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Welcoming art home

Artist Penny Martyn opens home art studio to public every Thursday

Artist Penny Martyn now welcomes guests every Thursday to Garlick Mountain Tiles and Ceramics Studios at the Asymmetry House in Emerald.

The home studio is as spectacular as the artwork it showcases.

Martyn’s signature leaf ceramic tile floor welcomes art lovers even before they step into the multi-million dollar home showcasing Martyn’s limitless imagination.

Cast iron railings are ornamented with tile detailing, a bathroom wall transforms into an ocean mosaic and tea is poured into pottery mugs reflecting the home’s own secret garden with ferns baked right into the decorative mug in the kiln.

We walk from the kitchen into Martyn’s studio with her two passions, good food and tableware, are presented in new artwork packages.

On her workshop table sits a large pottery salad bowl accompanied by four individual salad bowls and a recipe for salad dressing, all wrapped into one package. Each bowl carries a healing leaf plucked from her garden, including St. John’s Wart, genko and raspberry leaf.

“They make great hostess or Christmas gifts,” says the 14-year resident.

Other gift sets are showcased, including a crab dip pot with a similarly-themed seafood platter, escargot dish set, sushi plates with dipping trays, sake bottles with matching cups, and crème brulee dishes beautiful enough to showcase the delicate dessert, but sturdy enough to withstand the blowtorch finish.

Martyn’s accompanying crème brulee recipe was inspired by her recent trip to France, only her recipe focuses on a lighter non-dairy version sourced from ingredients found in the Sea to Sky corridor.

“The dishes are sorted out, but I am still honing the recipes,” she said.

Her oyster platters with mini sauce dishes are the most stunning creations in her new series. The platters resemble oyster shells, with pearly pale pink insides ornamented with barnacles and the outsides shimmering into rough patterns of greens and blues.

Guests can now watch the Whistler Arts Council member work in her studio as well as browse her diverse showcase. Floor to ceiling shelves house Martyn’s artworks in their various stages.

Martyn’s biggest fan and host, her pooch Kejung, accompanies all tours. Martyn’s love of dogs is found everywhere in her work.

Most dog lovers are well acquainted with Martyn’s ceramic dog bowls. The water and food dishes sit on little ceramic dog feet with each bowl personalized with the user’s name. The finished bowls are bright and colourful on the shelves, while unfinished coffee table tiles with individual dog prints pressed into the clay are still grey and waiting for the kiln.

Martyn also fashions custom made candlesticks, stacking colours and ceramic shapes, including the face of your dog, into an ornate column. She sculpts bone-shaped baking trays that are packaged with ingredients and a recipe for a doggie birthday cake.

“They make wonderful memories,” she said of her personalized dog artworks.

Martyn’s daily living ceramics range anywhere from a $50 dog dish to a $200 five-piece salad bowl set and recipe.

Our tour moves from the shelving showcase to Martyn’s large working tables. Our interview interrupted work on her small, framed murals currently being pieced together.

Martyn designs custom ceramic tile murals for homes. While some people buy 900 handmade tiles to create a floor-to-ceiling mural, she also produces small, framed mosaics that look good hanging in any home. One of the ceramic “paintings” illustrates her famous leaf design usually found in entranceways, including the entrance to the Adele Campbell Gallery at the Hilton.

“They always have people coming in and saying they love the floor so much, they want to take it home — now they can,” she said.

Martyn’s imagination and joy for art knows no bounds.

In the corner of the studio, wire netting awaiting a foam clay finish is fashioned into the shape of a bear, another one of Martyn’s custom works. She participated in the Lions’ Spirit Bear fundraising program, transforming a plain white bear sculpture into one of the centrepieces at the Roundhouse on Whistler Mountain. The bear, dubbed Ursus Intrawestus , is the “canvas” for a winter scene of Whistler Mountain and the village. Martyn began crafting smaller bears, and now she can’t keep up with custom orders.

One of her studio paintings will also be used for an Easter Seal Christmas card this year. She is designing clay snowflake tree decorations for the Spirit of Winter artist showcase at the Adele Campbell Art Gallery. And she paints Whistler scenes into display bowls shipped to all corners of the world.

Martyn’s love of the arts has also expressed itself in custom-guided tours with the Whistler Arts Council’s ArtWalk program. Martyn leads the two-hour tour, browsing Whistler’s art galleries and public art displays.

Garlick Mountain Tile and Ceramics Studio is open every Thursday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Asymmetry House, located at 9459 Emerald Drive.

In addition to Martyn’s studio location, select artworks can be found at Skitch in Whistler Village and the Adele Campbell Gallery.