By Eileen Schuler
and Anne Sulz
“Pounding clay is an awesome de-stresser,” says Maran Magnell, a new member of the Oldman River Potters Guild in Lethbridge.
After coming across some pottery from her school years, Maran thought she would like to try it again. She was delighted when her husband gave her a gift certificate for wheel-throwing classes at the guild as a Christmas gift.
The magic happened, Maran says, when another potter showed her how to build a mug from a flat slab of clay. “I’ve been hooked ever since,” she says. “I joined the guild and started coming every week. I’ve learned a lot and made quite a few pieces I am proud of. My best work is a yarn bowl in the shape of a sheep.”
Maran finds pottery a fun, creative and relaxing hobby. She enjoys her weekly night out with new friends and plans to put some of her pottery into the next sale. “I’m so glad that I discovered the Oldman River Potters Guild,” she says.
Another guild member, Eileen Schuler, noted how she has seen styles in pottery change since she started making pottery 30 years ago.
“When I started working with clay in the early 1980s, pottery tended to have a heavier look and earth-toned glazes, reflecting the home-decorating trends of that decade. Then the style changed to include more pastel colours of predominantly blues, greens and pinks. Recently, the trend in pottery has moved toward lighter-weight, more colourful and highly decorated pieces.”
“Underglazes and techniques such as sgraffito (creating a design by applying layers of glaze, then scratching to reveal parts of the underlying layers) are often seen now,” she adds.
Eileen thinks social media outlets, such as Pinterest and Twitter, have been a positive influence, exposing potters to a myriad of new ideas and possibilities, creating enthusiasm to expand horizons and try new things.
After more than six decades as part of the ceramic arts scene in downtown Lethbridge, the guild has relocated to a newly renovated facility at 2 – 4416, 1st Avenue South, the former Hepps Auto building on 1st Avenue South east of 43rd Street, also known as Jail Road. Members and volunteers spent many summer hours planning, organizing, and working hard to create an attractive, functional space that will meet the needs of the guild and allow for exciting new possibilities.
Guild president Brigitte Burke outlined some of those possibilities.
“The new, larger space will enable us to increase our membership and accommodate a larger number of students in our wheel-throwing and hand-building classes. We will be able to bring in highly qualified instructors and offer more and better workshops to larger numbers of local potters and still have space to invite participants from outlying areas.”
“Starting next spring, April 2020, we look forward to having our sales in our new location,” explains Brigitte, but this year, the sale on Nov. 14, 15 and 16 will be held in the Westminster Community Hall as in the past.
“We are planning a permanent showroom/gift shop which will be open to the public on Saturdays, starting in the new year,” she says. “There are so many advantages to being here, but I think one of the best is that we now have this lovely, convenient space where members can come at their leisure and just enjoy their hobby.”
The annual pre-Christmas sale will be held in Lethbridge at Westminster Community Hall, 411 16th Street North, on Thursday, Nov. 14: 10 a.m.-9 p.m.; Friday, Nov. 15: 10 a.m.-9 p.m.; and Saturday, Nov. 16: 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Admission is free. Refreshments are available for purchase. Gift certificates for classes will be available at a cost of $180 for a six-week course in either hand-building or wheel-throwing.
Membership costs $110 per year plus some volunteer time.
For further information, visit the guild’s website at email@example.com.