Lee Stead has been creating ceramic art for 20 years, but the Nanaimo artist wasn’t always working with clay.
“I’m also a painter and painted for many years before that and I had a winter where I just didn’t feel like painting, so I took a beginners’ wheel class and just was totally hooked on clay ever since,” Stead said.
She said she was drawn to the art form because of the limitless possibilities of working with a malleable medium.
“I hand build so everything starts as a flat slab and you can make anything, any kind of pattern,” Stead said. “I studied fashion at Seneca College in Toronto and was really good at making patterns, so anything from flat to three-dimensional is really easy for me. So that’s what I love about it – designing new things.”
Some of those new things will be on display when Stead takes part in the Nanaimo Pottery Co-op’s annual Spring Show and Sale at Country Club Centre mall on May 10 and 11.
Stead said more than 20 potters will have functional and decorative vessels and sculptures set up in the mall’s central area. Stead has been working on her pieces for months, and still had some items in the kiln a week before the sale.
She said she joined the co-op around 12 years ago to meet like-minded artists.
“I’m at home all by myself making pottery, so it’s kind of fun to get together,” Stead said.
At its monthly meetings the group occasionally brings in guest artists and offers demonstrations. The co-op also organizes two sales each year. Stead said the sales give artists and buyers the chance to interact.
“Lots of potters have fans that follow them from sale to sale and collect their pottery, so it’s always fun to meet the person that made the pottery for them and it’s kind of fun to see who buys my pottery,” she said.
Stead said the biggest question she gets at sales is always “How long did it take you to make this?” She said it’s hard to break down.
“It’s fun to me. It’s not work, so it’s not like I’m timing myself or watching the time,” she said.
WHAT’S ON … Nanaimo Pottery Co-op Spring Show and Sale at Country Club Centre mall, 3200 Island Hwy., on Friday, May 10 from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Saturday, May 11 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.