our more complicated glaze applications. Crawl glazes, for instance, cannot be applied to glazes unless they have already been fired on at a lower temperature. By their very nature, as reticulating glazes, they would pull up any immature glazes they were placed on and instead of an attractive crawl, exposing lovely sub-surface colors or glazes, they’d end up exposing some terrible peeling effect that exposed clay.
Each kiln load has us looking forward to seeing whether what we envision at the start of making our work actually lives up to our hopes.
With the glazes applied, the final drying begins.
Once we’re sure the pots are dry, we can carefully load the kiln. Great care must be taken with vertical vases that have crawl glazes applied near the base.
A slight bump and the glaze will fall off the pot, potentially leaving bare spots where they might not be desired, and also fusing to expensive kiln shelves or other kiln furniture.
Some of the final results pleased Jo Duffhues immensely–not so Vic. He’ll likely take the vases he’s not thrilled with and apply additional glazes for yet another re-fire.
I have to remind him that some of our customers love the pieces that he is not excited about at all. The trouble is that when we work we have an idea of the outcome we’re seeking, and if things don’t turn out that way, we tend to think it’s a failure. It’s very hard to get past that kind of negative response. But since I love these pieces, I think they’re a great success.
Yes, these are the vases that Vic is seen making in the images above. Now it’s just a question of who wins the argument–will they be fired once again?
We consider ourselves potters; however, since we can’t afford to spend a great deal of money on professional photography, we also need to be capable of shooting our pots in order to post them on our website, use the images to send to clients, or to send them to galleries and shows to be judged.
Like so many of our peers, we struggle to create the best images we can. We have set up a photo “booth” in our studio. We have lighting and a very good camera, but as our granddaughter might say: “the struggle is real.” We occasionally see an incredible picture of someone’s work, and though we know it to be good, we also recognize that the photo has elevated it to great. Pots in pictures can only tell part of the story. Touching, lifting, and a close examination of the work is needed to complete anyone’s judgment.
Some glazes lend themselves to photography, particularly if they enjoy a matt surface. Others, especially those that have lustres or shiny translucent glazes present even professional photographers with a significant challenge.
One of our most beautiful ginger jars, complete with multiple layers of glaze and an ash glaze to grace the shoulders of this lidded vessel, came out of the kiln presenting just such a challenge. We recognize the fact that for us, taking pictures of this beautiful lidded vessel has proven more than difficult. Nothing we did actually does this work justice. Take a look for yourselves, and if you have any suggestions, please send them our way. Of course, as always, we invite you to come to our studio to have a look and feel for yourself.
Over time we obviously develop. Our skills have improved over the last 3 decades, and we’ve continued to develop new and exciting glazes and decorating techniques. However, we have a customer who had purchased a full dinnerware set about 20 years ago–thankfully, it’s a set they and their extended family members continue to love.
Last year, this couple came to visit and discussed the possibility of giving their parents a similar set. We had to revisit techniques we rarely employ. But the idea of a son wanting to give his parents dinnerware for Christmas proved irresistible. They modernized by requesting hexagon rather than wheel-thrown plates for a set that included 8 dinner plates, 8 dessert plates, 8 soup bowls, a butter dish and a platter.
Vic’s now packing this set. We’ve been able to send pictures along the way sharing the progress with the son and his lovely wife. They live in India. Their parents are in Alberta.
We were so happy with the final results, and we know that these lovely pieces will grace the table and bring the family a deep sense of joy and connection–even with the tremendous geographical distance. This stoneware dinnerware set will remind both families of many great celebrations, and this Christmas will be a special first shared sense of celebration using our wonderful JoVic Pottery.
This post is just a fun way to share some pictures I took of my favorite potter the other day. He’s gearing up for our annual studio tour. I’m so glad he continues to love working this way and he’s been making pots since 1979, and has certainly honed his skills at our amazing Ladysmith, Vancouver Island studio: JoVic Pottery. Come visit.
There are some delicious new pots coming out of the kilns lately. We’re expecting to have quite a few more for Arts on the Avenue which is our annual Ladysmith event that allows us to visit with so many of our friends and neighbors. It’s an event just not to be missed, showcasing lots of great local artists as well as some super Artisan food creators.
I think you’ll especially love some of our new pots. Their texture is superb.
While our pottery studio always makes its primary claim on our time, we also have a 3-acre property that demands attention. This year, as members of a local tour of studios and the gardens artists use for relaxation and inspiration, we’ve given our place a little extra loving attention. The rhododendrons have now finished blooming, and they’ve even been dead-headed (not something I always manage in such a timely fashion).
delicate fragrant blooms
Right now it is our gorgeous honeysuckle that is spreading its intensely fabulous fragrance all through the yard, especially in late afternoon and early evening. We have it right near the grapevines, and work to keep them from getting completely entangled.
The blooms aren’t large, but they are many and they’re elegant and truly lovely.
Our garden provides ample opportunities for shade, light, fragrance, sunshine, and even allows us the joy of entertaining. Just last week we were able to host a house concert for one of Canada’s celebrated award-winning singer-songwriters.
Ian Sherwood started his 8:00 PM concert in sunlight, and finished as we finally began to enjoy the paper-bag lanterns with their tea-light candles adding a magical quality to this sure-to-be annual event in our backyard.
His music and personality, his ability to layer sound was absolutely perfect for a garden that has layers of appeal, from rustic to elegant, it suits Ian’s approach.
What a wonderful evening of beauty and music. My garden sculptures with their solar lights, freshly weeded flower beds with a lovely layer of mulch. Yes, this year our garden is as deeply loved as our studio. Come take a look for yourselves. We’ll gladly tour you through the studio and around the property.
The new year arrived in the midst of fun with the Ladysmith
Little Theatre because on top of working like maniacs with our pottery students, preparing for the Studio Tour,
and Christmas, we were also involved with the theatre’s annual Christmas Panto. We finished that show on New Year’s Eve, and by the 7th of January, we began rehearsals for the Man of La Mancha which won’t open until the 22nd of April.
But yes, students. We had those right up to and just past our November studio tour. This was an ambitious class (Ceramics Art 10) and students not only made ceremonial bowls, carved with First Nations designs, but also made war canoes, and a trivet tile project.
It’s that last project that actually wasn’t completed until last week and students had to return to do their final finishing. But they are sweet. I’m posting just a few pictures of them.
JoVic Pottery has been a professional studio for well over three decades. Inspired both by each other (Jo was Vic’s first pottery teacher) and by the beauty of their surroundings, this couple have won numerous awards, with the most recent being 2nd prize in the Ladysmith Waterfront Gallery Multi-Media Show for 3-dimensional art (won by Jo for her modern art series of work, September 2013).
Open to the public, Jo and Vic both delight in sharing their excitement about some of the labor-intensive work required to produce their very fine line of quality functional stoneware, decorative raku pottery, and unique garden sculpture. Inspired by the lichens found in nature, Vic delights in creating functional stoneware pottery using multiple firings to layer on his original glazes, creating pieces that he hopes will be treasured heirlooms celebrating special occasions for ages to come. Jo becomes most excited creating one-of-a-kind clay art and especially likes a “painterly” approach to glazing with colors celebrating a well-traveled childhood and upbringing in Europe, Australia and finally Canada. Studio hours are 10 – 5 Tuesdays through Saturdays or by appointment or chance.
Located near Page Point Inn at 4781 Shell Beach Road, Ladysmith. Telephone: 250-245-8728. www.jovicpottery.com
I’m not sure what’s driving this particular period in my work, but I sure am enjoying myself. The freedom I find in using underglazes as paint on clay as my canvas is pure creative joy.
The first piece had me thinking about Piet Mondrian, and there’s no doubt I love what he was doing. But when I look at my work, there’s more than this influencing the outcome. I’ve come to conclude that some of it is just the impact of being a teenager during the pop-art era. I love seeing the way the colors develop too, with real changes following the bisque and final glaze firings.
What started on my slab-ware pieces is now continuing onto thrown forms. The fact is that I rarely ever use the potter’s wheel anymore. Arthritis truly has had an impact on this side of my work. But since I have the great fortune of being married to my potter husband, Vic Duffhues, we can create pieces together. Actually, I can ask him to make specific items for me to play with; and truthfully said, this creative work is a form of play.
There are times when I feel my neck seizing, and the knots begin to form and I know it’s truly time to stop. However, in spite of the pain, I can’t put the brush down and my thoughts of quitting end up delayed by hours on end.
I really don’t know where this is going, or when it will wind itself into something new and different again, but I do know that the pieces that are coming out of the kilns these days fill me with happiness. Despite the fact that this is a series, each piece is unique. I consider color placement, consider the “movement” each stroke leads my eyes to follow.
The final firing is yet to come for these darlings, and it will result in a further enhancement and brightness of color. But I’m already excited and feeling happy to see them, and I am sure they will only go to people who can appreciate and feel the same joy in seeing and using them. After all, these are definitely happy pots.
We have managed to get some of the work through final firings. The goblets are $30 each, but will only be sold in pairs (to prevent being left with singles) or sets of 4. The wine brick sells for $50 and makes for a fabulous utensil holder or vase as well as a terrific wine brick.
I am really delighted with the final results. I can see myself developing various approaches to this work.
Different color palettes but with a unified original theme.
I’m getting some excited response to this work already and I’m so looking forward to showing it off this weekend on Sunday, August 25, at Arts on the Avenue in Ladysmith, BC.
There is bound to be further development in this series of painterly pots, and I’m already looking forward to the Rocky Creek Winery Tour in Ladysmith in September (more details later).
And I expect to enjoy painting on more and more pots. I think I’m adding some real FUN into our functional work.
The Ladysmith Waterfront Art Gallery recently set up a special show in conjunction with the Crafts Council of British Columbia. It celebrates the 40th anniversary of the council. The show was by invitation only. Vic decided to create a truly amazing dinnerware set. The show is wonderful, with quilts and paintings and delightful furniture. The dinnerware set stands out as exceptional in this lovely creative environment, and I hope Ladysmith and area residents make sure they visit the gallery before this special show closes on August 25th.
The pieces are stoneware, wheel-thrown, and have received multiple glaze applications and added firings to allow for the texture on the rims of the plates and create the delicious depth and coloring of the work. He rounded out the display with several other fabulous pieces, including a gorgeous ginger jar and a teapot. However, I think whoever ends up owning this remarkable dinnerware will be able to gloat that they are serving their food on functional art!
To aid the display, we took our oak harvest table, made for us by Mennonites in Waterloo County about 30 years ago, and refinished the table top. The table legs and drawer details still need to be refinished, but time was short, so only the top got done. But this table has seen so much use and dare I say abuse over the years, and it’s great to see how beautiful the top looks following some TLC.
This dinnerware is a one-of-a-kind set. The work involved is truly labor-intensive. The plates not only received multiple glaze applications requiring extra firings, but the final “alligator” glaze on the rims also meant having to wax the interiors of the plates and carefully sponge away any excess of the alligator glaze. Vic’s love of functional stoneware is apparent in this gorgeous set, and he’s now determined to create one special set per year.