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

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“It’s great, and the thing is that the facilities here are awesome! We’ve got five wheels, we’ve got the two kilns,” MacCallum said, pointing around the room as she deftly shaped small balls of clay.

“We just had a group of girls come in,” MacCallum said with a smile, adding that the energetic group completely took over the space.

“One of them was really hardcore serious,” MacCallum said.

“She was the driving force there,” Hughes chimed in, and both began to laugh.

Though the group has traditionally worked with earthenware clays, they’ve just started experimenting with stoneware materials, and have even begun expanding their firing techniques.

Earlier this year, they received a grant from the Whistler Arts Council, which enabled them to try a raku firing under the supervision of Kay Austen, a renowned Canadian potter who lives in Squamish.

“It went well. The result was we got a kiln out of it and we’ve got people now that have experience with raku firings, so we’re going to try and get some other… (firings) going, because I think people are pretty keen right now,” MacCallum added.

Now, they’re tinkering with some new ideas, like a clay day, where they would invite the public to come out and get their hands dirty, playing with clay. They are also hoping to get a well-known local potter, Vincent Massey, to come in and give a demonstration one evening.

MacCallum encourages people who are interested in participating to just stop by on a Tuesday evening to check out the space and meet members of the club.

Hughes points out that a lot of people who are new to town may not know where the high school is — so, for those of you who haven’t made the journey to Whistler’s hallowed halls of learning, yet, just hang a right off Highway 99 across from Alpine Meadows.

“So if people want to just come check it out and meet us one week, and then decide whether they want to come in or not, that’s good,” MacCallum said.

The RMOW also recently launched a new beginners pottery class as part of their 2008-09 fall and winter programming, teaching basic techniques like pinch pot, coil building, slab and beginner’s throwing. Members of the Whistler Pottery Club provide instruction for the classes, which run each Wednesday night from Sept. 24 to Oct. 29 and Jan. 21 to Feb. 25. The cost is $147 for six sessions.

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