Karen Dance says opening a fresh bag of clay is like opening a world of endless possibilities.
The Ladysmith-based potter moved to the Island from Ontario three years ago to establish her pottery practice and not long after that she joined the Nanaimo Pottery Co-op.
“I just wanted to get a connection to my community and find some people that were like-minded,” she said.
From Nov. 1 to 3 Dance and the rest of the mid-Island ceramic group are holding their November Sale at Country Club Centre mall.
Dance will have conventional vessels on display as well as her signature pieces: hand-built cartoonish monster mugs and banks.
“It’s a cross or a morphing between something that might be a humanoid and an animal,” she said of her ceramic creatures. “So it’s not particularly scary looking, but it has a humourous grotesqueness to it, if that’s a term. Kind of creepy but cute.”
Dance said she’s always been artistic and demonstrated an early knack for pottery, but rather than pursue the art form from the start she chose to study film and theatre make-up, wigs and prosthetics. She said she didn’t expect she would excel in a “creature design” class.
“I don’t really know where it came from. It surprised me a little bit that I had an aptitude for it,” she said. “I’ve always been very creative but I didn’t really know that my hands could do what they do.”
Dance said she always expected she would return to clay, and when that happened she was sure to not let her training go to waste.
“I wasn’t really drawn to the movie industry, but I really liked the creatures and I really liked clay,” she said. “So I thought, ‘How can I incorporate the two?’”
Dance said it’s been five years since she started potting “with more serious intent.” She said what she enjoys the most is that her work generates reactions from people.
“They giggle or they recognize something in it or they recognize it as, ‘That looks like Bob, my neighbour,’ which is kind of what I’m going for,” she said. “I want it to be very personal.”
WHAT’S ON … Nanaimo Pottery Co-op November Pottery Sale at Country Club Centre mall, 3200 North Island Hwy., on Nov. 1 from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., Nov. 2 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Nov. 3 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.