The hands-on experience 

Weekly pottery sessions an affordable way to flex your creative muscles

click to enlarge Wheel Work Participants get their hands dirty at the wheel during the Whistler Pottery Club's drop-in session. Photo by Holly Fraughton
  • Wheel Work Participants get their hands dirty at the wheel during the Whistler Pottery Club's drop-in session. Photo by Holly Fraughton

What: Whistler Pottery Club drop-in sessions

When: Every Tuesday, 6:15 until 9:15 p.m.

Where: Whistler Secondary School

Cost: $9, plus $10 for clay

Clay caked fingers fly up to a furrowed brow, streaking a forehead with a fine, dusty smudge. Conversation murmurs above the sound of the whirring of the wheel, and the occasional laugh escapes the lips of one of the aspiring artists gathered in Whistler Secondary School’s art room. This is Whistler Pottery Club’s drop-in night.

Laurie MacCallum is a member of the club, helping to coordinate and supervise the weekly drop-in sessions. She bounces from table to table throughout the course of the evening, checking on the progress of each of the participants, and demonstrating different techniques.

“The idea is that people come in and they just are sort of self-directed,” MacCallum explained in an interview last week, when things were a bit quieter. “That would be sort of the ideal.”

But she quickly added that members of the pottery club are usually more than willing to offer tips and tricks to those just getting started.

“If people are just getting back into it or if they’ve done it a little bit, and they just want to experiment, they can use everything here, basically,” MacCallum said.

Denise Hughes is also a member of the Whistler Pottery Club, and has been participating in the art night since 2000. She explained that the night originally started out at Myrtle Philip School, and moved to the high school when it was built.

Now, the art night has been around for almost 15 years, transforming and transferring hands between local potters a number of times.

The support of the municipality has certainly helped keep the evening affordable.

“Really, it’s the only way that we could do it. For us to be able to rent out this space, well, we wouldn’t be able to do it, so the muni has really stepped up and really supported that,” MacCallum said.

It costs only $9 to participate in the drop-in, plus another $10 for a big bag of clay, and the pieces are glazed and fired for free. The club also has a large collection of tools, molds and stencils available to help inspire and create unique pieces.

“It’s a cheap drop-in,” MacCallum pointed out. “Cheaper than a movie, right?”

They see people of all ages, backgrounds and levels of experience show up to get their hands dirty and play around in clay.

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