The Comox Valley Potter’s Club 22nd holiday sale will be held at the Florence Filberg Centre in Courtenay this Saturday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Admission is a loonie, and partial proceeds will go to our local food bank.
The Light the Fire holiday sale has become a much-anticipated event for locals, islanders and visitors alike wishing to shop for that perfect gift. This year’s sale boasts over 20 potters, all with their own uniquely creative style.
Over the years Vancouver Island and more specifically the Comox Valley has become B.C.’s Pottery Mecca. Ceramic artists, in fact artists of all strips, are drawn to the island, as its extreme beauty is an unyielding source of inspiration. You will see the colours, textures, local themes and even landscapes that draw people to the island in the vessels and ceramic sculptures for sale at this event.
Many people, even those who have had hands-on exposure to the world of ceramics, are often surprised to know how many methods there are for firing pots. This variety gives the artists the individuality they strive for.
The pieces presented at Light the Fire all come with a story told by a local artist speaking to you through their art. By purchasing work at this show you will be leaving with affordable art and knowing that you have supported your community and a local artist.
Partial proceeds from Light the Fire will help to support the many community interests we have including the local food bank once again. Each year we present a bursary to a North Island College Ceramics student as well as assisting with equipment and kiln maintenance in their ceramics department.
We are strong supporters of popular local charity You Are Not Alone (YANA) each year with our chili bowl event and we provide opportunities for community members to have a table at our holiday sale to fundraise for various causes.
— Comox Valley Potter’s Club
Here are just a few of the techniques used by the artists to fire their work:
This is where the piece is glazed and fired in an electric kiln, most often indoors. The skilled artist can achieve remarkable results with techniques and glazes tested many times. Majolica ware often captures the whimsy of the artist and electric fired crystalline glazes are a testament to the alchemy of the glaze world. There are countless ways that the potter can exploit the electric kiln.
These kilns are usually fired outdoors using propane or natural gas. The kilns are often built put of specialized bricks by their owners. Every potter has their own special method to fire their kiln – often making slight changes with each firing seeking to perfect the results in every unique kiln load. In all fuel fired kilns the operator controls the atmosphere within the kiln regulating the amount of oxygen allowed in and thereby altering the glaze responses within the kiln.
The once fired pots are gently layered with leaves, straw, wood, seaweed, banana peel, oxides etc. etc. outside in a pit. Once loaded the pit it is lit and slowly burned over about 24 hours. What goes in the pit and how long it burns is entirely up to the artist. These pots are works of art they’re not meant to be functional items. As one can imagine, the pots are delicate and not every one survives the process – making the ones that do just that much more special.
This method has its roots in Japanese culture and has been adapted by North American potters. The pots are fired outside in a raku kiln and when the artist decides that the glazes are mature they are pulled out. While molten hot the work is placed in a reduction bin of combustible material and allowed to light on fire. The bin is then sealed and the fire extinguished. In this way the artist controls the atmospheric oxygen, thereby creating the signature crackle, luster and metallic glazes people are drawn to.
The kiln used for this method of firing is used for salt-fired pottery exclusively. The characteristic orange-peel-like glaze is formed by throwing table salt into the kiln when it is very hot. The salt vaporizes and combines with the silica in the clay body and forms the textured glaze surface these pieces are known for. Colour is added via slips, oxides or liner glazes. A special wading on their base prevents the pots from sticking to the kiln shelves and creates unique markings on their underside.
The pots for this type of firing are also waded on their undersides. Once loaded the specialized kiln is bricked up in a way that provides access to an area of the kiln that contains the wood fire that will heat the kiln. Wood will be added to this fire for many hours, sometimes days until the kiln reaches temperature. The pots are coated with Shinos, Oribes and glazes that favour the fly ash and the soluble salts and minerals provided by the wood used in the firing. Together these elements create the unique and beautifully earthy glazes found only in wood fired pots.