Nanaimo Pottery Co-op member Virginia Dunseith selects pieces for the group’s annual show and sale at Beban Park this weekend. Nineteen local potters are involved in the event.

Pottery makes personal pieces

More than 19 potters will have their wares for show and sale this weekend, showcasing the character and variety in the art form

More than 19 potters will have their wares for show and sale this weekend, showcasing the character and variety available in the art form.

“Plastic has no individuality but pottery is individual and each piece of a set is an individual,” said long-time Nanaimo Pottery Co-op member Virginia Dunseith. “Each is made with loving care. Handmade things have aesthetic value. Buying a form of art enriches your life. It brings a bit of the potter who made it and you know you are buying something unique and special.”

Dunseith has been a potter since high school, going on to teach at Cedar and Woodlands secondary schools until retirement in 1998.

“Pottery is individual – you could display a selection of bowls and you would be able to tell the maker,” Dunseith said.  “My pottery is thin and light and my personality is such that I pay attention to detail and I love colour. You will see every colour under the sun going on in my pottery and I particularly love the painterly effect.”

Dunseith mixes her own glazes and all her pieces are suitable for daily use. She makes between 12 and 20 mugs per session – throwing one day, trimming and applying handles the next – allowing the pieces to dry under plastic for two weeks.

She then bisque fires them, glazes and re-fires the mugs. Another two to three hours is spent sanding rough bottoms and edges.

She said compared to pottery mass produced for department stores, handmade pottery is reasonably priced.

“A handmade mug is handled 17 different times and when you take into account the cost of the clay, glazes, electricity, tools and the years of skill – a $16 mug is a great purchase,” Dunseith said. “Pottery brings a history, a connection into one’s life. I have a collection of mugs from fellow potters and each brings a fond memory or a fine example of beauty.”

The pottery co-op’s winter sale is set for Friday (Nov. 4), noon to 8 p.m.; Saturday (Nov. 5), 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; and Sunday (Nov. 6), 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Beban Park. Admission is free.

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