DID YOU HEAR the one about the moose in the woods licking salt from a pottery bowl? This and other questions will be answered at the Potters Place

New displays, experienced artists at Potters Place

Potters Sue Taylor and Joe Stefiuk have their work on display at Potters Place this month.

Sue Taylor and Joe Stefiuk are longtime members of the Potters Place.

Throughout May, you are invited to come and see some phenomenal examples of well-crafted functional and sculptural pottery by both of these wonderful local artists.

Taylor has been making pots for over 35 years. She learned her craft in the U.K. under the tutelage of internationally known ceramist Walter Keeler.

Under his guidance, Sue began her love of salt-fired pottery. She continued studies here at North Island College and her passion for the process of firing has not waned.

“When firing with salt, you have to pay great attention to detail. Each mark, each scratch, each throwing line, each trimming stroke shows up and is part of the design, nothing is ‘hidden’ under a glaze.”

Introducing salt into the kiln at a high temperature during the firing process creates the glazed surface and exaggerates all textures on the pot. Sodium from the salt reacts with silica in the clay body to form a glassy coating of sodium silicate and an orange peel like texture is a tell tale sign that a pot has gone through this process.

“I work on series of pots, and am not a prolific potter. I spend a lot of time on each piece and the attention to detail that the salt-fired process requires fits very well with my personality.”

Sue has created drinking vessels, and carved porcelain platters fired in both salt and wood fired kilns for this display. While in the U.K., Sue was part of a joint show at the Victoria and Albert Museum.

The Potters Place is thrilled that she is now making her pots here in the Valley, and her pots grace the homes of savvy collectors throughout Vancouver Island and beyond.

Stefiuk has been living the artful life and inspiring generations to do the same for over 40 years. Joe was an art teacher in B.C. for 32 years — for 29 of those years he taught right here in the Comox Valley.

What began as a way to introduce clay to children in his classes has developed into a passion for making ‘critters’ of B.C. Joe uses hand-building techniques including pinching, coiling, and slab work to make his incredibly animated clay creatures.

His exploration animal forms in clay spans several decades, starting with teaching his students how to make animals by pinching and rolling clay into forms that could be joined together, then coils or pencil shaped pieces of clay were added to the ‘body’ to form the legs and tails, etc.

“The attempt is not to be a realist, but to only suggest what the form is suppose to represent.”  It is in this looseness and ease, that the animals take on a individual personalities.

Perhaps you have seen or even own one of Joe’s Courageous Cows, Riveting Ravens, Eccentric Eagles, or Finless Fish… well now he is introducing his Majestic Moose. You can almost hear voices coming from his critters, each has it’s own persona and they are so entirely delightful, playful and asking to be held and caressed.

Joe used many firing processes to make his pots, (yes, even a critter is called a pot to a potter ), including gas, soda, salt and wood.

When asked, Joe said, “Bears … Yeah, I think B.C. bears and bison are next.”

Joe will have a variety of his many critters along with his functional ware on display at the gallery.

Joe and Sue were invited recently to fire with Gordon Hutchens in his anagama wood-fired kiln on Denman Island.

Stefiuk will be in the gallery May 28 to 30 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The Potter’s Place is at 180B Fifth St. on the corner of Fifth and Cliffe in the Courtyard in downtown Courtenay. It’s open Mondays to Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Parking is available at the Rear of the building along the fence.

Fort more information, call 250-334-4613, go to www.thepottersplace.ca and like The Potters Place Gallery and Shop on Facebook for updates on gallery shows, events, and featured artists.

— Potters Place

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