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.
It’s funny how you just get into these moods… well, perhaps more than a mood, more like a drive. Suddenly the urge to paint becomes overwhelming. But painting on pottery is very different from painting on paper or canvas and it requires tons of patience. In fact, I have to start by making the piece I intend to decorate.
The time devoted to this activity actually runs into weeks. I first make the platters, plates, vases, or whatever has tickled my fancy (this time it was all slab plates and platters). These pieces have to be babied through a drying period to prevent warping or other problems. Then they get trimmed and signed before I can ever start the decorative process.
All the while I find myself thinking about what I want to try and do on them. I realize that I’m going to spend a ton of time with the pieces, and they’re certainly not going to help me earn a living, but that doesn’t really seem to matter. That drive, that urge to create is there and needs to be worked through. I’ve been creating village scenes for decades. Some of them 3-dimensional raku wall pieces, some of them standing village pieces, or candle houses. I’ve been using a “folk-art” approach to some. Lately I’ve discovered that there are artists like Karla Gerard who seem to have been inspired by the same need, though they work in paints. We must have felt the same zeit-geist and I have dozens of drawings and paintings on paper from years of playing that are now finding their way onto clay.
I always hope that something will be triggered, and a new way of creating art with functional stoneware pottery will evolve from this creative process. I have definitely learned that I must go with it because telling myself that all those hours to do one piece is not worth it, that it’s a money losing approach to clay, and I should stick with something faster… well, that just results in a complete stop. I cannot work unless I allow myself this creative time. I love to play, but it’s playing that lets me work too.
Now I just have to wait for the pieces to make it through a bisque fire. Then I’ll have to spray them with a clear glaze, and yes, wait some more for them to make it through the final firing. I won’t have my results until about 6 or so weeks after beginning the work. I sure hope these will prove worth the wait.
The work continues, and it’s made a little easier with summer heat inspiring me to stay in our cool studio.
I’m getting to see some results now too, and though somewhat disappointed with some of the under-glazes, I’m absolutely thrilled with others. I guess that just means there’s a balance. No, actually it means that I’ll end up fine-tuning things a bit more.
In any case, it sure is nice to see some of the work finding its way onto our showroom shelves. Mind you, I’d recommend a personal visit–seeing and touching is truly much more fun.
It’s a beautiful day, and a perfect one for a raku firing for a group. With anticipation, Vic got the raku shed cleaned up and prepared, and of course had some nice pots glazed and ready to fire. I tidied the showroom and gathered some flowers, gathering some from here and there on our 3-acre property: foxglove, lupins and the like. Mind you, I got caught unawares.
There was a time I was able to grow flowers for the showroom, but the amount of time spent in the garden is more than I can manage these days. The result is often a little awkward searching around the property. But it always feels great to collect some nice flowers for one of the pots in the showroom. Too bad we didn’t get a shot of that bouquet for this post.
I do feel we got the showroom looking rather inviting, with loads of variety and colour.
In fact there is so much variety that we’re often asked how many potters contribute to the work. The truth is that the bulk of what we have right now is Vic’s work. At the moment I have just a bit out there, though perhaps the colour and decoration might tip someone to the fact that they’re looking at Josee’s work.
We were delighted by today’s group visit from Alicia, her parents, sister and brothers, boyfriend, and a few friends that she grew up with. Alicia is graduating from the Dental Hygiene Program at VIU. We’re going to miss her when she makes her home in Calgary. Congratulations! We’re glad your family came all the way from Edmonton to celebrate your success, Alicia.
We sure enjoyed seeing Celeste here again too, and in fact enjoyed the entire group. Even Molson found his way into the middle of our time with this wonderful family.
Mocha Diffusion is one of the techniques that we always love showing off. Everyone sees trees growing almost magically. Of course we have to demonstrate this on a piece of plastic, when it comes to the real pots, it’s a no show concentrated effort to make sure the “landscape” imagery comes out just right.
We thoroughly enjoy group visits, and having an opportunity to share the excitement of our work with our customers in this entertaining way. But the real fun usually happens at the raku kiln.
We most especially enjoy having a visitor like Celeste, willing to help with the kiln opening. And it’s always so delicious to listen to the “oohs” and “aahs” when Vic demonstrates the effect of alcohol reduction.
There are so many steps to watch. While the raku process truly qualifies as the quickest gratification in seeing a finished pot, taking no more than an hour or two at the most, there are still numerous steps. Timing the firing so that visitors don’t have long to wait helps. They get to see the glowing hot pots come out of the kiln. Depending on the next step, they can enjoy the magic of an alcohol reduction treatment, or they may have to wait while the pot goes through another carbon reduction approach.
The hot pot may be transferred into a pit with combustibles, like paper, moss, pine needles and so forth. Contact with this stuff immediately starts a fire. The placement of something like a large metal can over top of the pot and set deeply into the sand will cause the fire to stop burning since the oxygen is soon depleted.
But before long, and with just enough time to enjoy a sunny chat, our visitors will soon see the amazing effects of freshly fired (albeit somewhat stinky) pots.
Vic opened and unloaded the kiln this morning, and he was truly happy with the results of his work. I’ve been telling you a little about the process, but here you get to see the final results of our multiple firing and layered glaze techniques.
These are all stoneware vessels: jugs, vases, pitchers, and ginger jars. All have glossy interior surfaces which fuse with the clay and ensure food and beverage or water safety. In other words they won’t leak or allow liquids to cause bacterial invasion of the glazes.
Of course we always run a computer analysis of our glazes to ensure safety for our customers. However, with these beautiful multiple fired glazes, we can enjoy adding texture by fusing a reticulating glaze (that is a glaze that shrinks and dries leaving crevasses or fine spaces depending upon our application) with engobes and matt glazes that have already been fired onto the pieces at a lower temperature.
It does mean more firings than the usual two, a bisque and glaze being the norm. These pieces generally undergo at least two low temperature firings before being placed in the kiln at a higher glaze temperature firing.
I don’t have pictures of everything that came out of today’s kiln, but I can assure you that they make a visit to our Vancouver Island studio here in Ladysmith, BC well worth the time. With tourism season underway, we’re hoping to please quite a few new visitors this summer. It’s the perfect time to see the splendor of Vancouver Island with it’s wonderful botanic beauty… and perhaps time to purchase an amazing vase to fill with some of our flowers.
Yesterday I found some time to post a few pictures of some vases and jugs and pitchers and told you a little about the “steps in the process.” I thought I’d take the next step here, and show you the pieces as they appear now.
They have all been through a bisque fire, and that’s been followed with an initial glaze firing.
We do the first glaze fire at a bisque fire temperature, though in the case of the pieces shown above, we have also used engobes (we can use some engobes on either leather-hard clay or bisqued ware, while glazes are applied only on the bisqued ware). It allows the powder to fire onto the pieces and makes it possible for them to retain their porous bisque nature which then allows them to receive additional overglazes.
The alligator, or crawl glaze, is particularly tricky. These glazes are reminiscent of dried clay in desert dry areas. As the moisture evaporates, the glazes shrink (almost crawling) to allow for the engobes and underglazes to show through the cracks that appear. I can handle the upper section of the jugs, since the alligator glaze is not on that part of the surface; however, the vase shown below must be lifted carefully with fingers only on the inside of the vessel.
This process is particularly fragile, with the slightest shake allowing bits of the glaze to fall off the pieces, and it’s a special problem on some of the vertical forms. Glazes and engobes are applied in stages, with for example, the glaze on the interior of these pieces allowed to dry for a full day before the additional glaze is applied to the lower sections or exteriors of the pots.
When we’re working on plate or platter forms, we actually have to wax surfaces where we don’t want the texture of the alligator glazes. However, on such forms, we truly delight in seeing the lift and separation of the alligator glaze. After all, we know that in the heat of the stoneware firing, the glaze will lay back down and fuse onto the clay. The waxing process makes the plates and platters truly labour intensive, but the end results are always amazing. It seems most of our pleasure derives from the process, and perhaps that explains why the bulk of our work truly is just that: time and labour intensive.
I’ll be sure to “blog” about the very special dinnerware set that Vic’s making for an upcoming Art Show. The hours spent on creating this one-of-a-kind set will ensure that it is most highly-collectible and will remain one-of-a-kind.
All the work made in our Ladysmith, Vancouver Island, BC studio is actually truly one-of-a-kind. Being the nature of our work, every item is individually hand-crafted. Of course when it comes to dinnerware, we try our best to keep to uniformity, allowing for a true set. Still, it’s like having babies, each one has a personality, making them all extra special.
We are certainly enjoying this latest group of students from Stz’uminus Senior Secondary School in Ladysmith, BC. Stz’uminus First Nations, formerly known as the Chemainus First Nation, is dedicated to improving the lives of their band members via education and business opportunities. The main reservation of this band is just down the road from our studio, and we’re actually located between the senior secondary and community and primary schools here on Vancouver Island. We’ve become community members, and we’re so happy that they agree with us that introducing clay art for the purpose of providing a new medium for traditional designs is one way of improving and inspiring the lives of both adult and teen-aged members.
Students arrive at our studio two afternoons per week, and their classroom teacher joins in the fun. Vic starts these courses gently, with students experiencing the texture and possibilities of clay. We’ve known many of our students for a number of years as they’ve arrived here for co-operative education pottery courses, First Nations art courses, school year end parties, and even a few of them for sleep-over visits. They’ve taught us so much about their culture, and we never lose sight of the importance of adding cultural value and meaning to their work. This class started off with ceremonial rattles; first building their rattles around halved tennis balls before joining two half sections, and filling these with paper-covered clay pellets.
Their next step sometimes involves smoothing the exterior, covering this with a coloured slip, and then using a sgraffito technique, carving in traditional Coast Salish Art designs. Some students make ceremonial bowls using the same coil and slip technique, and the image here shows two of these students applying slip in preparation for the sgraffito designs they will add.
The final project for students in this class will be extra-special. Vic has always been inspired by the beautiful war canoes created by the Coast Salish Peoples. With our close proximity and continued work with our local First Nations community, we also understand the use of ceremonial bowls in the Big House (sometimes called the Long House). For more on the history of the Salishan Peoples, Big Houses, Art and War Canoes, I’d recommend a look at artist, Joe Jack’s Coast Salish History. With the canoe as inspiration, Vic designed a project for the students.
The students and their teacher prepared their own templates based on his design, and Vic prepared numerous styrofoam forms for them to build their canoes around. The students also drew designs on their templates in preparation for this special project. All their work should be finished by the end of the month. Some of these students are taking courses in our studio for a 2nd or 3rd time. It’s a thrill to know that they are incorporating clay into their culture and finding such satisfaction and growing skill in this amazing area of clay art.
Student Canoes Under Construction
Huy’cep qa Stz’uminus Students and Teachers, we learn from you even as you learn from us.
I’ve been having a bit of fun here lately, and I just wanted to make sure our customers and site visitors would know what I’ve added. To the Techniques pull-down menu, I’ve added a page about creating our glazes.
I’ve also added some new information under the Workshops pull-down menu. We offer both private and group lessons as well as some special interest classes. I’m delighted to have added a little video here too, showing off some of the lovely carved tiles made by local First Nations participants in these workshops and classes.
Our studio continues to be open to the public, and we delight in showing some of our skills off to visitors. We’d welcome you, so come on over.
After several years of operating our online shop, we have discovered that it is far easier to handle customer requests more personally and are happy to manage orders following email and telephone contact with clients.
There are numerous reasons for this change. Most important of all is that it allows us greater creative freedom. As Vic puts it: “you cannot go to a GM dealership and expect to purchase a ’57 Chev.” That may seem like a stretch, but the fact is that we are constantly exploring and as a result, our work is always changing. Having a shopping cart on our site restricts us to a continuous production of items we must then have in stock. We are artists and do not operate a factory, so this goes against everything we strive for in our creation of beautiful functional and decorative stoneware and raku pottery and art.
Our collectors can always ask us to create something using a former glaze or pattern. We will do our best to meet such a request. However, mines change, clay and glaze ingredients change, standards change, and our work also changes.
We will continue to post images of our latest works on our website, and will attempt to provide our internet browsing customers with a price before taxes and shipping. If an item seem and requested has already sold, we’ll do our best to provide a similar item, exchanging emails with photographs to ensure agreement.
Our second reason for discontinuing the shopping cart feature on our site stems from the fact that that the cost calculated by the Plugins required for this online shop is, in our opinion, exorbitant as well as labor intensive. We must measure and weigh each item before we can even post an image. We must commit to specific cartons and packaging. It all boils down to a great deal of extra work before an item is even sold.
As Venture Card holders with Canada Post, we’re able to provide an excellent service which is far less cumbersome at our end when it comes to packing and shipping and is also more reasonable for our customers. We’ve been very successful shipping stoneware and even raku pottery around the world and we enjoy working with the staff at our local postal office.
Your interest in any of our work is always appreciated, and should you see something you think you’d like, we welcome an email to get things started. We will happily respond with photos and specifics to ensure your continued pleasure in our work. We will always welcome personal contact, and for those of you hoping to acquire our special dinnerware, we will always recommend a studio visit. That said, we will continue to ship our work to our collectors and welcome new customers.
It’s clear that September is here, and the pleasure of having our granddaughter here for her annual summer visit is over. She left us this morning. We will miss this lovely girl, growing up so quickly. I can hardly believe she’ll be 13 in October. She sure managed to enjoy some studio time with us. She also decided she wanted to dress up in a toga and be our studio goddess.
Kyanna managed to create some of her very own pieces, but also got some dance steps in with her Oma (Jo Duffhues) while playing with clay and glazes. We’re going to miss her.
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 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.